"Essen" sticks to my ribs
Suppose Mickey Katz were alive today. Not alive in tribute. Not alive as a mere incredible clarinet player, but suppose someone could play like Mickey Katz, someone who got how Mickey would sound today and made his music sound like today's hip R&B. Then suppose that this person could convey the craziness of Katz, even better, could channel the earlier craziness of Slim Gaillard, Cab Calloway, the Barton Brothers, even add to it….
It would take someone like, say, Paul Shapiro, him of the Midnight Minyan, yes it would. And here he is with his Ribs and Brisket Revue doing just that. Ahhh, life is good. This is a take on "Essen" that feels 2008 (which is pretty hip, considering that there isn't anything happening in the Catskills these days that involves Yiddish unless you're considering the Limud folks, and that is a very different hipness).
Here's the thing. This is a meta mashup of an album. As Shapiro says in the liner notes, there was a whole mash-up as folks like Gaillard and Calloway incorporated yiddishisms into their songs, just as Jews were getting into jazz. So, now the music getts mashed up again and makes you wanna get your brisket out and start dancing and singing and hollering and moving all around the room. Brian Mitchell is a monster on the piano. Listen to Cilla Owens krecht that Yiddish on Sophie Tucker's "Mama goes where papa goes" and kvell along with me. [Fair disclosure: My day job just released a movie about six groundbreaking women comedians, Making Trouble. It includes Sophie Tucker, of course. We're real proud of it. Make sure it comes to a festival near you.]. Shapiro is an absolute madman on sax and clarinet. Babi Floyd is another Barton Brother. Who knew? Such "Tzouris!" Booker King (bass) and Tony Lewis (drums) are the perfect rhythm section.
Shapiro will be bringing his Ribs and Brisket Revue to the National Yiddish Book Center on July 14th as part of its "Paper Bridge" festival. It's going to be a long commute from Boston, but this is one of the performances that I can't miss. In the meantime, consider this a fair preview and check out the CD from Tzadik.com
For more information, see this article in All About Jazz: Paul Shapiro Releases "Essen," a Tribute to 1940s Yiddish Jazz, by Melissa Daniels