Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages)

Growing up as a composer and also the son of a rabbi, Avi Wisnia has always had an ear for traditional Jewish melodies. Take that foundation and throw in some straight-ahead jazz, soulful swing, and a classic Hanukkah theme, and you have Maoz Tsur (Rock of Ages), a holiday jazz instrumental. Originally a liturgical poem, Maoz Tsur has become a popular Hanukkah song, typically sung after the lighting of the menorah, whose words rejoice in the ability to claim victory over oppressors and overcome persecution. “This song is different from anything I have recorded so far,” explains Wisnia. “But having grown up surrounded by Jewish music my entire life, I wanted to celebrate the holiday by taking this traditional song from my childhood with this simple melody and do something a little more complex with it.” Quite possibly the most modern take on this classic tune that also stays true to the original melody, this rendition is sure to be found in houses full of families sharing the joy of the holiday. Whether you are lighting the menorah, playing dreidel, or sitting down to a plate of latkes with your loved ones, Avi Wisnia’s Maoz Tsur encompasses everything that the holiday season is about. (2011)

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