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November 3, 2014

Rory Michelle's next kickstarter: "The God Album"

From Rory Michelle:

Hi Jewish music mailing list!

I'm excited to share that I'm recording an album of songs inspired by Jewish texts and Pete Seeger. These 8 songs were written during my time at Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies this spring in Jerusalem.

They range from a fun, playful ballad about Rabban Gamliel to a singable interpretive version of Birkat Hamazon, that many have loved and claimed as a great Jewish camp song - and more. Please check out my Kickstarter Page here. (spelled out: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rorymichelle/rory-michelles-3rd-studio-album-the-god-album)

I'd be very grateful if you would take a look, consider funding, and share it with your networks.

Many, many thanks!
Rory Michelle, singer-songwriter

September 28, 2014

New releases for the Days of Awe

I want to take time out for a few minutes to note the current season and mention a few recent releases that may help get you in the mood for t'shuvah.

CD coverI'll first mention a new instrumental release by Tzadik saxophonist Paul Shapiro / Shofarot Verses. His 2003 "Midnight Minyan" put the daven into jazz. Here he continues that tradition, with some of my favorite Tzadik musicians, including Captain Beefheart alum Marc Ribot on guitar, Brad Jones on bass, and Tony Lewis on drums. From the opening moments of the very season-appropriate "Hashivenu" through the closing "With Reed and Skins" Shapiro manages to combine jazz and a sense of nusach (Ashkenazic Jewish cantorial modes) in ways that seek out that still small voice within us. At the same time, as on "Daven Dance," he reminds us that joy can physically move us. The shofar-like soprano sax impulsion on "Halil," with Ribot's answering guitar is one standout, followed by an actual shofar on "Ashamnu," which takes the familiar Yom Kippur melody to a new place of grace. The album's ethos is perhaps best expressed in the description of "Search your soul," "Finding solace in the house of b-flat." More info at Paul's website. The music is available from Tzadik and the usual disk and MP3 vendors online.

CD coverComing from another place, entirely, (and perhaps exemplifying the difference between the gritty downtown New York scene vs. the spiritual secularism of California's Bay Area) singer/cantor Linda Hirschhorn's voice and words speak directly to those parts of us that aspire to heal and to help a world in need of healing. Her 2013 recording, "Amazed" is also an album with beautiful personal love songs. With an all-star cast, including Holly Near on the backing vocals of the opening hymn, "Amazed," this is just a wonderful album, balm for a "verbissener velt." Tunes range from the folkie to the blues, as on "Some Love," to the hum along inspirational and aspirational, as "Give it all you have." You can listen to samples and purchase the CD from Linda Hirschhorn's website and the usual online vendors.

cd coverSiach Hasadeh is a Montreal-based duo, clarinet and bass, exploring Jewish niggun. Since they also appeared at Ashkenaz 2014, I can also link this set of reviews to my continuing coverage of the standout artists at that festival. Although the music is sweet, the duo explores the rougher sides of harmony as well. There is a delightful tone poem/art song/modern classical dissonance that weaves in and out of these tunes, from the opening "R' Levi Yitzchak Berditchever's Niggun" to "Niggun firn di tsaddikim in gay eyden" or "Rabbeinu's Niggun" featuring Shtreiml masters Jason Rosenblatt on harmonica and Ismail Fencio─člu on oud. For those who enjoy digging deeper and letter ways of niggun wash over them, this is a rich recording. You can read more about the recording on the band's website or purchase it directly from CDBaby.com.

cd coverThe standout voice, the woman everyone wanted to hear at this year's Ashkenaz Festival was Polina Shepherd. Readers of these pages over the years will not be surprised—you have read reviews of her singing with choirs, with brass bands, with just her husband, Merlin Shepherd, and friends. She plays an amazing piano, but it is her voice that you notice. Amazing range. Beauty, and a force of nature. Born in the former Soviet Union, this recording is a tribute to both her Russian and Yiddish roots. She sings of love and longing, universal yearnings, whether, say, in the Russian "Silver Birch" or the more modern Yiddish of "Birch Tree;" from folk melodies, to Eastern European "scat," here a wordless prayer in "Ay Yay Yay;" whether the text comes from the Song of Songs, "Place me like a seal," her own poetry (most of these pieces), or evokes life, itself, in the Yom Kippur plea, "Avinu Malkeinu" (Our Father, Our King). Shepherd's voice is transformative. More information, and CD purchases from the artist's website.

