BY BARRY DAVIS
YISRAEL Borochov has been at the forefront of musical cross-breeding for years now.
The 60-something multi-instrumentalist was a founding member of the groundbreaking Habreira Hativit troupe, which started life in the 1970s.
After performing with the group for several years and playing on the first two albums, Borochov founded the East-West Ensemble, releasing five albums, appearing all over the world and winning a string of awards.
He also produced a couple of talented musician sons - double bassist Avri and New York-based jazz trumpeter Itamar.
Borochov, who lives in Jaffa, has joined forces with his sons on stage a number of times.
They are currently performing with Franco-Israeli pop singer Riff Cohen at Jerusalem's Piyut Festival.
The current show, 'Fantasy for Bukharian Sacred Music', draws on Borochov's familial cultural heritage.
Borochov refutes the idea of his "rediscovering" his cultural origins.
"I haven't really got any roots to return to," he said. "My mother came to Israel at the age of two, and my father made aliya when he was eight, from the vicinity of Bukhara.
"I had one grandmother who was Bukharian. So I didn't grow up listening to music at home or on the radio, like the musicians with roots in Arab countries who heard Arabic music on the radio."
He added: "There are all those artists whose parents made aliya from Arab countries who, one bright day, did a musical U-turn."
Borochov's Bukharian quest began from a different area of the arts.
"Back in the 1950s and 60s, when I was living in Tiberias, if there was a good film at the cinema it was generally an Indian movie," he said.
"Bukhara is influenced by India, China, Persia and Turkey.
"The food, the style of dress and the music of Bukhara were strongly impacted on by India. There are similar words in both languages, too."
Ultimately, Borochov was given a high-octane push in his current musical direction by one of the leading outfits in the cultural sector.
"I played with the Alaev family [from Bukhara] for a few years and, when they spoke Bukharian between them, I recalled my grandmother," he said.
"Maybe it's genetic or maybe it's because of things I heard. I don't know exactly."
As Borochov continued exploring his musical roots, he began to encounter enticing sonic gems.
"I was in England once and someone gave me a record of Bukharian music. I thought of recording the music myself, but nothing came of it.
"Around 30 years ago, someone gave me some Bukharian music that really grabbed me, even though it sounded Chinese.
"From a melodic standpoint, the final tone of the music is totally unexpected; you don't understand why it's there."
Borochov was not sure what he was going to do when he got the call from Piyut Festival artistic director Yair Harel, who gave the Borochovs carte blanche.
"I told him I am not a bona fide Bukharian music expert," he said.
"Yair said we should do whatever we wanted, and that we should take Bukharian music as a point of reference."
Borochov Sr. says the works in the project offer something for all kinds of music consumers.
He revealed: "I included a Bukharian number in the Mizmorim Nistarim (Mysterious Songs) project, and people came up to me after the show and said 'what a wonderful Yemenite song that was'.
"I don't mind that, and if the music we perform appeals to different people in different ways, that's perfectly okay."
He is married to Karin Kloosterman, an environment news writer. His ex-wife, Daniella Michaeli, is a theatre actor and choreographer in Israel.