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Eclectic Prog • Israel

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Sheshet biography
SHESHET is considered one of the most important Israeli progressive rock bands in history and one of the top groups during the mid-phase of the classic 70s. 1977 was, more precisely, the year when a group of six important musicians, led essentially by SHEM-TOV LEVI, made the one-shot called, just like the band, Sheshet. Ultimately though, the way the band was founded, its connections inside the Israeli scene, plus the ideals that the founder and much of the group shared strongly, all these things ensure, in one way, SHESHET's affiliation to the entire Prog Rock register from Israel. Once you take a deep breath and plunge into this country's progressive incredible history, SHESHET can hardly be forgotten, among early and mid-70s names such as ASHQELON QUILT, DANNY BEN ISRAEL, ZINGALE, ATMOSPHERE and such. Shem-Tov Levi, mildly the same way, can be placed along SHLOMO GRONICH and other minds, the two having even collaborated, founding the equally important and beautiful experience KTZAT ACHERET, about two years before SHESHET's arch.

It is conventional to say that SHESHET started off after Shem-Tov Levi finished recording his own solo debut (and the year of that was 1976). YEHUDITH (Judith) RAVITZ is noted, sometimes, as founder of SHESHET as well. Essentially, what Levi did was to summon some of the best musicians of that time, writing meanwhile the music. Thus, SHESHET also included in the end Schmulik Aroch (bass, percussion and vocals), Shmulik Budagov (guitars and vocals), Ikie Levi (drums) and Adi Renert (keyboards and vocals). Just like any other major (prog) musician or group, the sextet wanted to offer something highly artistic, an orientation bracketed automatically as experimental, unusual and completely opposite to commercial compromises (nowadays instead, any biographer can probably name this, in just two words, "ideally progressive"). The feedback on this ideal was, unfortunately, disastrous, the music selling poorly or finding little audience attraction - the SHESHET ensemble became frustrated by this, just like other 70s artists felt disillusioned. (Turning it a bit off-topic, it seems the authentic/original prog rock in Israel, the one so valorous yet so low received, has its correspondence with prog from Italy and maybe also Germany)

The abovementioned frustration led to a first split, without anything having been recorded. Fortunately though, a reunion concert brought them to the attention of a manager, who persuade...
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4.36 | 59 ratings

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Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

4 stars This curious little release from an obscure one-album wonder Israeli prog outfit is an eye- opening collection of progressive tunes which draw heavily from the more mellow side of jazz fusion and the Canterbury scene. With guitar tones often reminiscent of Phil Miller's work in Hatfield, flute from band leader Shem-Tov Levi which reminds me of some of the more gentle works of Camel or Jade Warrior, and an overall atmosphere which harks back to the first two Return to Forever albums, this is a delightful exploration of more laid-back aspects of the subgenres it draws from and, through this mix of influences, comes up with something truly unique. Special mention has to be made of the excellent vocals from Yehudith Ravitz, who'd go on to have a rather successful solo career after this release.
 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by Joćo Paulo

4 stars Beautiful album from this band from Israel in seventies decade. I by the double CD. We can listen a fusion of Psichedelic Space Rock, Jazz Fusion and some Brasilian Popular Music influencies. A extraordinary surprise for me and we can listen great stuff. Some nice guitar solos improvisations with lyrics in Israeli language made a exotic context in this album. First cd are a great music composition, second have some unusual music composed with some violin and flute parts but very nice. We can listen calm parts with flute, and in same track fast guitar improvisations that give some Jazz context. This is absolutely fusion music with various music contexts. Great album and essential for seventies collectors. I give 4 stars but really 4,5
 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by Sagichim
Special Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars Now this is amazing stuff !! I'm happy to see the high rating for this album placing it exactly where it should , because this is so good and such a great album, such great music, I almost can't believe it! Music is definitely prog but on the lighter side, it's not acustic but never gets heavy ,always have that great feel of a band playing at ease, even on the rockier parts. For the ones seeking harder edged music with heavy guitar and keys look else where! But for the rest of you this is a diamond , everything is so well done and played so good, songs are well written and interesting. It's hard for me to pick a standout since the songs have a wide range of diversity from eclectic prog to great softer parts that evolves effectively! I must say vocals are so well done great harmonies throughout the entire album, Hebrew language can sound ....well actually I don't know how it sounds because I speak it ,but I am sure it sounds very different, although ravitz has this great voice just beautiful. "Clappers" offers the eclectic side of the band starting out with this great piano riff which easily all the band follow gradually simply great, I love the chorus with those harmonies , from the start you realize this band is professionals!! "Colours starts so easily with the piano that you think you might fall asleep in a minute or so , but it builds up with great guitar and more soloing it then climaxes and drums really steals the show with those great poundings , really good! I didn't mean to go song by song but I will say this album goes further and shows Brazilian style , jazz and there is an Israeli vibe to the music which adds to more diversity. Although some of the musicians on the band were inspired from prog artists especially from England there is no imitation just inspiration, the music is totally original and always have this Israeli spin to it and that what makes it so good. Now I definitely must comment on the beautiful flute playing by Levi, so right and never goes noodling like a lot of bands do. " Debka" is the rocker for this album with one riff played over and over by each other of the members include vocals singng the same riff , great guitar soloing and piano as well. "dinosaurus jr." shifts from so many moods so cleverly and in such elegancy , I really can't describe this song , it starts very psychedelic and then goes gentle giant like and some maybe jade warrior like, amazing stuff , it goes through rock fusion jazz all blend together like it was one style. Closing song has a very emotional feel with that jazzy soft vibe and those vocals , it then changes and has a very dramatic atmosphere , this is five stars music right there great flute and drums pounding the way and some crazy piano and then suddenly goes back to the main riff forgetting everything happened a second ago.

I am left with no words for conclusion but I must ... Prog lovers get this , I must say it does not reveal it greatness right away like so many other albums , so have a few spins. Anyway great piece of 70's prog rock of the highest caliber , original music and so much fun too. I also must say very good recording and mixing which is a wonder for me because of all the crapy recording in the 70's especially for prog. Essential and a must have, five stars with no hesitation!!

 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by Lima96

5 stars I can't stop listening this album since it came to my hands. Before I had given it the first listen, I stated that my favourite prog act from Israel was the metal band Orphaned Land, but I guess I will have to change that statement.

The music here is an amazing blend of symphonic prog, jazz, jewish (maybe arab) music (track Debka) and in some moments bossa nova or samba (track Left Foot Samba). Such an unusual mix of styles reminds me of the excellent chilean band MEDIABANDA, with the flute playing alongside with the female voice.

This album has lots and lots of GENTLE GIANT influences everywhere, the vocal arrangements are a great example of this. There is also a great jazz influence in the band's playing style, the drums, piano and bass have very jazzy moments (RETURN TO FOREVER- like), like the song Colours.

The flute is magic, all along the songs, reminding me of bands like Gryphon anytime the instrument is played.

All the compositions in this album are extraordinarily mature, calm for moments but never boring. The vocal sung in hebtrew add a special flavour to the album's magic moments.

The level is overall excellent all along the recording, but I tell all the album listeners to pay special atention on the track Debka, which starts sounding like a traditional israeli dance, to become a fiery jazz rock and to end the same way it started.

I recommend this album to all the fans of symphonic prog. 5 stars.

 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by ProgressiveAttic
Collaborator Eclectic Prog Team

5 stars Israel presents a very interesting and varied progressive rock scene specially during the 70's and 80's and a remarkable classic rock and folk variety of very talented artists (including Matti Caspi, Yehudith Ravitz, Arik Einstein, etc). One of the major exponents of these musical tendencies (yes, all of them +jazz) is Shem-Tov Levi with his characteristic flute and skilled piano playing accompanied by his very competent singing. Prog-wise Levi is one of the epicenters of the Israeli branch being part of projects such as Ktzat Acheret, Tzlil Mechuvan, The Family Album (with Schlomo Gronich) and in 1976 decided to form a new group: Sheshet. For this he teamed with one of the most beautiful voices in music (specifically israeli folk and pop), Yehudith Ravitz.

Levi and Ravitz have always surrounded themselves with very talented artists (being the duets Levi-Gronich and Rechter-Ravitz very enjoyable and progy) , this is no exception since for this album they recruited a group of brilliant artists of rock (Aroch played with Arik Einstein and Shalom Hanoch on israeli rock cornerstone album/rock opera Shablool) and jazz (being Renert a very respected jazz pianist) backgrounds. So what you would expect here is an amazing fusion album (lots of Chick Corea influences) with hints of Gentle Giant (it seems that every israeli band of the era was influenced by the Shulman brothers and co.) and somewhat of a Canterbury atmosphere (the israeli scene has lots of humor and craziness + some tendencies towards a jazzy sound).

When the band was founded they had many troubles getting gigs which is the main reason of their short existence, but an executive of a recording company convinced them to reunite and record the album (thanks god they agreed) which you can still find in most israeli record stores...

Now the song by song review (beware...spoilers...):

Clappers: the album starts by showcasing the abilities of the instrumental band with a jazzy jam featuring a combination of bass, drums, piano, flute and electric guitar followed by a section headed by vocals to develop into a two minute instrumental jam and finish with more beautiful singing. Very complex writing and more than competent playing. 5/5

Colours: the first of many instrumentals. Focused on the piano, the supporting rhythm section is very competent and the flute accompaniment and soloing makes it very enjoyable. 4.5/5

Left Foot Samba: is a must for latin/brazilian jazz/fusion (and Matti Caspi) fans, written by singer (and co-founder) Yehudith Ravitz showing that besides of being a fantastic vocalist she is a very skilled composer (+ the lyrics are fun and well written). Fun song with an amazing flute performance (I'll be saying this a lot because Levi's flute is just magical) but too short of length (3:31 only)... 4.75/5

7/8: as the title announces it has a 7/8 time signature (which is a good sign for us prog nuts), showing the desire of making different and more complex music, the highlights are the rhodes piano, the somewhat odd flute playing, the rhythm section (jazz players would kill for one like this) and the piano that suddenly breaks into the music in several sections with great improvs + Levi's and Ravitz's vocalizations (no lyrics) get a special mention. Highly enjoyable and a bit weird (for prog fans this is completely normal!) tune. 5/5

If Only You Have Come: a sad ballad singed by Levi accompanied by an acoustic piano (with a rhodes intro) with some flute, electric guitar and bass moments. Nice but short prog ballad. 4/5

Autumn Nights: one of my all time favorite songs mainly due to Ravitz's vocals (which are somewhat unusual) and Levi's beautiful flute. It continues in the mood of the previous song with a sad ballad, the guitar licks and the rhythm section deserve an honorable mention. If you liked Ktzat Acheret you are going to love this one! 5/5

Debka: it builds up from a traditional arab tune (Debka dance, as the title announced) performed by Levi in flute and singed by him and the rest of the band (no lyrics), then it turns into a more upbeat rock improv and lots of Jazz with unusual elements and soloing by each member (including vocal). The drums shine with the piano, guitar and flute. 4.75/5

Dinosaurus Jr.: This is for Ktzat Acheret nostalgia... A rock instrumental song led by Levi's beautiful flute (I cannot get tired of it) featuring a very nice melody and filled with lots of jamming. 4.5/5

F Minor: closes the album in a very calmed way and (similarly to 7/8) the title announces the key in which the song is written. F Minor is an instrumental dominated by the flute, piano and rhythm section and it has to end with the wordless vocalizations of Ravitz and Levi. 4.75/5

Highlights? The flute (of course), Ravitz's voice, the piano, the rhythm section, the guitar... what can I say? the entire band!!!

Total: 4.69

This is a no-brainer an absolute prog classic, masterpiece and cornerstone of the amazing and somewhat forgotten Israeli prog/rock/jazz scene....

If you like Chick Corea, Canterbury scene prog, Middle-eastern, Gentle Giant, Yehudith Ravitz, Shem-Tov Levi, Ktzat Acheret and/or israeli music in general this is for you...

 Sheshet by SHESHET album cover Studio Album, 1977
4.36 | 59 ratings

Sheshet Eclectic Prog

Review by ShW1

4 stars SHESHET (six, or Friday from Robinson Crusoe) was an Israeli prog group, led by Shem-Tov Levi, flutist, composer and vocalist, and evolving some top Israeli musicians from the 70's. The music in this album is fresh, uplifting, Jazz and Jazz-Rock related, along with some obvious eastern influences, and as a bonus, features some delicate vocals and vocal harmonies. The overall sound may recall to Chick Corea's more acoustic RTF, or some Canterbury bands. Also there are hints for GENTLE GIANT: All Israeli 'Art rock' musicians from that time admired Gentle Giant and where inspired from that band, and this relation sounds very natural. The music is occasionally instrumental, and occasionally sung in Hebrew. The Hebrew amount is about a half of the album.

As I listened again to this Israeli classic, I've realized how eclectic this album is, in the composition level as well as in the wide range of influences. Take for example the three songs here. Each of them is differing in its style and influences: 'Left foot samba', written by female vocalist Yehudit Ravits, is a Brazilian-flavored, apparently part of the 'Brazilian wave' that flooded Israel that days. 'If Only you had come' ('lu bat'), is a sad, romantic song, with complex harmonies, written in the vein of the great Israeli composer Sasha Argov. 'Autumn nights' is a 4/4 rock song, in a bit heavier mood. It features two solos: one solo from Shem-Tov on recorder, and the other is a steady, tasteful guitar solo from 'slow hand' guitarist Shmulik Budagov.

From the progressive point of view, the opener 'Clappers' ('inbalim') is definitely a progressive track with its complex structure, mood changes, and the wonderful opening piano riff. This track is written in a 5/4 odd time signature, as well as '7/8' (as obliged by the track name), and these are not the only two examples. Shem-Tov Levi announced that as a Bulgarian origin, he got accustomed to odd time signatures from his early childhood. (Bulgarian music holds a lot of these).

The Jazz-Rock influences are present all over the album, and come to its peak at 'Debka'. The way the band 'Jazz rocked' this traditional Arabic motif from the Debka dance, is stunning.

In all, this album is a pinnacle of the Israeli 'Art rock' movement of the 70's, along with KTZAT ACHERET album, in which Shem-Tov Levi participates as well. While KTZAT ACHERET album is more original and innovative, the SHESHET album is more mature, complex structured along with significant Jazz Rock improvisations. Both albums are highly recommended as the best and most progressive efforts of the Israeli 'Art rock' movement of the 70's.

Thanks to Ricochet for the artist addition.

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