The Talmud tells us that although the presence of Shabbat is revealed, its reward, the specialness of Shabbat, is hidden, like the color in the painting that is not seen but gives life to the painting. It is what Shabbat is for the world. This CD is an expression of my yearning that the world will find itself in a place of Shabbat. It is a journey of longing for "the world that is all Shabbat." What is found on this CD are the songs that express my own Shabbat experience, as influenced by the music closest to my own soul. I pray and hope that these expressions will enable you to touch a deeper place in the world - the place of Shabbat Olam.
Raz Hartman is an Israeli-born singer, pianist and teacher. Trained in classical music from a young age, he pursued a degree in classical piano performance at the University of Southern California. Somewhere along the way, he met Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, and realized that music is meant to be joyful, and an expression of the soul. With this awakening, Raz began connecting to the rich world of Chassidic melodies and composing his own music.
After completing his degree, Raz returned to Israel where he served in the Israeli army and then spent six years learning Torah at the Bat Ayin Yeshiva. He now lives with his wife and four children in Jerusalem’s Nachlaot neighborhood where he leads the "V’ani Tefillah" minyan, teaches Torah and yearns to combine his music and love of teaching to reach out to touch the souls of all who hear.
From the Jerusalem Post Art & Entertainment section, Wednesday July 21, 2004
(reprinted in the International Jerusalem Post, August 6, 2004)
With flowing payot and smudged glasses, Raz Hartman is an elder-statesman among the new generation of Jewish hippie rockers. One of the first students ever to learn at neo-religious musical (and otherwise) hotbed Yeshivat Bat Ayin, Raz was instrumental in putting together several projects for recording as well as a performance under the name
"The Bat Ayin Band."
Hartman's skills at the piano are simply breathtaking, alternating between majestic fullness (as on "Rebbe's Niggun" and "Bemotza'ei Yom Hamenucha") and sparse time-keeping (as on "Shehashalom Shelo" and "Eliyahu Hanavi"), but always using a touch suited to the demands of the song in question.
Thankfully, the piano-playing serves as the cornerstone upon which the rest of Shabbat Olam is built. Gone are the wall-of-sound superjams for which The Bat Ayin Band is known. The arrangements on this album are exceedingly intimate, using mainly Raz's sweet, understated singing voice and his keyboard.
Occasionally, he is joined by backing vocalists,
guitar, and hand percussion (handled especially well on "Odeh Hashem") but always in a way that is true to the overall sparse feel of the album.
Shabbat Olam opens with two original compositions, "Mipi Olelim" and "Sim Shalom," both featuring melodies that are simultaneously unpredictable and accessible. The rest of the album consists of mostly originals, interspersed with some Breslav niggunim (like the hauntingly beautiful "Bemotza'ei Yom
Menucha") and Carlebach covers (like the extremely faithful early Shlomo tune "Odeh Hashem").
Hartman's work (which can be purchased at www.cdbaby.com/razhartman) is elegant and tasteful, high art accessible to anyone.
- Ben Jacobson