“I do not propose to allow myself to be buried until I am actually dead.”
– Noah Webster
In the music tracks appended here – the 1979-1990 version of Kol Simcha with me at the piano having appeared on the main stage in a main evening program at every annual MJAA “Messiah” international conference during those years – is resurrected.
For anyone who has heard of, but never heard, what a Kol Simcha concert at Messiah Conference was like during what former KS soprano Kathy Shooster recently called, “Kol Simcha’s golden era” – here is the next best thing to being there.
John Adams observed, “There is no pain on earth quite like that of being totally ignored.” It is that pain, visited on me and mine unjustly in a Watergate-like cover up within the MJAA, that leads me to make effort as Dylan Thomas proposed it, to “not go gentle into that goodnight; rage, rage against the dying of the light.” I will not cooperate with the desire of criminals to erase those who witnessed and know about their criminality. What I built with a lifetime of backbreaking effort was well-described in Jerusalem 2005 at my 50th Birthday celebration in The King David Hotel. There it was said …
“I don’t know if any of you here had the chance to see and hear Kol Simcha at the annual summer (MJAA) conferences; but they would take the stage, and sing and play for hours and hours, and the Spirit of God would be so present in the room — and everyone knew the real force, the engine of volcanic creativity in the group, was Bruce Cohen.” – Israeli Cantor/Worship Leader, Jerusalem 2005
You write things like this when people you used to love and work with every day have been trying for over two decades to erase every memory you existed, every word you wrote, every musical note you composed or performed.
Even with the honkey tonk piano I was compelled to play in one of these recorded venues – the place my piano had in the Kol Simcha sound is present enough for the listener to understand what KS was with and without me in the group. (If you go to Kol Simcha’s Let God Arise album, and listen to the sound without it.) I leave it to the listener to decide what that difference might be.
FYI – More notes follow the link index to the recordings here:
Kol Simcha LIVE PERFORMANCES
1. Sing Hallelujah (Live At Mt. Holly) – Music & Lyrics: Rick Coghill & Joel Chernoff, Vocal Arrangement: J. Finkelstein, Vocal Direction: J. Finkelstein. Piano Arrangement: Bruce Cohen ©Messianic Music & Messianic Publishing & Bruce Cohen respectively.
2. Shomer Yisrael (Live At Mt. Holly) – Song & Vocal Arrangement: Hasidic Folk Festival, Vocal Direction: J. Finkelstein Piano Arrangement: Bruce Cohen ©1979 Hasidic Folk Festival, Kol Simcha & Bruce Cohen respectively.
To understand what difference in quality before and after I left the group caused the start of the rupture in Finkelstein, and motivated Kol Simcha members to pepper Finkelstein with requests for me to return to lead rehearsals and write new music for them ––– go to Spotify (free) via this link and look up “Fall Upon Us Now: Greatest Hits 1978-1999 by Bruce Cohen – and compare the songs Eli, Eli and Revival Has Come with their Finkelstein-generated synthetic orchestral background, with the piano-driven arrangements I played and arranged. Thank You Lord has no parallel live performance, but the Let God Arise track is so bad, you should listen to it anyway. I think an A/B listen will pretty much explain all that followed.
To prevent his own musicianship from being heard directly alongside mine, Finkelstein broke his contract with me for use of my songs (that I be present in the studio when my 4 of the 10 songs on the album were being recorded, so I could give my production input before the money and time were spent) – and held the recording sessions in secret until entirely done – so only his musical decisions were expressed in the music. My piano – and my studio production skills – were deliberately shut out in violation of contract, and by a swath of false oaths, false statements, and harm-doing. The result was disastrous. The leader of another musical ministry approached me after the release of Let God Arise, and asked me with bewilderment in his voice, “Bruce, what on earth happened to that last album? I mean, compared to Dawning (the previous KS album in which I produced, arranged, and played), it stinks!” My reply was, “I was shut out entirely from the project. I just gave them permission to use four of my songs; but I was not in the studio with them for one minute.”
Let the reader understand.
It is my hope that hearing this ghost-presence from the past – that carried the conference’s main auditoriums every year into paroxysms of worship – will speak more loudly than the efforts of those trying to erase it – and me.
Again, as said Webster, “I do not propose to allow myself to be buried until I am actually dead.”
I hope these sounds bring you joy. It still gives me joy to hear them.
For Zion’s sake – always,
Bruce L. Cohen
Rabbi & Music Director, Congregation Beth El of Manhattan (1993-present)
Former Pianist, Arranger, Producer, Ass’t Conductor • Kol Simcha
Former Pianist, Guitarist, Arranger, Producer, Backup Vocalist • Cohen & Rose
Former Stage Musician’s Coordinator • Messiah Conferences