Good listening from KlezKanada
Every year I end up leaving KlezKanada with a bit more music than I arrived with. This means that the trip home in the car is especially fun. This year, there were few new CDs, but what was there represented, I think, the diversity and depth of this "Naye Dor" (new generation) that was on display at the great concert at camp.
The hit of the pack is clearly this new CD by violinist Jake Shulman-Ment. Called אַ רעדעלע / A Wheel, his violin work is superb as he plays fairly traditional klezmer, with a few Yiddish vocals, all with a very pre-America European feel that is nicely complemented with tsimbl work by both NY's Pete Rushefsky and Cleveland's Alex Fedoriouk. Will this setting of Linestski's poem replace the Jerry Garcia song of similar name? Perhaps! In songs, as with life, the wheel keeps turning. This album? I'll be listening to it for a while. Pick up your copy at cdbaby.com.
Shulman-Ment is involved in several bands. It is rare to see a klezmer- or Yiddish-related concert of interest in NYC that doesn't feature him, these days. One of his many side projects is a "transylvanian" folk band called "Metrofolk." Not knowing what I had in hand, I happened to swap it out in the car's CD player with an early Muzsik´s CD. For a few seconds I wondered if I had mistakenly left the first CD in place. Billed as "Traditional Gypsy, Hungarian, Romanian, and Jewish folk music and songs from Transylvania, freshly interpreted on the streets and subways of New York City," this first release, "Renegades of Folk" is a delight. Vocalist Kata Harsaczki is a lovely find. Shulman-Ment fiddles like a soul on fire. Pete Rushefsky makes a cameo on tsimbl, er, cimbalom. The repertoire includes some specificly Jewish songs from the region along with a host of other songs and tunes. The literal translation from Hungarian, "I smoked and burned my mouth" and "My heart aches inside and out" add piquancy. This is a fun album, and also available from CDbaby.com
And now for something completely different. Fans of New Orleans' Panorama Jazz Band have long been aware of Patrick Farrell's accordion playing. A recent transplant (except for during mardi gras season) to NYC, he is also a stalwart of the ever-amazing Frank London's Klezmer AllStars and Michael Winograd's klezmer ensembles. Now he has his New Orleans-style brass band, Stagger Back Brass Band and it rocks. This is the band you want to invite to your street party—to any party. It's a romp through world music as interpreted by New Orleans-style brass and it is as good as it sounds. Better. You can check out samples and pick up your own copy (and support the KlezmerShack by using this link) from the usual cdbaby.com.
One of the elemental recordings of the Klezmer Revival was this 1978 recording by Dave Tarras, modestly titled, "Music for the Traditional Jewish Wedding," and originally released as a cassette from New York's Balkan Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Music and Song headed up by the ubiquitous Pete Rushefsky). The recording was rereleased last year? on CD, and I now have a copy that I can easily listen to on my computer. It's not that I have forgotten how good Dave Tarras is, it's that I hadn't thought about this recording for a while and was surprised how often I found myself preferring familiar songs his way. We have created new "classics," but Dave Tarras was the Master of the Jewish Clarinet. It's worth the reminder. Get your copy from the CTMD and help support Pete! Your ears, your feet, and all but jealous clarinetists within range will thank you.
One of the pleasures of KlezKanada was sitting across the table from Toronto's Yiddish scholar, Anna Sternshis, and her kids (did we talk about the explosion of babies at KlezKanada?) and discovered that she is married to Dan Rosenberg who is responsible for several of my favorite "Rough Guide" compilation CDs. (He is also responsible for the excellent Rounder set, "The Hidden Gate: Jewish Music From Around The World"). His guide to Israeli music was reviewed on the KlezmerShack a few years ago. I thought he juggled an impossible task and caught an incredible slice of what has been interesting and innovative in that country's music. I felt that his guide to the Klezmer Revival missed some critical bands (nothing from Australia's Klezmania and, I think nothing from Canada—not even the Flying Bulgars from his own town. There were also a few cuts I would probably not have put on my own compilation. On the other hand, had I realized that there was another volume coming, the "Rough Guide to Klezmer Revolution" I might have been more excited, because this CD does capture much of the breadth of what is new and exciting in klezmer-based new Jewish music. From the Klezmatics singing "I Ain't Afraid" to South America's Moguilsevsky & Lerner—and yes, the Flying Bulgars are here, along with SoCalled and Mikveh, Margot Leverett, and Shtreiml, and David Krakauer, and Wolf Krakowski, and Oi Va Voi, and lots more from around the world. In short, pretty much everyone I was pissed at him for leaving off the first CD! This is the best sampler of what's new in the Klezmer world since last year's KlezKanada compilation. As was the case with the Israeli music CD, it isn't that I can't think of incredible artists or bands who aren't represented, but that the geographic and music span of the diversity is so well represented. If you can't have everything, this is a good starting point. Hey, it's got Dan Kahn on the cover. It's got to be good. Pick up your copy today.
I mention one last recording, from 2003, because it kept coming up in conversation. Klezmania's Freydi Mrocki was at KlezKanada this year and kept kvelling about the soundtrack to this remarkable book by someone "down under" named Arnold Zable. It's called "The Fig Tree" and features music by Klezmania, Klezmeritis, and several Greek bands from the same neighborhood. It is such a delight that it is already part of my car-driving music repertoire. If you can figure out how to get a copy from down under, you'll thank me for it. I just have to get a copy of that darn book and see what the real fuss is about.