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You Carry My Hope: Judeo​-​Spanish Songs in Los Angeles, Sept. 1942 - Feb. 1943

by Jack Mayesh



Joel Bresler has done all of the research on the Sephardic singer and composer Jack Mayesh (b. July 7, 1899; d. Feb. 11, 1969) who recorded nine self-released discs in Los Angeles from November 1941 to June 1944 and an additional six sides for Adjin Aslan's Me-Re / Balkan label while on a visit to New York City the Summer of 1948, all of which are scarce. The notes that follow are derived largely from Bresler's work including his correspondence with Mayesh's son.

Mayesh was born in Kuşadası on the Mediterranean coast of Turkey, about 60 miles (100 km) south of Izmir / Smyrna. He immigrated to New York City where he married Flora Salmoni (b. on Rhodes) in 1924 or '25. They moved to Los Angeles in 1929 where Mayesh established a flower wholesale business that still bears his name.

He was a cantor for several Sephardic congregations and translated Turkish and Greek songs into the Spanish dialect of his community as well as composing original songs.

His early '40s recordings were self-produced at Electro-Vox studios, the first independent studio in L.A. and among the first in the world. At the time it had been running for a decade with working relationships with the National Broadcasting Company and Paramount Pictures. Mayesh released his recordings on his own label. They were subsequently issued again a few years later in 1947 on Electro-Vox's label in small editions. His accompanists were the Armenian oudist Koorken Bozajian (b. Arapgir, Turkey 1889) who was a member of the Hollywood Oriental Orchestra and kanunist Gabriel Yohai (b. Gallipoli, Turkey 1881).

As a result of his public performances and recordings, Mayesh was well-known in the Los Angeles Sephardic community of whom there were perhaps a few thousand. The language they spoke, sometimes called Ladino or Djudio, has become endangered and increasingly the realm of scholars. In 2018 the publication Ethnologue: Languages of the World publication estimated that there were 51,000 native speakers of Judeo-Spanish worldwide. In the U.S. about a half-dozen performers recorded in the language before 1960. Jack Mayesh, Victoria Hazan, Louis Matalon, and Isaac Angel were the most prolific. Their discs in the language are nowadays practically hen's teeth.


released August 3, 2023

Transfers and restorations by Ian Nagoski

All lyrics composed by Jack Mayesh.
Transcriptions of them can be found at: www.sephardicmusic.org/labels/Mayesh/Mayesh.htm

Koorken Bozajian, oud: tracks 1-2
Gabriel Yohai, kanun: tracks 3-6
untraced, percussion: tracks 3-4

Recording dates:
Sept. 8, 1942: tracks 1-2
Oct. 11, 1942: tracks 3-4
Feb. 6, 1943: tracks 5-6

Cover image courtesy of the Mayesh family, via sephardicmusic.org

Thanks: Joel Bresler & Harout Arakelian
Further information:

A few more of Mayesh's recordings are available on YouTube:


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early 20th century masterpieces (mostly) in languages other than English.

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