cd coverThere has been an evolution as Basya Schechter has gone from writing Middle Eastern-inflected folksongs, to someone more involved with rethinking religious poetry. He most recent CD was a recording of her settings of love poems, both to women, and to God (and sometimes, like "Song of Songs," as easily to read as expressing love for both) written in Yiddish by Rabbi A. J. Heschel. This latest recording by Pharaoh's Daughter consists entirely of settings of traditional prayer and piyyut. The music, though, comes from around the world. The opening "Adon Olam" conveys echoes of electronica. The familiar "Maoz Tzur" is rethought with celesta-like keyboard pinpoints, as though to highlight falling snow; in the simplicity of the melody you can hear echoes of a family lighting Hanukkah candles. Likewise, "Ha-nerot Halaluh" contains elements of electronica and metallic percussion and a lively sing-along melody. The title song, for instance, "Dumiya," echoes all of the above, with hints of African rhythm and Middle Eastern flow. The closing "Shebishlifleynu" has a driving, somewhat psychedelic beat. The current season is evoked with light glissando's of sound setting "Zikaron," a poem conveying the awe of standing in front of G-d on Yom Kippur, with a quieter new melody for "P'tach lanu sha'ar" (open a gate for us). If the music of Shlomo Carlebach and Debbie Friedman simplified melodies and invited congregational participation in davenning in new ways, the music of Basya Schechter and Pharaoh's Daughter fuses Sephardic, Ashkenazic, and indeed, world music traditions for a new generation of prayers. It is good to hear such eloquent settings for songs of renewal in this season of awe. Liner notes and more info available on the Pharaoh's Daughter website. You can purchase a copy from Amazon.com.

September 5, 2011

Welcome to Elul - Free High Holiday music downloads

From Craig Taubman. This download is available for free only in the United States:

We put together a free High Holy Day Music sampler for Amazon. Until Rosh Hashana (Tishrei 1), in honor of Jewels of Elul (www.jewelsofelul.com) you can download all of the songs for free (Alas, Amazon.com limits this to US visitors only). There is an amazingly eclectic mix of music from Josh Nelson, David Broza, Basya Schecter, Alberto Mizrahi and a handful of other artists.

Cantor Sam Weiss, has once again put up a recording of us own:

This one's totally free, all over the world, and available till after Hoshanah Rabbah!

A song for the High Holy Days season based on the Yiddish-Hebrew song "A Mayseh" attributed to the son of Reb Levi-Yitzchak of Berditchev. Complete description, translation and transliteration with the download:

wikisend.com/download/231518

February 24, 2008

Veretski Pass / Trafik and 3 other reviews by Keith Wolzinger

cd coverJust in time for the official release of the new, highly-anticipated Veretski Pass CD, Trafik, I have posted Keith Wolzinger's review of same. Keith also did a podcast of the band, recorded last summer.

Other new-to-the-KlezmerShack reviews by Wolzinger include:

Enjoy!

February 11, 2008

New reviews by Keith Wolzinger

CD coverI have been slowly gathering in reviews written by Keith Wolzinger over the last few months. There are many more to come, but in the meantime, check out his wide-ranging examination of the post-klezmer sounds of The Lithuanian Empire, country-Jewish Mare Winningham / Refugee Rock Sublime, Yiddish folk and theatre songs from Hy Wolfe / Yiddish Songs for the Soul, world Jewish music by Montrealer Hélène Engel Trio / Voyage, and new Jewish sounds of another Montrealer, Shelley Posen / Menorah.

February 10, 2008

George Robinson reviews: Polina Shepherd, Metropolitan Klezmer, Blue Fringe, Romashka video, and more

CD coverAlong with Elliott Simon, George Robinson is the one other reviewer of new Jewish music who continues to publish about a wonderful gamut from the avant garde to klezmer to music from the newer Orthodox-based jam band sounds. Catching up to links that ya'll should have seen months ago, I present: Chanukah: For listening, for giving—klezmer and its cousins, by George Robinson. There are video clips from several bands, as well as reviews. Enjoy!

