Naqshon's Leap
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Naqshon's Leap

Memphis, TN | Established. Jan 01, 2017 | SELF

Memphis, TN | SELF
Established on Jan, 2017
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This band has not uploaded any videos

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"Religious Rocker"

It’s a hazy summer afternoon and Jason Caplan, a nice Jewish boy from Richmond, Virginia, is singing Gurbani. That’s right, Gurbani, the sacred songs of the Sikhs. As he sits in the middle of a mostly bare three-room rented space on the second floor of an non-descript office building in Teaneck, New Jersey, Caplan chants the melody like a pro. Like a trusty sidekick, next to him stands his electric guitar which is, after his laptop, the most expensive thing in here. The folding chair he’s sitting on is covered with velour that looks like it’s from 1976, and sounds like it too. It creaks beneath him as he leans forward to translate for the stunned journalist sitting opposite. “It means that there is one God and that we should believe in Him.”

No, Caplan has no plans to convert to the Sikh religion, but he has learned all about the faith from Gurnam Singh, whom he met at jury duty and who is the resident Sikh (and tabla player) in his band, Naqshon’s Leap — a band of multi-faith members with two things in common — a love of jazz and a belief in one God. So while many Jewish 29-year olds are concerning themselves with setting their TiVos and purchasing the latest Blackberry, Caplan has set his sights on a loftier goal.

“There are a lot of groups that come together based on their secular approach to life,” explains Caplan. He speaks with the earnestness of a politician and the equanimity of a yogi as he continues. “They say, once we drop religion, then we can work together. The approach with my friends and I is that because we’re religious, because we believe in one God, that’s what brings us together.”

I note the half-painted walls around us, and the thought crosses my mind that Caplan’s humble surroundings are no match for his exalted purpose. “The point is to transcend the religious divide through music,” he says. His speech quickens as he grows more impassioned. “I don’t have much to say to a Muslim, but through music we can exchange a lot of ideas, communicate outside of our traditions, but still reinforce each other’s beliefs.”

Why the name? “Naqshon was the first to jump into the Sea of Reeds. He was the first to take a leap, to take a chance,” he explains. “That what’s we’re doing. Taking a chance with this whole ‘God unites us’ thing.”

It was this monotheistic thread that brought the group together. Well that, and mass transit.

Most people rush by the musicians they see in a crowded New York subway station. Caplan gives them his card and asks them to call. “I just was so taken by his music,” he recalls of meeting William Ruize on the “A” train platform. It was a short time later that he approached Alvin Hall, a bassist, on a New Jersey bus, and Shawn Hill, a drummer, on — you guessed it — another subway. Naqshon’s Leap had now taken off.

Caplan’s musical start was early. “I formed a band in ninth grade, called ‘Hobbit and Bridge’ — you may have heard of us,” Caplan deadpans. After attending Emory University in Atlanta, Caplan moved to New York to expand his musical horizons.

Like a true music fanatic, Caplan blew most of his money hosting a concert which featured a very famous, but very expensive jazz musician. “I didn’t have any business sense back then — and by back then, I mean 2004,” Caplan jokes.

But he’s got his wits about him now. Dressed in a casual brown polo shirt, slacks, and flip-flops, Caplan shows me around his new digs. Just two short years after said business blunder, Caplan is sitting in Intunation LLC, his very own music studio, which also doubles as a forum for his trans-religious message.

Caplan didn’t let those half-painted walls stop him from holding his first annual Universal Language Day concert here in June, in which he celebrated jazz as a language that transcends ethnic diversity. “To me, jazz is the only type of music that you can hear a person speaking as he plays,” explains Caplan. “Just like you might be able to hear a person’s voice on the phone and know who it is, I can hear someone’s personality through their music and know who it is.”

Caplan’s clear blue eyes grow serious as he articulates his goals for the future. He’d eventually like to hold all sorts of classes at Intunation — music, dance, even philosophy. And film a video documentary about the band. And open up a few more Intunation Music Studios. And publish the three books he’s been working on. Oh yeah, and eventually he’d like to play in all the major religious centers of the world, places like the Taj Mahal and the Western Wall.

For now Caplan will have to settle for more grounded goals, like filming a televised performance for Shalom TV that will air this fall. But with the message that he’s spreading, coupled with his energetic and focused motivation, he’s not too far off from where he wants to be.

