Lara St. John has long been a collector of music from Eastern Europe, beginning with her first trip to Hungary at 11 years old. She met jazz pianist Matt Herskowitz several years ago, and he proved a catalyst to her idea that some of these tunes might be well heard anew. This project includes songs from Armenia, Palestine, the Jewish Diaspora, Russia, Macedonia, Serbia, Greece, Romania, and Hungary. Some are fully written, some are partly improvised, but they all come from tunes that Lara has known and loved for years. Among them is Matt’s composition Nagilara, based on the famous Jewish folk song Hava Nagila.
Video of live performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk