SAUL KAYE
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SAUL KAYE

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
Blues Acoustic

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San Francisco singer-songwriter Saul Kaye is not an ordained rabbi, but he can lead the morning prayers with the best of them. That explains his new CD, “Jewish Blues Volume III,” subtitled “t’filah” (prayer), in which he sets the Shacharit service to music.

He even includes a minute of silence for personal prayers.

Kaye’s blues chops are beyond reproach, and though he only occasionally ventures into straight-up blues, that vibe hovers in the background. With a voice pocked with pain and experience (not unlike Glen Hansard of “Once” fame), Kaye growls his way through bright arrangements of “Adon Olam” and “Ma Tovu.”

“Blessed Be the Name” echoes the fingerpicking country blues style of Elizabeth Cotton, while Kaye’s waltz-time version of “Ashrei” incorporates tasty pedal steel and slack key guitar touches.

Kaye’s broad musical tastes include a feel for Middle Eastern–flavored salsa, as in his “Halleluyah,” even as he shows off his slide guitar skills on “Kol Han’Shamah” and the “Vahavta.” The latter has a rum-infused Jimmy Buffet feel, a questionable mash-up for a prayer of this significance, but Kaye has fun with it nevertheless.

The album’s most adventurous track, “Sh’ma,” clocks in at six-plus minutes. He hurls all his rock, blues and soul influences at this central Jewish prayer, with his whispered vocals sticking to the traditional tune, something he also does on his harder rocking “Aleinu.”

Kaye continues the parade of genres with his country-blues version of “Mi Chamocha” and surf pop underscoring of “Al Tira” (the latter includes passages from FDR, Nachman of Braslav and Kaye’s own homily on fearlessness). He wraps it up with “Oseh Shalom,” rendered like a bluesy incarnation of a New Orleans marching band.

Rarely does Jewish music produce an artist with both impeccable blues chops and the kavanah of a Hassid. Kaye fits that odd bill, and we’re better off for it.

-Dan Pine J Weekly 3/29/2012 - JWeekly


“With “Doctor’s Orders,” Saul Kaye proves he is well on his way to mastering the art of musical storytelling.” – Fran Zeccola (Sf Observer)

“Saul could probably pull off any style with pipes like his. Give him a piano and this man could do anything. He can take you from a Randy Newman swagger to a timeless Billy Joel-like hook to a Bruce Hornsby texture, never missing a step, never giving up the integrity. You've got a songwriter here who's bound to turn some important heads.” – CD BABY


"A real solid album; very confident and competent. A very fully realized personality well-expressed!"
- Roslaie Howarth KFOG (San Francisco)


“This free-spirit Californian singer-songwriter has a potential bigger than his home state and has a surprisingly original sound …” - Genevieve Will Indie Music.com

“…smokin! Saul' new album is all that and a donut! Warm witty songs in a Dave Matthews Band vibe make this album a huge winner.
…there is not a bad song on this CD. …Very highly recommended!!! “ – Here and There.net


“Saul Kaye is a lyrical mix master, but the real depth comes from his musical talents on piano and guitar.”
…The Idaho Statesman

“Crooning about in a blues-rock fashion that could get even the most sleepy coffeehouse jumping, Saul Kaye could easily be compared to fellow South African Dave Matthews. Yes his guitar playing is that good. .. his guitar work is steeped in originality. Vocally he accomplishes great harmonies while he sings true-to-form real stories that anyone can relate to. “

-J-Sin Smother.net

“On his CD, Doctor’s Orders, he steeps smart pop in jazz swing and blues bluster to create a concoction that’s definitely radio ready, but with considerable substance.”
-Stephanie Kalem, East Bay Express


“Love the New Disc, Reminds me of Lowell Keep up the good work!
Tom McCarter-DJ - KUSP FM, Santa Cruz

“Young Singer Songwriter loves this area, returning after recent triumphant gigs with another smart dance party”
-North Bay Bohemian

“But Saul Kaye's "Doctor's Orders" is indeed a rock & roll record, and a refreshingly upbeat one, too The softness of the textures is actually deceiving. "The News" strikes the gut with its attack on the Iraqi war and media propaganda; "Boxing With Jim Beam" pulls no punches in its depiction of a woman married to an abusive alcoholic; and "What He's Got" is a morality tale about a greedy man who finally gets what he deserves.
"Desert Blues" is the biggest winner, a cinematic travelogue with sizzling slide guitar and thought-provoking confessions such as, "And if I meet my maker/I want to know her name."Although it definitely does not sound retro, "Doctor's Orders" recalls the best LPs from the late '60s - ones that you make think while you're tapping your feet.”