February 9, 2008

new CD of meditative Jewish music

CD coverI am an Israeli musician living in Boulder Colorado. I recently released a CD of Hebrew Chanting with my wife Danya Uriel. It is a very unique project in that it is a very relaxing almost meditative musical joirney using ancient Hebrew texts. We've been getting incredible reviews world wide. You can learn more about us at: www.HebrewChanting.com

November 4, 2007

New CD Release: Alisa Fineman

This just in from the artist:

CD coverAward winning songwriter, recording artist and evoloving cantorial soloist, Alisa Fineman's release of "Closing the Distance—Poems, Prayers and Love Songs" is her first Jewish music recording. Produced by jazz guitarist and former Windham Hill artist, Alex de Grassi, she is joined by a stunning array of musicians who add the spice and energy Alisa's voice invites. Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul and Mary says, "… a marvelous addition to the contemporary voices who continue to give life and vitality to the Jewish tradition. Alisa's heart is as warm as her superb voice." For details, see the artist's website at www.alisafineman.com.

September 27, 2007

New Havdalah CD released

Gail Javitt writes:

CD coverI recently released Like a Braided Candle: Songs for Havdalah. It is a unique collection of songs for Havdalah, in a variety of musical styles and traditions. It includes three klezmer arrangements (performed by members of The Village Klezmer Quintet), one of which is an original song called "A Gute Voch."

You can also read more about it and hear clips at www.zahavamusic.com

November 30, 2004

New fusion of Indian and Jewish meditation/ecstatic music released

Susan Deikman writes the Jewish-Music mailing list:

I'm pleased and excited to announce the release of my new CD!

Kiss the Beloved: Kabbalistic Kirtan

Talented musicians on the recording include:
Yofiyah (vocals)
Lenny Seidman (tabla, frame drum)
Roger Mgrdichian (oud)
Joe Tayoun (doumbek, riq)
Amira Dvorah (bansuri flute)
Andrew Bleckner (harmonium)

KABBALISTIC KIRTAN is a new Jewish musical experience, a fusion of East and West inspired by chant from India (kirtan) and music of the Middle East. Blending inspiring melodies, driving drum beats, and call and response chanting of short Hebrew prayers and names of God, Kabbalistic kirtan inspires a sense of Oneness and unity with all, marked by deep joy and even ecstasy.

for information, contact:
Yofiyah at: 215-242-6677
www.hebrewkirtan.com
E-mail Susan Deikman

November 3, 2003

New reviews by George Robinson

George Robinson announces a slew of new music columns published almost all together in New York's Jewish Week:

Five-Star Klez: From New Orleans and Odessa, fusion and traditional approaches.

A Fall Sampler: From Solomon Rossi to Michael Strassfeld.

Heard Around The World: From Turkey to London to the Lower East Side.

March 22, 2003

Review of Laura Wetzler CD

Looks like kabbalah to meIt's about time, but we finally have a short review up of the marvellous recent CD by Laura Wetzler, Kabbalah Music

March 8, 2003

"Kabbalah Music" CD Concert Art Exhibit, premiers Mar 9

Looks like kabbalah to me

"Kabbalah Music" CD Release Concert & Art Exhibit
Sisters Explore Jewish Mysticism through Music and Painting

Laura Wetzler in "Kabbalah Music: Songs of the Jewish Mystics" Sunday, March 9, 3pm at The Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W.67th St., NYC. Tickets $25. Call Box Office:(212) 501-3330, Special Guests: Alicia Svigals, violin (of the Klezmatics,) Amir Chehade & Robin Burdulis, mideast percussion; Scott Wilson, kanun; Maurice Chedid, oud. Set Design and Art Exhibit by Angela Milner.

In conjunction, "Kabbalah Music: Encaustic Paintings by Angela Milner" The Merkin Concert Hall Gallery, 129 W.67th St. NYC. March 9-April 1. Post "Kabbalah Music" concert reception and art opening in gallery. Gallery hours by appointment thereafter: (212) 307-1385.

Continue reading ""Kabbalah Music" CD Concert Art Exhibit, premiers Mar 9" »

Klezmer Reviews in "Sing Out!"

Seth Rogovoy posts to the Jewish-music mailing list:

The new issue of Sing Out! Magazine (Vol. 47, No. 1, Spring 2003) with Irish-American fiddle Liz Carroll on the cover contains reviews by yours truly of Jewish music recordings by the Red Hot Chachkas, Laura Wetzler and the recent anthology of klezmer called KLEZfest put out by ARC Music.

Eventually, these reviews will be posted at my website.

February 23, 2003

Five New Reviews

The next-best-thing to Hopper in expressing exile and alonenessIn what I hope will be the beginning of a plethora of new reviews, as I catch up with the pile of CDs that has accumulated since before my wedding, I have the first five up. All of these are great albums, but I caution folks that this is still the tip of the iceberg. In any event:
  • Pharaoh's Daughter / Exile, 2002 -- this will blow your mind. Basya Schechter has gotten superlative reviews for previous albums, but this new album is even better.

