Jonathan Taylor

Drummer, Percussionist, Composer, Improviser, Educator


Reframing Ancestral Jewish Melodies

It was a pleasure to broadcast Teiku from our studios here at Blue Lake Public Radio to the tens of thousands of listeners who tune in...such personal music...transmuted into something excitingly new and previously unheard, is the pinnacle of creative musical expression.
— Lazaro Vega, Blue Lake Public Radio

Jonathan Taylor and Josh Harlow were both raised Jewish, claiming ancestors from the Ukraine, in the villages of Bershnitz and Monasterishtche. While the Ukrainian-Jewish communities in these villages have long since disappeared, victims of pogroms and the Holocaust, some traditions remain amongst the diaspora. Strikingly, both grew up with a set of songs, intended to be sung on Passover, that are traced back to their respective ancestral villages and are, so far as they know, completely unique to their families.

Upon discovering this amazing coincidence, they started a new project, Teiku, which means “unanswered question” in ancient Hebrew, to document, perform, and breathe new life into these beautiful old melodies. Harlow (piano) and Taylor (drums) are joined by John Lindberg (bass) and Peter Formanek (woodwinds) to set the tunes in a creative music context, balancing carefully set parameters and open improvisation.

A stunning and meaningful project and performance! We must make our music personal.
— Deanna Relyea, Artistic Director, Edgefest Ann Arbor