Noga Ritter made her inaugural performance as part of Manchester Jewish Museum’s Synagogue Nights autumn 2022 season, delighting the audience with a fusion of diverse musical influences from around the world, in particular Africa, South America and the Middle East.
Joined by Tomer Eldor on Piano and Giuliano Osella on percussion, the trio took us on an eclectic journey informed as much by Ritter’s upbringing in Israel as her experiences of other cultures including taking Hebrew back to its original nomadic context.
The opening song, Falling In Love In The Middle Of Lockdown, had an infectious rhythm with poetic lyrics, whilst Horizon that followed drew on Ritter’s time in Haifa near the sea and reflected strong emotions reinforced by a bluesy piano providing a richer, deeper and hopeful feeling that embraced Senegalese influences as well.
Encounter captured that first time moment – a date; a rhythm; a one-night stand – and the strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable, to be discovered with some outstanding improvisation from Eldor and Osella, before the more reflective אִמָא (pronounced ee-ma; translated mother), the title track of Ritter’s forthcoming album, draws on upon more personal experiences that resonated strongly with tonight’s audience.
Saskia was a haunting piece that offered hope and sympathy to a friend’s turmoil that all present could feel, whilst Waiting For Change sung in a mix of Hebrew and English was a personal reflection on the favela’s in Rio de Janeiro, and the aspiration to fly whilst being tied down.
Next came a truly collaborative community piece as Ritter had met with Manchester Jewish Museum’s songwriting and poetry group to prepare a unique piece to be performed and which resulted in a fantastic new song called ‘A Safe Place’ that was a delight as the audience became fully engaged in the performance.
Closing proceedings was the somewhat ironically titled Departures that was a perfect symbiosis of the whole evening with its personal familial connections something we could all appreciate whilst delighting in its strong melodies and rhythms, which played out beautifully in the serene setting of the synagogue that offered the perfect acoustics to fill our souls.
Much is made of improvisation in jazz, but often it is a practiced art, made to look as if it’s off the cuff; equally it is a singular expression within a performance where each artist gets to solo. Here, we were treated to improvisation in its truest sense as three musicians performed together and off each other, with an awareness and connection with what the others were doing at all times, and the concert was richer and more pleasing because of it.
A closing Q&A was nicely rounded off with an impromptu rendition of Bessie Smith’s Devil’s Gonna Get You, complete with trumpet mimes – but by then this powerful yet intimate set fusing jazz and soulful grooves had already lifted me up and away to a personal heaven.
Noga Ritter Trio will be performing at The London Jazz Festival on 16th November, tickets available via https://efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk/
With their impending album due for release in Spring 2023, further details on Noga Ritter Trio are available at including https://www.nogaritter.com/
Synagogue Nights is a series of live, intimate theatre, art and music events in Manchester Jewish Museum’s beautiful Grade II* listed Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue. For further details of upcoming events go to https://www.manchesterjewishmuseum.com/
Reviewer: Mark Davoren
Reviewed: 20th October 2022
North West End UK Rating: ★★★★★