There are new CDs arriving every week. I got an email this week from a friend who saw one band from Knoxville, TN. "I don't think you know what it's like to encounter good klezmer here in the hinterlands! The least you can do is mention the CD on your website." So, we'll get to "Dor L'Dor" in a few minutes. And, in keeping with that suggestion, today's post, long as it is, focuses primarily on Klezmer. Despite our name, that is a small fraction of the wide array of Jewish music that is sent for listening and review, so stay tuned for some variety in coming days and weeks.
In the meantime, for those of you who are curious, last week I got most of one of the simpler websites set up acceptably in Drupal! It's only been a decade or so. Expect to see some fun announcements soon. There is still some significant work I want to do before launching that website and starting to apply that knowledge to the KlezmerShack, but, thanks to the ever-useful Using Drupal, things are finally starting to fall into place.
The first CD I have to mention was released just today. The Breslov Bar Band is a joyous melee of klezmer, hasidish, funk, rock, ska, punk, and more. I loved the first CD, but this one just hits the spot. For many Happy Hours, Check out the CD website and extended liner notes, and then order the CD or MP3. I am likely to give this a more extensive review as time permits.
Another arrival this week is from a Polish band, "Di Galitzyaner Klezmorim." This release follows in the wake of several other recent Polish bands such as Kroke and the Bester Quartet in that the music is klezmer-influenced jazzy world music. In this, to some extent, they are also children of the later works by Brave Old World. At a first listen, the musicians are excellent, as well. There are extensive liner notes. Check it out at tylkomuzyka.pl
This is the band that got me started on this post. Dor L'Dor is based in Knoxville, TN, which is also home to a dear friend. Said friend was at a concert by the band and was blown away. "Why," he lamented, "was such an excellent band not mentioned on the KlezmerShack?" אשמתי. Mea culpa. The band is a delightfully brassy concoction. Their most recent CD is a few years old, but remains a nicely jazz-inflected collection of Jewish standards, most definitely living up to its title, "Not Your Father's Klezmer Band." Their earlier release, "Dance for your Life" is more straightforward modern Jewish wedding music. Both include klezmer, Israeli standards, old favorites, familiar and less
so (one number works in "Putting on the Ritz"), often arranged in the sorts of medleys you would expect (and enjoy) at your next simkha or rounding out a good Jewish dance mix tape. Available, of course, on cdbaby.com as well as common mp3 platforms
You'd think it would be easier to get a mention on the KlezmerShack if you live nearby and run into Mr. KlezmerShack at gigs. Hah! You get the same look of despair and "how can I keep up" that everyone else gets—just to your face, instead of via email. Having said that, Dick Schoeller, of Shpilkes Klezmer Band (note proper Yiddish transliteration of the band name) put his band's newest release, "Can't Sit Still," (2012) into my hands at the most recent Boston Jewish Music Festival. Featuring excellent instrumentals, as well as vocals by Barbara Green, Arnie Harris, and Dick, himself. This CD features mostly klezmer, with one Ladino and one Hebrew song.
And speaking of local bands that I love and don't mention often enough, it is over half a year since the KlezWoods released their second CD, "The 30th Meridian: From Cairo to St. Petersburg with love." You can get your copy either on a physical CD or from iTunes. KlezWoods have long been my favorite klezmer bar band, and this CD begins to capture them at their best, playing all manner of Jewish simkha tunes and their own originals ("Somerville Sirba," anyone? Perhaps on "January 7th Early in the morning"). If you have the pleasure of catching them live, this will help you remember the good times. If you haven't yet had that pleasure, this is close enough—get your copy soonest.
Based up in the northwest corner of the United States, Bellingham, Washington, Millie and the Mentshn offer a surprisingly classical Jewish sound. At times, with Millie's trained voice, the band sounds more like a "chamber simkhe" band than their more common and more raucous counterparts elsewhere. Bandleader Millie Johnson is out to entertain, but also to tell the story of her family's immigration experience, as well as stories of most of us whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe a century ago. In "Another DiMentshn" (2008), the band opens with a song written by a Brazilian Jewish immigrant a century ago ("Tico Tico""), gives the Israeli pioneer song more often known as "Arava, Arava" a cowboy beat, and otherwise ranges wide from klezmer to Ladino to Yiddish. In a second CD from the same year, "Mentshn It" (2008) the band performs a wide array of klezmer and yiddish folk/theatre tunes, but also recounts the experience in di goldene medine with "Brother can you spare a dime.". Sound samples, and more available on the band's website.
I close for today with a mention of a dear recent recording by Klezmerfest accordion maestro Zevy Zions. You can hear Zevy and the rest of the gang this fall at Greg Wall's birthday bash at the NY Klezmer Series. In the meantime, on this disk (his fourth) he takes us on another solo tour of the world via accordion. Despite the presumed limitation of using his solo accordion only, this is a very sweet and varied CD. But, you can get your copy of Bolero Fantasia from CDBaby.com and other find klezmer vendors. Check out the sound samples on cdbaby.com and try it yourself, or reach the review at the esteemed Blog in Dm.