It is a wonderful disc. Congratulations for bringing to life not only the words of Hafez but also his spirit, through your music. I am really enjoying the disc; I find it uplifting...some welcome clarity and light in these rather dark times.
all the best,
Julie Miller, Canada
CFLX Sherbrooke, QC
We don't know much about the life of the fourteenth century Iranian poet known popularly as Hafiz, but his influence, especially in Iran and Afghanistan has been
long-lasting and profound. In those countries, copies of his writings are ubiquitous, his poetry is often incorporated into music and his sayings have become well known proverbs. Even outside that region though, the writings of Hafiz have generated interest, including here in the United States where he was discussed by luminaries like Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson . His poetry has also been an inspiration for contemporary songwriters, including Ira and Julia Levin, who adapted the poems of Hafiz into lyrics for the songs for their album My Friend Hafiz.
The Levins are no strangers to ancient sources. Their first album - 36 - which they released in 2008- was a collection of original songs based on themes from the Jewish Tanach and Talmud, so perhaps it's not surprising that in 2009 they decided to base their next CD on the writings of a Sufi mystic. And they've done a remarkable job of it - making accessible with lush arrangements and lilting rhythms the poet's universal themes of love and forgiveness.
Four years after it's original release, The Levins decided to reissue My Friend Hafiz with two bonus tracks, which make the album all the more attractive. We're going to hear one of those bonus tracks, but let's start off with a song called Dropping Keys, which opens the album. Here's Ira Levin on guitar and vocals, Julia Levin on piano and vocals, along with T. Hallenbeck on cello, Aharon Bolsta playing indian flute, tabla and other percussion, Ian Shields on cajon and bongos, Elizabeth Stuart on zarb, shaker and pennywhistle, Dina Maccabee on violin, and Payam Agheli on the Persian flute known as the ney....
One of the love poems of a Sufi mystic turned into a beautiful love song for us by Ira and Julia Levin, from their newly reissued and expanded CD - My Friend Hafiz. We also heard Troubled and we started off with Dropping Keys. And if you'd like to know more about The Levins, My Friend Hafiz and all their other music, you can find it all at their website - thelevinsmusic dot com - and Levin by the way is spelled l e v i n
- Butch Kara - KZGM/ Cabool, MO
If you're looking for music to soothe your spirit and lift your soul, this album would be a good choice.
The artfully blended voices of Ira Levin and his wife Julia Bordenaro Levin are the perfect vehicle for translating the uplifting poetry of the Sufi master Hafiz for modern listeners. There's magic, beauty and wisdom in these lyrics, and the accompanying instruments support rather than overpower them.
The lyrics exude love, compassion and brotherhood without being syrupy or simplistic.
Hafiz was a 14th-century mystic whose poetry inspires joy and promotes peace within the individual and with others, regardless of faith or ethnicity. His poetry has been widely translated. David Ladinsky translated and published a modern collection titled The Gift in 1999. When Ira Levin received a copy for his birthday in 2005 he was inspired to begin composing songs and music based on the poetry. This album is the result.
The singers are supported by an ensemble including Aharon Wheels Bolsta, T. Hallenbeck, Elizabeth Stuart, Ian Kay Shields, Dina Macabee and Payamj Agheli combining an array of traditional and ethnic instruments.
John Lindermuth Rambles.net
released November 22, 2014
Music inspired by Daniel Ladinsky's renderings of the poetry of 14th century mystic poet, Hafiz of Shiraz.
The Levins are: Ira Scott Levin and Julia Bordenaro Levin
Lyrical Adaptation: Ira Scott Levin
Music by The Levins
Produced by: The Levins
Recorded in San Francisco, CA at Broken Radio Studios and Different Fur.
Engineers: Chris Fletcher and Carly Benham
Mixed by Chris Fletcher
Mastered by: Capitol records by Robert Vogien
Album Design and Layout: Brody Lowe
Produced by The Levins
Recorded at : Mark Dann Studios (NYC, Woodstock, NY)
Mied and Mastered by: Mark Dann
All musicians are listed on the tracks.