New Yossi Banai Album Comes Six Years After His Death

First single of unpublished material to be released on Wednesday. 'As if his band waited for him on stage and he never came'.

Uri Zer Aviv
Send in e-mailSend in e-mail
Uri Zer Aviv

Nearly six years after his death at the age of 73, the multitalented performer Yossi Banai remains an icon of Israeli culture. Next month will see the release of the album the writer, actor, singer and dramatist was working on when he died, in May 2006.

The album, "Old Songs," consists of Banai's words, set to music composed and performed by some of Israel's best-known musicians. The first single, performed by Berry Sakharof, will reach radio stations on Wednesday.

Yossi Banai accepting an award in 2005.Credit: Daniel Tchetchik

Banai's collaborators on the album included a son, Yuval Banai, and a nephew, Ehud Banai. "Old Songs" was completed after Banai's family, including his widow, Aviva, gave their blessing to the Helicon recording company.

"Yossi's presence is felt in the album," Aviva told Haaretz, adding "I hope he would have liked the result."

Musicians who contributed to the album, with compositions or performances, included Arkadi Duchin, Maor Cohen, Micha Shitrit, Idan Raichel, Peter Roth, Corinne Alal and Shlomi Shaban. Rea Mochiach, the album's musical producer, said "with his lyrics Banai single-handedly created a new Israeli, drawing on French, Italian and American culture." Mochiach said he tried to create an album that Yossi Banai fans would want to hear, while allowing the artists musical freedom.

"It would be similar to a situation where his band is waiting for him onstage, but he doesn't show up," Mochiach said, "so other singers get onstage to sing his songs. Shlomi Shaban composed and perfomed a Banai lyric called "In the Next Reincarnation".

"We started working on it together," Shaban told Haaretz, "it's a song about all the things Banai didn't succeed in doing this time around. My original composition was very dramatic, but Yossi said, 'you didn't understand the deceased's intention. You have to give it a lightweight melody, so that the audience can swallow the difficult lyrics," that's the French way of doing it." Meanwhile, Israel's Channel 8 documentary channel and the Yehoshua Rabinovitz fund have begun preparations for the production of a film about Yossi Banai's life and his last months, due to be ready by February 2013. The film will portray Banai, as he appeared to the artists who barely knew him in his prime but spent the last months of his life with him.

During his lifetime Banai received the Israel Prize in theater, in part for his collaboration with playwright Nissim Aloni and the successful comic trio, Hagashash Hahiver, which included his brother Gavri. Banai recorded an album of George Brassens songs in Hebrew, and several Jacque Brel songs. His last album, "Slowly," was released in 2001.



Automatic approval of subscriber comments.
From $1 for the first month

Already signed up? LOG IN


Charles Lindbergh addressing an America First Committee rally on October 3, 1941.

Ken Burns’ Brilliant ‘The U.S. and the Holocaust’ Has Only One Problem

The projected rise in sea level on a beach in Haifa over the next 30 years.

Facing Rapid Rise in Sea Levels, Israel Could Lose Large Parts of Its Coastline by 2050

Tal Dilian.

As Israel Reins in Its Cyberarms Industry, an Ex-intel Officer Is Building a New Empire

Queen Elizabeth II, King Charles III and a British synagogue.

How the Queen’s Death Changes British Jewry’s Most Distinctive Prayer

Newly appointed Israeli ambassador to Chile, Gil Artzyeli, poses for a group picture alongside Rabbi Yonatan Szewkis, Chilean deputy Helia Molina and Gerardo Gorodischer, during a religious ceremony in a synagogue in Vina del Mar, Chile last week.

Chile Community Leaders 'Horrified' by Treatment of Israeli Envoy

Queen Elizabeth attends a ceremony at Windsor Castle, in June 2021.

Over 120 Countries, but Never Israel: Queen Elizabeth II's Unofficial Boycott