Yehoram Gaon

Matti Caspi arranged and produced for Yehoram Gaon the album“Full Moon”(1989) where he also played various instruments and composed the songOn My Way to You".

In December 2002 Razzi Ben Ezer, who was technician assistant during the album’s recording at the time, told about his experience:

”In January 1989 they began the recordings for Yehoram Gaon’s album ‘Full Moon’ at the Sygma Studios in Tel Aviv. Even before the recordings started, the PRs of Hed Arzi worked extra hours and managed to squeeze in the ‘item’ into all the newspapers and media of that time. The only catch of the matter was: not just a new album by Yehoram Gaon after some silent years, but this time collaborated with and produced by Matti Caspi.

Yehoram Gaon and Matti Caspi! Apparently the ultimate match. The good old, lovable singer from Jerusalem of Israel, with a musical production by genius Matti Caspi who is called by the critics one of the best producers in Israel thanks to Riki Gal’s album from last year (“West from Here”, “Rock Girl”). The 1989 Matti Caspi was considered by the media a wizard with a golden touch, who is incapable of making any mistakes. What could be more successful than a collaboration between the one who represents old Israel, and the musician of musicians, who in order to play one of his songs one needs a calculator just to understand the chords?

Moreover, the songs for the album were written by the national league of Hebrew music: Naomi Shemer, Ehud Manor, Leah Goldberg, Moshe Vilensky, and Caspi himself. Apparently: a winning combination.

Apparently is the keyword here.

I worked as the technician’s assistant at the studio, and when I was told I was assigned to work during the production of ‘Full Moon’ I was thrilled, especially because I would get to see Matti Caspi in action.

Seven years earlier, Caspi gave me one of the most emotional concerts in my life. I was stationed in a base in Tzfat and was supposed to be sent to Lebanon the next day. I was sad and afraid. Matti arrived in the base, he was given a chair that was set on the grass in front of the dining hall. Matti pulled out the guitar and started playing. A chilling wind was blowing, it was dark, and maybe about twenty sodiers and female soldiers were brave enough to sit in the cold and listen to a show. Matti played and sang without a microphone and sound system, and we all approached him closely, sticking together as one human piece in order to keep warm. With only my nose sticking out of my coat, and a very nice girl hugging me, I listened wide eyed to the music that overcame the noise of the wind. Matti gave us an unforgettable show of about two hours, with frozen fingers, and without missing any note. I’ll never forget that. It’s no wonder that seven years later, I was so thrilled to be present at the studio during his production.

I came to the studio and immediately understood what I was in for. The amount of money invested in the production didn’t matter, including a full string orchestra (all violin, viola, and cello players from the Israeli philharmonic), trumpet players, trombones, saxophone (both soprano and tenor, legendary Albert Fiamenta). In total, twenty two (!) musicians were hired to play in the album, not including Caspi himself. Riki Gal sang backing vocals. Studio hours: hundreds, without calculating. The final result: A musical disaster, at least for my part.

Personally, I had a painful disillusionment about the philharmonic musicians. As someone who grew up with classical music at home, I walked among them with reverence, thrilled I get to adjust their microphones and print their copies of notepads. I listened to anything they said, expecting to gather pearls of wisdom about their musical theories, their interpretations of Brahms… how disappointed I was to hear them only talk about their salary per hour, and how the tea they’re served isn’t hot enough. I think I grew up several years that day.

Yehoram Gaon himself didn’t even bother to show up at the studio once during the recording sessions, and came only to sing.

And here I had another not less surprising disillusionment: Yehoram Gaon had some trouble singing. The singing sessions were long, tiring and sad. Gaon had to sing the same verses again and again in order to reach the right notes. As the hours passed he became less patient and more cranky. Everybody knew, even though they said nothing, that it’s just not working. When I think about the artists’ treatment of the technical team, I always remember someone like Uzzie Chitman who always cared about treating even the last of the technician assistants with respect and a smile. Yehoram Gaon is exactly the opposite example. The man who’s pictured in the media as the symbol of kindness and warmth, was discovered behind closed doors as frowny, condescending, cranky, who treats anyone who’s beneath him like a slave (‘Get me a falafel. Get me water’. No ‘Please’ whatsoever).

Matti Caspi tried overcoming the failing situation and kept his cool and sense of humor. When the technical team would argue about sound matters, in order to pass the time we had to wait for Gaon, he would make us laugh with remarks like: ‘I need to clip my nails to play the next song in the guitar. Does anyone have a Yamaha nail clipper?’ but all that didn’t help. All the recordings of the album were simply work in the eyes of the studio personnel. They came in the morning, set a timer, recorded a song, did some mixing, and went home. Any relations to creativity was to us technical or entirely coincidental. That was the production where I understood the true meaning of the words ‘The music industry’.

Who said there’s no justice in the world? ‘Full Moon’ was a total commercial and critical disaster. No one bought it, the radio didn’t play one song from it. Hed Arzi didn’t even bother to give a copy of the record to the studio team when it was released. As a technician’s assistant who worked hours for free, I never even got the satisfaction of seeing my name in the credits list on the album’s cover. Whoever wants, can search the internet, and besides a laconic mentioning on Caspi’s website (‘Matti worked with…’) this album can’t be found anywhere, as if it was never made. It’s not even mentioned in Yehoram Gaon’s discography. I think that at Hed Arzi they rather forget the album was ever produced.

Years later, when I came to Israel for a visit, I suddenly stumbled upon this album in the pile of ‘cheapers’ at The Third Ear (music store). As an obsessed collector of anything that bears my name on it, I wanted to buy it. But as I held it in my hands I noticed it was empty, the record itself was missing… I went to the salesman and tried to explain to him: ‘years ago I was the technician’s assistant in the recording of this album. I see the record itself is missing, would you be willing to sell me only the cover’? the salesman looked at me with pity, as if I was crazy (‘You want to buy an empty album cover of Yehoram Gaon’??) and gave me the cover for free. I look at this empty cover now, and think that a bigger symbolization than this couldn’t have been invented”.

Matti Caspi, Yehoram Gaon and Boaz Sharaby performing together the song - What will the Wind Bring with it

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