  • The Red-Hot Chachkas / Family Album, 2002 -- I have been following Julie Egger since she formed her first band, post KlezKamp, in 1998. This album shows how good she, and the band are. It is a very exciting traditional klezmer album with a couple of excellent new tunes.

  • Vocolot / Heart Beat, 2002 -- my earliest memory of Linda Hirschhorn is her talking with a friend of mine, even before I moved to Berkeley (which is a major relocation ago) about her music. Here, she and her primarily a capella band, the Vocolot (how aptly named! "vocolot" is Hebrew for "voices") range all over the world for songs of spirit and beauty, as well as featuring some of Linda's newest compositions.

  • clunky pastel drawing - not to my taste, although the type is fineAdrianne Greenbaum / FleytMuzik, 2002 -- I am awestruck, and am not going to waste further verbiage trying to describe what an amazing, beautiful, virtuosic album this is. If you like klezmer, or you like flute, or if you didn't know that you liked either, this will still be your favorite album for a long time.

  • Paul Shapiro / Midnight Minyan, 2003 -- this just arrived. I popped it on to the changer to check it out, and have had a hard time not leaving it on constant replay ever since. Shapiro works primarily with the familiar Conservative synagogue song that all bar mitzvahs of a certain age (and perhaps bar and bat mitzvahs to this day) will recall. But what he does with this music, and with other Jewish sources, is to take davening to a new level. This is spiritual music and jazz of the highest order. (Bet you never davened to a rhumba before!)

Enjoy.

February 17, 2003

Best of 2002, from George Robinson

Every year, George Robinson pegs the best of the albums that he has reviewed. The Klezmershack is months behind, so I'm just getting this up now. Still, the choices are excellent, so any time is the right time to read them:

www.klezmershack.com/articles/robinson/021125.sounds.html

February 5, 2003

Wandering through Jewish tradition by BEN-CANAR: a new CD from OW

Best greetings from Poland!

I am writing to you because I would like to inform you that we just released the CD called "Nedudai" by SHANI BEN-CANA. This is wonderful record of young talented musician who lives in Safed, Israel.

Continue reading "Wandering through Jewish tradition by BEN-CANAR: a new CD from OW" »

December 30, 2001

The Soul of Klezmer: Last reviews of 2001

Capsule reviews of music by San Francisco Klezmer Experience, Channe Nussbaum & Spielniks, Jack Kessler, Bang on a Can, Abby Rabinowitz, Klezmerica, Musa Berlin, Di Gojim, Jamie Saft, Jeremy Brown, and compilation 'The Soul of Klezmer'

December 16, 2001

Moshe Berlin live performance available

Nine years ago, Joel Rubin recorded Moshe (Musa) Berlin and his ensemble at the second Hakafot after Simchat Torah in the Beit ha-Rav Kook Yeshiva in Jerusalem. It has been edited down to 2 CDs, "Aneinu beyom koreinu" (Answer Us on the Day We Call) through Gal-Paz in Jerusalem or Tara Music in the US and is described by Rubin as "my favorite recording of Musa.

December 7, 2001

Years's Best Recordings by George Robinson

George Robinson selects the years best, including albums by Bang on a Can, Klezamir, Klezperanto, David Lang, Frank London, Peter Salzman and the Revolution Ensemble, Shirona, Robert Starer, Josh Waletzky, Za'atar, Emil Zrihan, and recordings of Composers of the Holocaust, The Yemenite Jews, and The Music of the Mountain Jews.

December 1, 2001

The latest hot stuff, part 2, 12 Dec 2001

Capsule reviews of music by Moshe 'Moussa' Berlin, Klezmokum, Di Naye Kapelye, Shirim Klezmer Orchestra w/Ellen Kushner, Lerner & Moguilevsky (aka 'Klezmer en Buenos Aires'), Hester Street Troupe, Mesinke, a rerelease from the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, and two compilations: the Rough Guide to Klezmer and Henry Sapoznik's Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World.

November 30, 2001

A New liturgical voice, by Cantor Sam Weiss

A New Liturgical Voice, a , by reviewer Cantor Sam Weiss, Sept. 2001. This page is based on an article in Volume XXVIII of The Journal of Synagogue Music, published by The Cantors Assembly.