TORONTO — Toronto quintet Jaffa Road, known for songs that blend many of the world’s most vibrant musical cultures, is planning to go on a world tour this summer, says founder Aaron Lightstone.
The tour will focus on compositions from the group’s newest album, Where the Light Gets In, which received a Juno nomination and won the group the Canadian Folk Music Award for world music group of the year in 2013.
“We’re hoping to get opportunities in Europe, Israel and the United States,” says Lightstone, who plays oud, guitar and synthesizer for the group.
Lightstone is currently working out the dates and locations with an American touring company. The global exposure would allow the group to spread its influence beyond its niche audience in Canada.
“It’s always exciting to have the opportunity to bring the music to new audiences,” says Aviva Chernick, the group’s entrancing lead singer, who is also currently working on a solo project.
Jaffa Road’s music is a fusion of many musical cultures including Jewish, Arabic and Indian, alongside rock, pop, jazz and electronica. The group also brings traditional songs and prayers to a modern musical context.
Among the songs on Where the Light Gets In is a modern spin on the Jewish prayer Sim Shalom, and Avre Los Ojos, an updated version of a Turkish protest song originally recorded in 1907.
The mix of styles coming together fits a band from a multicultural centre like Toronto, Lightstone says.
“It’s the natural sounds that we hear around us,” he says. “It’s only natural that curious musicians are going to start experimenting with blending them together.”
Jaffa Road hopes to do some concerts in Canada leading up to the tour, Lightstone says.
Jaffa Road will perform at Temple Holy Blossom in Toronto in honour of Yom Ha’atzmaut on Monday, May 5. Some members of the group will join Chernick at a concert at Temple Sinai in June, which will feature a mix of her originals and Jaffa Road tunes.
The band also hopes to play in Yukon at the Dawson City Music Festival in July. Lightstone says the group has really enjoyed bringing its world-beat textures to northern, remote communities.
The five members of Jaffa Road are busy with their own side projects, which include teaching, music therapy and other musical endeavours, until the spring.
Chernick says that as a result, it’s been hard to squeeze in time with her band-mates to practice.
“We usually get together only when we have something to play for,” she says.
“That is the reality of being a musician in our society. It is rarely possible to do just that one project. They’re multifaceted people with lots going on, but that also means it’s a treat when we get to be together.”
As for their victory at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, Chernick says the win was very unexpected.
“To get that acknowledgment and that recognition… even just to be nominated was very exciting,” Lightstone says. “To actually win is just a really nice validation from our community of musical peers.”