Adam Harrington WHISPERIN’ AND HOLLERIN’
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“If …..had more lyrical depth and emotional sincerity, he’d sound like Saul Kaye. While some of the acoustic strumming and laidback rhythms may resemble Matthews’ work, the songwriting is far stronger; Kaye is a gifted storyteller, and this is more of a collection of short stories than folk-styled grooves.

-KIRBY RAYNE SHOTGUN REVIEWS 4/21/05

“Kaye has produced a record that is made for longevity. Comparisons to Dave Matthews or Jack Johnson are inevitable, but neither have Kaye's vivid storytelling. Kaye's metaphors and analogies aren't difficult to comprehend yet that's part of its charm. This is unpretentious brain food with a solid groove, lifting elements of folk, blues, and '70s soft rock. “

BARRY ANDREWS
REVIEW CENTRE UK
4/7/05





" Dear Saul, How are you? We met at G St Pub in Davis last time you came, and I bought both of your cds. And I wanted to let you know that THEY'RE AWSOME!!!!! And I'm not the only one who thinks so... My roommate stole them from me (along with my cd player) and we had them playing for about a week straight non stop. They still fill two of the three cd places in the player (the third is empty). So anyway, I just wanted to compliment your music and let you know we're huge fans.

Sincerely, Paloma

PS, you sound just as good live as on the cds."
- Various


While driving to his next gig in Oregon, Saul Kaye muses in a phone interview: "Right now in the world, people are feeling the blues with the economic recession. I try to do a little 'tikkun olam' (Hebrew for 'repairing the world')."

"Music heals people. It can take them out of their life. It can give a fresh perspective, lift the spirits, and people see that maybe their life is good compared to some of the stories," he adds.

Kaye will try to convey some of that healing — with the help of the blues — at a concert at the Oshman Family Jewish Community Center in Palo Alto on Thursday, Jan. 7, at 7:30 p.m. A guitarist, pianist and singer, Kaye will perform a solo show of his "Jewish blues."

Born in South Africa and raised in New Haven, Brooklyn and central California, Kaye is currently based in El Sobrante. He attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston as well as the University of California at Berkeley.

Kaye says he was first drawn to the blues at the age of 10 listening to a radio show called "The Blues Train." On his website jewishblues.org, he writes: "The blues train would depart at 8 p.m. every Monday night and arrive Tuesday morning about 6 a.m. I would play my guitar all night with Robert Johnson, Muddy Waters and B.B. King until I passed out somewhere in the wee hours. ... It left an indelible impression on my young spirit."

By the time he was a teenager, Kaye had decided that he would become a professional musician. Within a few years he was forming bands, touring the world with his music and releasing several CDs. The cover of his 2004 folk rock CD "Doctor's Orders" features Kaye tossing his guitar in the air in a redwood forest. His 2007 release "A Taste of Paradise" shows Kaye on the cover, ready to bite into a red apple that is strategically positioned in front of a female nipple. It contains an eclectic mix of rock, funk, pop and reggae.

Still, Kaye says that it was only in the last few years that he found his Jewish voice. Like many young Jews, he says, he "proclaimed emancipation from the temple" after his bar mitzvah, but gradually started to come back to Judaism over the years. He found that his Jewish heritage resonated with his original love for the African-American blues, saying that Jews and black Americans have long shared a spiritual kinship bound together by the struggle for freedom and against discrimination.

"Jews have been enslaved in many countries over the centuries. ... So, like the African slave experience proved to be a catalyst for blues, so the path of Jewish history fostered its own form of soulful tears. ...," Kaye writes on jewishblues.org.

"You can hear it in the synagogue when the Torah and the books of Prophets are read, chanted in tropes passed down through time, recounting forbearers' sorrows on days of tragedy like Tisha B'Av, or remembering celebrations of freedom on Passover, when Jews recall the Israelite's 'Song at the Sea,' as the waters of freedom parted," he continues.

Kaye's take on the blues is refined yet raw. Traditional Jewish songs are slightly altered and reincarnated with the rhythms, harmonies, vocal styles and melodic patterns of the blues.

