" /> the KlezmerShack: February 2014 Archives

« January 2014 | Main | March 2014 »

February 28, 2014

Help fund new Jewish cabaret program by Olga Mieleszczuk

Having given you the means to hear her music (and musicianship), I now pass on this note from Ellie Shapiro, Director of Berkeley, CA's Jewish Music Festival. Shapiro is currently on a Fulbright Fellowship in Poland.

Dear All:

Did you know that like Tin Pan Alley, Jewish musicians, lyricists, composers, presenters, radio and record producers were predominant in the Polish popular music industry between the wars? Jazz, cabaret, tango, film and theater in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish … modern culture exploded in Polish large cities in the two decades of independence from 1919–1939. We're all familiar with the scene in Berlin from Cabaret … but Warsaw had its own rich, vibrant world. Most of the brilliant talents who created it did not survive the Holocaust.

The Polish-Israeli singer Olga Mieleszczuk has created a program with some of the most famous songs from this era. Titled Li-La-Lo, she has researched how some of the stars of the Polish stage also then created the cabaret scene in Tel-Aviv.

Bay Area JMF audiences will remember Olga from the opening concert of the 28th Jewish Music Festival with Polesye. She has now launched a funding campaign to support turning the Li-La-Lo project into a CD. This is music that deserves a wide hearing. I hope you will consider helping to bring it to a global audience. Please click on this link below to learn how you can!

CD of the day: Olga Mieleszczuk / Jewish Folksongs from the Shtetl

cd coverThere have been a spate of recent CDs uncovering new (or in this case, sometimes new) repertoire. In this case, Folk singer/researcher Olga Mielszczuk has followed up on field recordings by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett made in the Polesye region of what is now Belarus, back in 1968–1975, from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg. Polesye was the ancient cradle of the Slavic peoples and a center of Hasidism. Nirenberg, a pre-War Jewish folksinger, was born in this multicultural region. What I find most compelling is the mix of older songs with 20th century repertoire—many were learned from the gramophone or other media in the early part of the century and reflected then-popular music. What is exciting is to hear them in the context of old and new from a specific region, and to hear them in modern settings, sung by a lovely voice backed by stellar musicians from Poland, Israel, and the US. I received this 2012 recording months ago and continue to enjoy listening to it. It has also become a great CD for long car trips. You can get your copy of Olga Mieleszczuk / Jewish folksongs from the Shtetl from the artist's website. Enjoy!

While I am lauding Mieleszczuk's work, I should also note ask you to read the next post (which, blog-style, you probably read first), sent today by Ellie Shapiro, head of Berkeley's Jewish Music Festival.

Help fund new Klezmatics CD

It's about time. There hasn't been new Klezmatics in far too long. You can help make that happen:

Klezmatics new CD project

February 24, 2014

Figaro, oyf Yidish

From Sid Mintz on the Jewish Music mailing list:

Rossini's Figaro oyf yidish : Shvigaro. Mit a orkeste

February 21, 2014

Carolina Slim, z"l, mentor to The Sway Machinery's Jeremiah Lockwood

An article about Carolina Slim, who played blues in the NY subway for decades, and mentored Jeremiah Lockwood during the '90s.

He Played Blues Concerts Where the Admission Price Was Subway Fare by James Barron, NY Times, Feb 20, 2014. The article also includes "'Elijah and Jeremiah' A short documentary on Elijah "Carolina Slim" Staley and Jeremiah Lockwood, musicians who played the blues on the subway together for years."

February 7, 2014

EP of the day: Ben Holmes & Patrick Farrell / EP

CD coverI picked this up at a recent concert by the Yiddish Art Trio here in Boston. Both musicians, Ben on trumpet; Patrick on accordion, are vital members of the post-revival younger generation. Patrick released a wonderful, wildly diverse full-length CD a few years ago, Stagger Back, and I see him most often with various bands that include Michael Winograd and Benjy Fox-Rosen. I first noticed Ben as part of the legendary Princeton band, the Klez Dispensers. He is making a growing name for himself as a jazz trumpeter.

This is just a short recording, but I have been listening to it over and over. It starts with some traditional klezmer, to which the musicians have added some incisive improvisation, moves through Scriabin and Chopin, and finally ends with a Brian Wilson tune. What I like best is that the two play seamlessly, and beautifully together. I also appreciate that the music is often thought-provoking, and that I hear not just pop or classical or klezmer, but parts of something new that pulls these, and other influences, tunefully, together.

in short, just the short of recording, short though it might be, that my ears are always on the lookout for. You can get your own copy on Farrell's website. It will make for excellent Shabbes listening, good throughout the week.

February 3, 2014

Bellydance Ballet features wonderful klezmer and more

IMG_0192.JPGI just wanted to take a few moments to acknowledge a wonderful performance Saturday night by the ever-inventive Klezwoods who performed their recent CD, The 30th Meridien to the accompaniment of a "Klezmer bellydance ballet". The music was superb, and I was pleased to see that I knew almost nobody in the audience (new fans!). It was a bit disconcerting to realize that this also meant that most of my friends who are klezmer fans were unable to step far enough out of their usual boxes to see what a "klezmer bellydance ballet" might look like. Oops.

In truth, the dance part of the show was not as polished as the music. The belly dance was good, but hard to see—and is perhaps not the best dance medium for a hall with an audience (as opposed to a cafe or restaurant—Karoun's, in Newton, for instance, which features excellent belly-dancing, albeit not to klezmer, every weekend). The other dance components seemed to be more energetic and well-meant than expressive.

Still, as I said, a good time was had by all, and towards the end, when the dancers jumped off stage and pulled members of the audience into dancing to the band, all was very good. The dance story will improve over time. This is definitely something to keep an eye out for and to bring friends to.

The show ended with a lovely piece featuring accordionist extraordinaire Michael McLaughlin, and soon-to-be Cantor, Becky Wexler on clarinet. Written by (or originally captured by) Reb Sruli Dresder, "January 7th, early in the morning" captures Meron tunes, klezmer, hope, and peace. It was a perfect way to end a high energy, wonderful evening.

Remembering Pete Seeger

Hard to know where to begin to address the void left by the departure of Pete Seeger. He not only helped remind America to keep singing, but had a wonderful feel for songs that mattered. One place is this lovely article from the Forward:

Pete Seeger's most Jewish songs

Tablet Magazine has two more pieces:

When Pete Seeger brought bluegrass and his banjo to 1964 Czechoslovakia by Ruth Ellen Gruber

and a short obituary, Folk music icon Pete Seeger dies at 94