“If your tastes run to such classics as Yerushalayim Shel Zahav and you enjoy everything from Sephardic to Yiddish to contemporary pop, Katchko’s soprano renditions and acoustic rhythms are the perfect musical menu for you. Her inspiring version of , ” The Place Where I Belong” will have you singing along.”
“Impressively eclectic, Deborah Katchko – another pioneer female cantor puts a refreshing, colorful spin on quintessentially Jewish songs and stories. Drawing upon Middle East rock, Country Western and traditional and contemporary Jewish melodies, Katchko’s powerful voice can sound both sensual and spiritual”
“Connecticut based Cantor Deborah Katchko has wide appeal. With a strong and soulful voice, she covers a broad range of songs in several languages, exposing us to Jewish culture from various times and places.”
Boston University Alumni Magazine
“Nurturing our family’s Jewish identity is an art, rather than a science. Fortunately people like Deborah Katchko can help. Her three cds offer a rich array of traditional and contemporary Jewish music suffused with her warm and welcoming spirit. “
Jewish Woman Magazine
“This edition marks one of the most innovative, important, and creative blending of guitar and Jewish music. It surely will not take away from those Cantors who wish to chant either capella, or with piano or organ, but for those Cantors skilled in playing guitar, this will be a loving and long lasting companion which, I am sure, will touch the hears and souls of the next generation of Jews to hear this incredible music.”
Rabbi/Cantor Jon Haddon
Temple Shearith Israel
What if you were able to sit at the side of a master hazzan, Adolph Katchko, one of the g’dolim of the twentieth century’s Golden Age of hazzanut? While we cannot have that opportunity literally in the twenty-first century, his granddaughter, Hazzan Deborah Katchko Gray, brings us both the notes and the ta’am of this great hazzan and teacher through the composite work under review.
Hazzan Gray has carefully transcribed original compositions by Adolph Katchko, and interpretations thereof by his son— her father, Theodore Katchko — so that generations oiohavei hazzanut can experience their artistry. Adolph Katchko was a master ba’al nusah, a natural improviser within the traditional prayer modes. Yet this book-and-CD should be valued not just for its transcriptions-and-recordings of the musical notes; it offers a family reunion as well as an important treasure of hazzanut.
The book’s opening pages contain Hazzan Gray’s personal reflections on her father’s and grandfather’s hazzanut. She transports us back half a century through Katchko’s original writing along with many pages of accolades from appreciative colleagues, through which we come to know both the heart and mind of this revered hazzan and teacher. This section includes family pictures, plus articles her grandfather wrote. There’s even a priceless undated photo of Adolph being mock-coached by Hazzan Zavel Kwartin atop a mountain in White Sulphur Springs, New York.
Deborah Katchko Gray has wisely set her grandfather’s compositions in lower keys, to make them more accessible for medium-range voices. Male as well as female cantors will find this helpful, especially since the settings include simple guitar chords. The author writes that she has found this kind of accompaniment an effective way to demonstrate the modernity and accessibility of her grandfather’s music for contemporary synagogue goers.
Some of the compositions transcribed in this book have never before been published, among them: Psalm 23, Y’hi ratson for Rosh Hodesh, Kiddush for Rosh Hashanah, and V’shamru for Shabbat. These prayer settings were transmitted to Deborah through her father, Theodore Katchko, whose singing, along with the author’s, is also represented on the CD. That is what makes this collection a representation of three generations of Katchko hazzanut, for it includes the singing of Hazzanim Adolph Katchko from the 1940s, Theodore Katchko — a bass-baritone like his father — during the 1980s-and-90s, and mezzo-soprano Deborah Katchko Gray in the present day. Spanning seven decades, the recordings will enable serious students and lovers of hazzanut to discern echoes of the chant style that was imported from Eastern Europe, along with adaptations to American congregations’ preferences after WWII, and amalgamation with the more rhythmic folk-ballad approach of today’s liturgical music.