Kaye regularly takes the Jewish blues on the road. He says he plays more than 200 shows per year in spots such as Whitefish, Montana; Houston; Philadelphia; and Tel Aviv at a roughly even mix of secular and Jewish venues. This past summer, Kaye studied at an Orthodox yeshiva (Jewish school) in the religiously intense Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem. As a Jew who grew up in the Reform movement and has seen many people treat their religion as a "side thing," he was amazed to find what he describes as "an entire community constructed around Judaism and Torah," with people devoting their lives to religion.

During Kaye's stay in Israel, he composed the songs for his album "Jewish Blues Vol. 2," set to be released in February 2010. Now that he's back in the United States, Kaye describes his religious identity as "flexadox." He often performs wearing traditional cloth fringes and head coverings. - Palo Alto Weekly Review


Schooled in everything from traditional jazz to flamenco guitar to avant-garde fusion, Saul Kaye has a huge arsenal to choose from when he picks up his guitar and steps up to the microphone. Choosing the bluesy rock n’ roll medium for his 8th release is the obvious choice for the range of colloquial stories and tales he tells on this album. Kaye’s flamenco and blues influences really come out in these songs, and by layering his guitar over sparse honky tonk-like piano comps he sets a cozy western stage for songs like “Desert Blues,” “Rubyhill,” and “Hey Johnny Johnny.”

All of the tunes have a terrific narrative quality, telling stories about people in the dumps, down on their luck, skipping bail, low on money, losing in life and love. But with his powerful singing voice, Doctor Kaye orders his characters to take it easy and soak in the sun. “Angels fly cause they take themselves so lightly,” he sings on the title song.

With “Doctor’s Orders,” Saul Kaye proves he is well on his way to mastering the art of musical storytelling.

Visit www.saulkaye.com for more info on this band.

-Frank Zeccola
- SAN FRANCISCO OBSERVER




This is just what the doctor ordered. Predictable critical cliché? Of course but I had to go there because its right-on. Crooning about in a blues-rock fashion that could get even the most sleepy coffeehouse jumping, Saul Kaye could easily be compared to fellow South African Dave Matthews. Yes his guitar playing is that good. Perhaps its because he’s studied with flamenco guitarist Juan Serrano and jazz fusion guitarist Jeff Massanari, that his guitar work is steeped in originality. Vocally he accomplishes great harmonies while he sings true-to-form real stories that anyone can relate to.

- J-Sin (July 26th, 2004 )
- SMOTHER.NET



Saul Kaye - Doctor's Orders (Cool Water Records)
Jul 12, 2004
“…smokin! Saul' new album is all that and a donut! Warm witty songs in a Dave Matthews Band vibe make this album a huge winner.
…there is not a bad song on this CD. And I do believe Saul's friends who helped him record this gem deserve some props. Sam Bevan played bass,Ricky Carter chipped in on drums,Adam Goodhue also played drums and Cyrise Beatty helped with the vocals on "Vincent Knows".
Very highly recommended!!! “
- THE HERE AND THERE MAGAZINE



Carefree in its sway and but built on a foundation of conviction and inistence, Saul Kaye composes from a palette rooted in jazz and pop harmonies that often hitch a ride on the back of Americana and well-steeped blues. But Saul could probably pull off any style with pipes like his. Give him a piano and this man could do anything. He can take you from a Randy Newman swagger to a timeless Billy Joel-like hook to a Bruce Hornsby texture, never missing a step, never giving up the integrity. You've got a songwriter here who's bound to turn some important heads. - CD BABY



Somewhere between the folky catchy acoustic Jack Johnson and the effervescent moe lies Saul Kaye. With a lucid vocal sound and a opinion quite nearly as eloquent, Kaye lays his cards on the table powerfully but gently. His phrasing, paired with an easygoing and exuberantly funky sound, make Kaye instantly likeable, musically and personally - regardless how little we actually know of him. This free-spirit Californian singer-songwriter has a potential bigger than his home state and has a surprisingly original sound coming from a place where everything’s been done at least twice.

As refreshingly as Kaye’s lyrics wash over you, it’s truly his instrumental work that emerges as poetic. Seeming as though he has many more influences than he’s willing to claim, Kaye dabbles in the jam scene, the southern-rock influenced guitar effects, the sentimental Sting-style edgy ballads (no, not 80’s rock edgy ballads), and the jazz piano. Sure, lots of musicians have many stimuli, but Kaye effectively unites all these sounds for a veritably imaginative one all his own, without hint of musical confusion or awkward transitions...

