Afro-Semitic Experience

The Afro-Semitic Experience began performing in late 1999 as an off-shoot of the creative work of African-American pianist Warren Byrd and Jewish-American bassist David Chevan. In 1999 they were asked if they had a band that could perform their brand of Jewish and African-American music. As much as they liked the idea of expanding the duo to perform large ensemble versions of pieces of sacred music, Chevan and Byrd were also interested in finding a musical setting where they might be able to explore not only the sacred sounds of Jewish and African-American music, but the secular as well. At the time they both belonged to the New Haven based jazz group, Bassology. It was not before they began adding new material to the Bassology set lists. Soon the group was jamming on Klezmer, Gospel songs, spirituals, and Yiddish songs along with their usual assortment of jazz and world music pieces. As word got out they found themselves playing the occasional wedding and Bar Mitzvah (yes! We still do play weddings, Bar Mitzvahs and parties–musicians gotta eat and feed their families!! Plus we have fun bringing joy into the world). People in the New Haven area were thrilled to hear a group that could encompass such a wide range of musical styles and languages. Pretty soon it was obvious that a second band had emerged and that it was no longer Bassology. This is THE AFRO-SEMITIC EXPERIENCE.