My tape recorder clicks off and Caplan senses the need to drive it all home. “Not everyone can go to a mosque, or a shul, or a gurudwara (a Sikh temple),” he sa - American Jewish Life Magazine


"Religious Rocker"

It’s a hazy summer afternoon and Jason Caplan, a nice Jewish boy from Richmond, Virginia, is singing Gurbani. That’s right, Gurbani, the sacred songs of the Sikhs. As he sits in the middle of a mostly bare three-room rented space on the second floor of an non-descript office building in Teaneck, New Jersey, Caplan chants the melody like a pro. Like a trusty sidekick, next to him stands his electric guitar which is, after his laptop, the most expensive thing in here. The folding chair he’s sitting on is covered with velour that looks like it’s from 1976, and sounds like it too. It creaks beneath him as he leans forward to translate for the stunned journalist sitting opposite. “It means that there is one God and that we should believe in Him.”

No, Caplan has no plans to convert to the Sikh religion, but he has learned all about the faith from Gurnam Singh, whom he met at jury duty and who is the resident Sikh (and tabla player) in his band, Naqshon’s Leap — a band of multi-faith members with two things in common — a love of jazz and a belief in one God. So while many Jewish 29-year olds are concerning themselves with setting their TiVos and purchasing the latest Blackberry, Caplan has set his sights on a loftier goal.

“There are a lot of groups that come together based on their secular approach to life,” explains Caplan. He speaks with the earnestness of a politician and the equanimity of a yogi as he continues. “They say, once we drop religion, then we can work together. The approach with my friends and I is that because we’re religious, because we believe in one God, that’s what brings us together.”

I note the half-painted walls around us, and the thought crosses my mind that Caplan’s humble surroundings are no match for his exalted purpose. “The point is to transcend the religious divide through music,” he says. His speech quickens as he grows more impassioned. “I don’t have much to say to a Muslim, but through music we can exchange a lot of ideas, communicate outside of our traditions, but still reinforce each other’s beliefs.”

Why the name? “Naqshon was the first to jump into the Sea of Reeds. He was the first to take a leap, to take a chance,” he explains. “That what’s we’re doing. Taking a chance with this whole ‘God unites us’ thing.”

It was this monotheistic thread that brought the group together. Well that, and mass transit.

Most people rush by the musicians they see in a crowded New York subway station. Caplan gives them his card and asks them to call. “I just was so taken by his music,” he recalls of meeting William Ruize on the “A” train platform. It was a short time later that he approached Alvin Hall, a bassist, on a New Jersey bus, and Shawn Hill, a drummer, on — you guessed it — another subway. Naqshon’s Leap had now taken off.

Caplan’s musical start was early. “I formed a band in ninth grade, called ‘Hobbit and Bridge’ — you may have heard of us,” Caplan deadpans. After attending Emory University in Atlanta, Caplan moved to New York to expand his musical horizons.

Like a true music fanatic, Caplan blew most of his money hosting a concert which featured a very famous, but very expensive jazz musician. “I didn’t have any business sense back then — and by back then, I mean 2004,” Caplan jokes.

But he’s got his wits about him now. Dressed in a casual brown polo shirt, slacks, and flip-flops, Caplan shows me around his new digs. Just two short years after said business blunder, Caplan is sitting in Intunation LLC, his very own music studio, which also doubles as a forum for his trans-religious message.

Caplan didn’t let those half-painted walls stop him from holding his first annual Universal Language Day concert here in June, in which he celebrated jazz as a language that transcends ethnic diversity. “To me, jazz is the only type of music that you can hear a person speaking as he plays,” explains Caplan. “Just like you might be able to hear a person’s voice on the phone and know who it is, I can hear someone’s personality through their music and know who it is.”

Caplan’s clear blue eyes grow serious as he articulates his goals for the future. He’d eventually like to hold all sorts of classes at Intunation — music, dance, even philosophy. And film a video documentary about the band. And open up a few more Intunation Music Studios. And publish the three books he’s been working on. Oh yeah, and eventually he’d like to play in all the major religious centers of the world, places like the Taj Mahal and the Western Wall.

For now Caplan will have to settle for more grounded goals, like filming a televised performance for Shalom TV that will air this fall. But with the message that he’s spreading, coupled with his energetic and focused motivation, he’s not too far off from where he wants to be.

My tape recorder clicks off and Caplan senses the need to drive it all home. “Not everyone can go to a mosque, or a shul, or a gurudwara (a Sikh temple),” he sa - American Jewish Life Magazine


"If music be the food of love.."

Tu B’Av, called by many the Jewish Valentine’s Day, dates back to the Second Temple, when at the beginning of the grape harvest, unmarried girls dressed in white would dance in the vineyards and unmarried men would admire them and find a partner among them. Today it is often celebrated with singles events and weddings, and this year at the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, with a concert.

"People don’t usually do much for Tu B’Av," said Rabbi Steve Golden, the director of Judaic Programs at the JCC, "so we decided to use the day," which this year falls on Aug. 9, "as a hook to bring people out."

The concert, called the New Jewish Music and Comedy Showcase, will feature Naqshon’s Leap, the Aryeh Kunstler Band, and Lost Tribe, a professional improvisational comedy troupe.


Jason Caplan of Naqshon’s Leap affectionately holds his guitar.
Naqshon’s Leap was formed a few years ago, when Jewish guitarist Jason Caplan became friends with Muslim drummer William Ruiz. "We had long talks about religion, politics, and social issues," Caplan said. Although they rarely agreed with each other, "we committed to working on developing a way to communicate that would be able to transcend these issues," he continued. Their solution was music, and so they formed a band. In November 2005, the multi-faith group grew to include Gurnam Singh, a Sikh tabla drummer, and Alvin Harrison, a Gospel bass player.

The band’s title originated from the Bible’s story of Naqshon ben Amminodav, who leapt into the Red Sea before it split, confident that God would split it. "I felt that our commitment to each other as musicians to try this project was a certain leap of faith," Caplan said. In addition to regular concerts, the band played at the Sikh Temple of Long Island where they sang two Sikh holy songs during services. "It was incredible," Caplan said. "We hope to visit other houses of worship to learn their music and perform it."

"They present music as a universal language," the JCC’s Golden said. "They’re a really awesome group."

Caplan is also excited to be playing on Tu B’Av. "I hope our music works toward the marriage between humans and God," he said.

The Aryeh Kunstler Band was formed four months ago. Kunstler had been in Israel playing on his own, until he met up with bass-player Jon Taub and drummer Jason Horowitz. Aryeh Kunstler’s father, Avi Kunstler, is the co-founder of the Jewish cultural production company Black Box Entertainment, and so the band got involved with it. "We both showcase the work of some of the artists working on our projects and expose new talent to new venues and new audiences," said co-founder of Black Box Entertainment Matt Okin. So far the band has played in various showcases around New York City and has opened for the popular Jewish band Blue Fringe. This will be the Kunstler band’s first performance in New Jersey, and the group is releasing its first CD in December. "We’re looking to become the next big name in Jewish music," Kunstler said.

At the JCC perfomance, he added, he hopes to "inspire people in the audience, especially since the event is coming right after the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av."

Lost Tribe, which is part of Black Box Entertainment, prides itself on being the only Jewish-infused professional improvisational comedy troupe. The group, which was formed by Mordy Lahasky, a New York Improv Competition finalist, Neil Fleischmann, "Standup New York’s Funniest Rabbi," and Kimberly Miller of the Revolution Improv and the Gin Soaked Cats has been performing at assorted functions in New York and New Jersey for about a year.

The New Jewish Music and Comedy Showcase came into being in the spring, when Golden met with Matt Okin. "We were trying to have more performing arts under the Judaic department," Golden recalled. "It’s more interesting for young people, as opposed to standard lectures." Also, he added, a showcase "can be of interest to anybody, both Jews and non-Jews."

Okin agreed. "While Bergen County is close to New York and many of us take advantage of the Jewish culture offered there, we believe the community both needs and deserves such culture here as well," he added.

The event is being cosponsored by JCC on the Palisades, Hillel & Teen Connections of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, and Black Box Entertainment. For more information, go to the JCC’s Website, www.jccotp.org.
- The Jewish Standard


"If music be the food of love.."

Tu B’Av, called by many the Jewish Valentine’s Day, dates back to the Second Temple, when at the beginning of the grape harvest, unmarried girls dressed in white would dance in the vineyards and unmarried men would admire them and find a partner among them. Today it is often celebrated with singles events and weddings, and this year at the JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly, with a concert.

"People don’t usually do much for Tu B’Av," said Rabbi Steve Golden, the director of Judaic Programs at the JCC, "so we decided to use the day," which this year falls on Aug. 9, "as a hook to bring people out."

The concert, called the New Jewish Music and Comedy Showcase, will feature Naqshon’s Leap, the Aryeh Kunstler Band, and Lost Tribe, a professional improvisational comedy troupe.


Jason Caplan of Naqshon’s Leap affectionately holds his guitar.
Naqshon’s Leap was formed a few years ago, when Jewish guitarist Jason Caplan became friends with Muslim drummer William Ruiz. "We had long talks about religion, politics, and social issues," Caplan said. Although they rarely agreed with each other, "we committed to working on developing a way to communicate that would be able to transcend these issues," he continued. Their solution was music, and so they formed a band. In November 2005, the multi-faith group grew to include Gurnam Singh, a Sikh tabla drummer, and Alvin Harrison, a Gospel bass player.

The band’s title originated from the Bible’s story of Naqshon ben Amminodav, who leapt into the Red Sea before it split, confident that God would split it. "I felt that our commitment to each other as musicians to try this project was a certain leap of faith," Caplan said. In addition to regular concerts, the band played at the Sikh Temple of Long Island where they sang two Sikh holy songs during services. "It was incredible," Caplan said. "We hope to visit other houses of worship to learn their music and perform it."

"They present music as a universal language," the JCC’s Golden said. "They’re a really awesome group."

Caplan is also excited to be playing on Tu B’Av. "I hope our music works toward the marriage between humans and God," he said.

The Aryeh Kunstler Band was formed four months ago. Kunstler had been in Israel playing on his own, until he met up with bass-player Jon Taub and drummer Jason Horowitz. Aryeh Kunstler’s father, Avi Kunstler, is the co-founder of the Jewish cultural production company Black Box Entertainment, and so the band got involved with it. "We both showcase the work of some of the artists working on our projects and expose new talent to new venues and new audiences," said co-founder of Black Box Entertainment Matt Okin. So far the band has played in various showcases around New York City and has opened for the popular Jewish band Blue Fringe. This will be the Kunstler band’s first performance in New Jersey, and the group is releasing its first CD in December. "We’re looking to become the next big name in Jewish music," Kunstler said.

At the JCC perfomance, he added, he hopes to "inspire people in the audience, especially since the event is coming right after the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av."

Lost Tribe, which is part of Black Box Entertainment, prides itself on being the only Jewish-infused professional improvisational comedy troupe. The group, which was formed by Mordy Lahasky, a New York Improv Competition finalist, Neil Fleischmann, "Standup New York’s Funniest Rabbi," and Kimberly Miller of the Revolution Improv and the Gin Soaked Cats has been performing at assorted functions in New York and New Jersey for about a year.

The New Jewish Music and Comedy Showcase came into being in the spring, when Golden met with Matt Okin. "We were trying to have more performing arts under the Judaic department," Golden recalled. "It’s more interesting for young people, as opposed to standard lectures." Also, he added, a showcase "can be of interest to anybody, both Jews and non-Jews."

Okin agreed. "While Bergen County is close to New York and many of us take advantage of the Jewish culture offered there, we believe the community both needs and deserves such culture here as well," he added.

The event is being cosponsored by JCC on the Palisades, Hillel & Teen Connections of UJA Federation of Northern New Jersey, and Black Box Entertainment. For more information, go to the JCC’s Website, www.jccotp.org.
- The Jewish Standard


Discography

All music is at www.myspace.com/naqshonsleap
See the new documentary - www.youtube.com/universalroom.com
Read the story of Naqshon -- www.quagii.blogspot.com

Photos

Bio

The band's name is based on a character in the Torah, Naqshon ben Aminadav. When the newly freed slaves came to the Red Sea, they began to despair. Naqshon leapt into the water and walked until the water reached his nose. The sea split and the rabbis credited Naqshon with great merit. This story represents the leap of faith the musicians took to work together and build a positive project. Along with the diversity of the group, the music is a synthesis of the music of the world. The ultimate goal is to transcend all styles and create a unique voice.