Balkan and Middle Eastern music has been a primary focus since 1988. When performing live (and not doing an original score for a multimedia production), Jesse is almost always found playing traditional music from this part of the world. The primary performance vehicle is Şerefé, an ensemble varying in size from a trio to a small Orchestra that has been performing at concerts and dance parties in the western states since 1996. Şerefé (who's name is taken from a Turkish drinking toast "to your honor") dearly loves this music and devotes significant time and energy to it. The repertoire consists of large numbers of Greek, Turkish and Arabic songs, as well as smaller numbers of Bulgarian, Macedonian, Bosnian, Rom, Albanian, Persian and Armenian pieces. Şerefé usually plays mixed repertoire shows, but sometimes plays entire evenings of songs from just one of the cultures mentioned, for ethnic audiences. Jesse is a founding member of Şerefé and plays Bouzouki, Baglama, Flutes, Vocals and percussion in the group. Other core members include Cameron Powers, James Hoskins, Meg York, and Zahara. Members of Şerefé often perform with touring artists from these cultures, such as Latif Bolat, Nabil Azzam, Souhail Kaspar and Naser Musa. To receive notice of upcoming Şerefé activities please join our Google group.
Most of us have travelled and studied abroad in Greece, Turkey, Morocco and Egypt for weeks or years at a time, but our biggest training ground is at the Balkan and Middle Eastern Music and Dance Workshops held each summer in the Mendocino Woodlands of Northern California. Our teachers there are Angele Dimovski, Georges Lamamm, George Chittenden, Lise Leipmann, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Christos Govetas, Haig Manookian, Souren Baronian, Nikolay Kolev, Beth Bahia Cohen, Polly Tapia Ferber, Bob Beer, Merita Halili, Necati Celik, Ergun Tamer, Brenna MacRimmon and others. We are forever grateful for their encouragement and expertise.
Download or purchase Şerefé's CD on Magnatune: