In the Moment
Moshe (Mark) Weidenfeld was born on a cold, Thanksgiving morning, November 26, 1964 in Amityville, Long Island. Raised in the nearby hamlet of Massapequa along with such other notable American 'showbiz kids' as musicians Neil Diamond, the Stray Cats (a.k.a. Brian Setzer, Lee Rocker and Slim Jim Phantom), the Cars' lead guitarist, Elliot Easton, comedian Jerry Seinfeld and actors such as the Baldwin Brothers (as in Alec and William.) Growing up in a musical family blended well with life in Massapequa as a lot of young people were into music and formed 'garage bands'. At home, on any given evening one could hear the sounds of Moshe's mother a.k.a. Lady Barbara playing one of her post-modern piano compositions, singing a spontaneous version of a song from her diverse repertoire or joining 'papa' Jerome in an Italian folk song on guitar he was strumming when he was not stompin' out a popular tune on the harmonica or plucking a Russian melody on the mandolin. There were also occasional sightings/soundings from Moshe's oldest brother Robert when he wasn't traveling the world or hitch-hiking across the U.S. Until he was about 10 years old, Moshe actually believed that brother 'Robbie' was Bob Dylan due to certain similarities in dress, facial hair, ethnicity, raspy-singing style, four-chord guitar playing capacity, repertoire and oh yeah...his name is also Robert. It was his early collaborations/rivalry with his older brother David (guitarist/songwriter see 'Sneaking Into My Dreams' also on CDBaby.com) however, that strengthened his ensemble, improvisational and compositional skills. The Weidenfeld family (sans Robert who was living in Israel) moved to Amherst, Massachusetts when Moshe was eleven where he would attend the public schools and later graduate form the University of Massachusetts with a B.A. in Education and a earn a teaching certificate. While growing up in Amherst, Moshe had the opportunity to learn and in many cases perform with such great musicians and educators such as Roland Wiggins, Dr. Billy Taylor, Archie Shepp, Marion Brown, the late Max Roach, Charles Magee Greenlee and Ray Copeland. Moshe met his wife artist and educator Shanee Epstein when he was fifteen and she was a freshman at UMass. They were married six years later when he was twenty-one and they lived in Northampton, Massachusetts. A year later (to the day) their first son Rafael (a drummer even in-utero) was born. Moshe began his career as a classroom teacher in nearby town of Holyoke. It was here that Moshe began playing with local Puerto Rican Salsa musicians and began making connections between Sefardic Jewish musical traditions and so-called Latin music. Around this time, he recorded his first compilation (soon to be re-released) Moshe Weidenfeld and New Moments(©1986). A year later they left Northampton for the Flatbush section of Brooklyn, New York so that Shanee could pursue an MFA (Masters in Fine Art) at Pratt Institute. It was then and there that Moshe's two 'passions' of music and teaching officially intersected when he became the Choral Music teacher/director at MS51 in Park Slope. In 1992 Moshe, Shanee and 'Rafi' moved to Park Slope where the youngest member of the 'Epstein/Weidenfeld' quartet was born; Ezra Shlomo (now a budding violinist and visual artist). Since then, Moshe has gone on to teach general music and direct the Jazz ensemble at the Berkeley Carroll School; an independent school in Park Slope. His BC House Band competed and was awarded 'Honorable Mention' in the 'National High School Jazz Competition' at Berklee College of Music in Boston. Returning to the NYC public school system in the fall of 1999, Moshe set-up music programs at several NYC public schools including Two Bridges, the East New York Family Academy and Liberty High School for Newcomers where he is presently the music teacher and COSA (Coordinator of Student Activities). In May of 2000, Moshe earned a Masters of Arts in Music from Columbia University. He is in the process of developing several performing ensembles with the students he works with at Liberty High School who are immigrants from 50 or more different countries. Two of these ensembles are RWB (Recorders Without Borders) and Voices of Liberty. Moshe is one of the contributors to the New York City Department of Education 'Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Music' which will be unveiled in early June of 2008. Over the course of his 40+ years, Moshe has performed live with such diverse artists as Pete Seeger, Archie Shepp, the late Tito Puente and bluegrass/klezmer superstar, Andy Statman. Moshe Weidenfeld's recent CD release, In The Moment May (©2008 Arava Music) is a collection of original compositions which incorporate elements of his Latin Jewish Jazz fusion into a more traditional straight ahead Jazz format. This CD represents, Moshe's first recording under his own name in more than 20 years and his re-emergence onto the performing scene. The rhythm section is completed with Yaaki Levy (drums) and Mike Savino (bass) with guest appearances by ex-patriot Josh Levitt of Paris France (ney flute) and Elie Massias (guitar). For a more detailed account of the life, music and educational philosophy of Moshe Weidenfeld, stay tuned for the upcoming autobiographical resource for new teachers entitled, 'Mr. Moshe's Mambo'.