DeLeon plays 15th Century Spanish(1) indie rock (2) infused with the deeply mysterious and entrancing cadences of the ancient Sephardic (3) tradition. DeLeon’s intricate sound has been a long time in the making. Their music, birthed in Spain before the Inquisition and raised in pre-WWII Italy, has finally reached maturity in modern-day Brooklyn (4). The band, named for 12th Century Kabalistic philosopher Moses DeLeon (5) and front man Daniel Saks’ great-grandfather Giorgio DeLeon, was conceived to reconcile Saks’ cultural journey with modern influences (6). By re-imagining these ancient melodies as contemporary pieces, DeLeon has given the world at large a unique chance to experience the rich musical history of Sephardic Judaism. Anxious to show the world the newest trick up his talented sleeve, Saks officially began DeLeon’s journey last April at the Bowery Ballroom where they played their first show alongside Balkan Beat Box. Since then, DeLeon has been very busy (7). They have just been invited to tour with Ozomatli in May. DeLeon will also be showcasing much of their new material at JDub Records’ 5th Anniversary show July 20th at Celebrate Brooklyn in Prospect Park (8). Their much-anticipated self-titled album was released August 12th, 2008 on JDub Records. DeLeon’s groundbreaking sound is as rare as the process that created it. Saks, along with band mates Kevin Snider, Justin Riddle, Amy Crawford and Andrew Oom, pioneered this form, one that marries ancient Sephardic melodies sung in Ladino (9), Hebrew and English with the chaotic symphony of urban living.
1. During this period Spanish Jews were faced with expulsion orchestrated by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Think Columbus.
2. – noun. See: Independent Rock N’ Roll, Totally Awesome, Pavement.
3. Initially ‘Sephardic’ referred to a Jewish person that could trace their lineage back to the Iberian Peninsula, which includes modern day Spain, Portugal, Andorra and Gibraltar.
4. Specifically Prospect Heights.
5. A deeply respected thinker, Deleon is responsible for redacting the Zohar; this text is the central volume in the study of Kabalah and has most recently been bastardized by Madonna. Do Not See: Hard Candy
6. Talking Heads, Café Tacuba, Deerhoof, Animal Collective.
7. –noun. See: Huge Free Outdoor Party, Michael Showalter, Golem, Soulico, Sway Machinery.
8. –noun. See: Huge Free Outdoor Party, Michael Showalter, Golem, Soulico, Sway Machinery.
9. Rare, nearly extinct romance language derived from Old Castilian, Hebrew, Turkish and some French and Greek. Today, the majority of remaining Ladino speakers are in Deleon. It’s like a dead language, man.