... Kaye’s formidably honest scrutiny of society and life experiences arrive presented in a tightly wrapped package of pure groove. Cheeky commentary is both thought-provoking and more often than not, undoubtedly appreciated. Chilled out piano layered over some strictly jamming guitar flurries create the California ambience easily envied. Both “Desert Blues” (classy piano) and the reggae-partial “What He’s Got” are unquestionably worth a listen, the kind of tracks you put on single-song replay in the stereo.
- Indie-Music.com


Based on information culled from the internet, Bay Area singer-songwriter Saul Kaye seems like he might be one of those impossibly optimistic people we like to hate. (My friend Kelli calls them “happy asses”.) Kaye even looks a little smug on the cover of his third solo release A Taste of Paradise (Cool Water Records), posed strategically holding what one can only presume to be forbidden fruit in front of a naked woman’s breast.

In all honesty, I feel bad jumping to easy conclusions. The fact is, Kaye writes soulful and fun music that is as appealing in its accessibility as it is in its versatility. Jumping styles with easy confidence like Dave Matthews, Bruce Hornsby or Sting, Kaye bounces out the reggae (“Ooh Ooh Ooh”) on one track and brings funk (“CCCBF”) just as deftly on the next. “All That I Want” is a blues/funk jam that Kaye wrote as a hopeful response to a sobering suicide statistic. Repeated listens call to mind artists like Lyle Lovett who appear just as comfortable in front of an orchestra (or “Large Band”) as he would solo acoustic in a Sacramento coffee shop.

Kaye’s adroit guitar work threads it way throughout the songs, playfully interacting with the keys – a scenario that gives the songs their pop flavor. All the performances on the record are strong and coat the record with a confidence and professionalism that isn’t always present on independent releases. A varied and sizeable cast of musical helpers assisted (mainly on bass, keyboards and drums) more than capably on the record but, as songwriter, vocalist, guitarist and producer, this is Kaye’s showcase.

As part of the CD package, Kaye has provided listeners with “insights” to most of the songs. Interestingly, there isn’t one provided for “Pop Party,” my least favorite track on the album. The line “Poor me/I gotta pee/every time something good starts” just lays waste to the fun keyboards and nice melody. Can we agree that mentioning the need to urinate should stay out of the lyrics to songs that are, otherwise, lovely?

“Jump," the second song on the record is, according to the notes provided by Kaye, about making a leap of faith in pursuit of one’s dreams. “I jump/arms wide/ and trust that I can fly. My dreams come true/with you by my side.” Optimistic and encouraging, it’s one of the more traditional pop songs on the album. In other words, it’s Kaye at his radio-ready best.

If radio is where he wants to be, I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s where he ends up.

- Kirsten Klym
cd reviews.com - cd reviews.com


Discography

Still working on that hot first release.

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Bio

It is a rare and beautiful occurrence when an artist manages to interweave his personal life, spiritual path, and art. After releasing 5 CDs of varying styles from the late 90s through 2008, Saul Kaye was pulled towards an idea that he claimed wouldn't leave him alone. This was the natural marriage of Jewish history, characters, and liturgy with the Blues. This Lead to the release of Jewish Blues Volume One- Live!
Jewish Blues Volume One was so well received internationally ( Including several performances in Israel and 16 states in the US) that Saul has decided to continue on this trail blazing path with his new Genre; JEWISH BLUES.
On his Latest Cd JEWISH BLUES VOLUME TWO, Saul Digs deep into the Torah, Psalms and Writings. Written in Montana and Israel (while studying at Mayanot Yeshiva), Volume two employs more Hebrew and Niggunim (wordless melodies) and makes use of Kaye's vast array of stylistic influences. You can hear the gritty tone of his Les Paul on 'Slave Rant', the Delta Acoustic slide howl on 'Two Wolves', and his creative alternative tunings and finger picking on songs like Jonah throughout the Cd. Saul not only explores the characters from the Torah, but he embodies them and you really feel he is actually singing from the voice of Joseph, when he says, 'I'm Just a Dreamer ' or King Saul ( Shaul) when he cries ' Send me someone who can play my blues away!' Journey back again with Kaye as he explores Kings, Prophets and Brothers on Jewish Blues Volume Two. Catch Saul this Spring and summer on his National tour!