Review of Rich Siegel’s album “The Way to Peace” By Brent Black, Critical Jazz
Perhaps the greatest joy in writing about music and predominately jazz in particular would have to be taking the occasional sonic path less traveled. Had someone told me two years ago I would have been reviewing the work of an anti-Zionist peace activist, a request that this individual be drug tested would be the expected response from those few that travel in my inner circle.
The Way To Peace is not a political manifesto in the strictest sense of the word but instead I will allow Siegel’s words to speak for him:
³I sought a marriage of spirituality and peace activism, combining my originals with some extraordinary cover material, notably by New York composer Kirk Nurock and Lebanese composer Ahmad Kaabour, as well as others.²
From a purely musical perspective, Siegel is a gifted instrumentalist with rich vocals that glide effortlessly along with his playing. http://www.criticaljazz.com/ is actually an outgrowth from some inspiration found in of all places – facebook. Having rather outspoken and often (not always) conservative views on the subject of the Palestinian state, I am long on record as encouraging artists to stay away from such incendiary topics as faith, politics and sexual orientation when it comes to social media. The reasoning for an artist to stay away from such potentially damaging topics is not to squash an opposing point of view or monopolize a public forum but from a practical standpoint of alienating a large segment of one’s audience.
The one piece of advice given to me by a former editor of separating the individual from the artist probably best rings true from this perspective. Rich Siegel is and what he sings about. For this reason alone, The Way of Peace is a stellar recording.
If an artist is to give of them self in a form of expression be it music, painting or sculpture then all you can ask for is an honest shared perspective. You can respect an opinion and disagree with it. To oversimplify Siegel’s music as that of the “peace movement” would be disingenuous at best. Instead Siegel presents us with an eloquently stated, musically pristine offering of himself and shares a piece of what is in his heart.
Isn’t that what art is all about?