Black Ox Orkestar began in the summer of 2000, the project of four Montreal musicians exploring their common Jewish heritage for sounds that could speak to them today. Listening to pre-war recordings of Jewish and non-Jewish music from Eastern Europe and the Balkans, they wanted to capture the rawness and emotional intensity they heard there. They also threw their own musical histories into the mix, their years of playing out-jazz, punk rock, or weird folk, creating not so much a fusion of old and new as a way to tear the old sounds from the past and make them resonate in the present. The band tried to be true to the strangeness and beauty of these archaic songs, translating them into new forms, and writing new material that continued an imaginary tradition still humming in their ears. They played their final show in 2005.
Thierry Amar (contrabass) is a member of Silver Mt. Zion and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. He has contributed to countless recordings and live musical projects in Montreal, figures prominently in the jazz and improv scene here, and co-founded the Hotel2Tango recording studio, where he works as a recording engineer.
Scott Levine Gilmore (vocals, cymbalom, guitar, mandolin, saz, violin & percussion) studied Yiddish Literature at McGill University in Montreal. He played for a brief period in Silver Mt. Zion (circa Horses In The Sky) and was a founding member of Le Petit Theatre de l’Absolu, a puppet theatre that toured a children’s show through Israel and the occupied West Bank in the fall of 2003. Scott is currently studying law in Washington DC.
Gabriel Levine (clarinet, guitar) played in Sackville, has worked in Vermont for the Bread and Puppet Theatre, and was a co-founder of Le Petit Theatre de l’Absolu. He is currently finishing a post-graduate degree in Social and Political Thought at Toronto’s York University.
Jessica Moss (violin) has been playing her instrument since she was five. Breaking with her classical training early on to seek out more exciting and innovative ensembles and genres, she has been a part of many bands and collaborations in Montreal, and has been a guest player on numerous records in Montreal and Toronto. She plays in Silver Mt. Zion, creates illuminated boxes, and makes soundtracks for film.