The Bay Area KlezReport, June 1992

The band, seen through one of those wide angle lenses. A signal that the contents are changing!Klezmatics, (Rhythm+Jews) on Germany's Piranha label, out for several months somewhere, and only now reaching Bay Area is by far the most intriguing and musically wonderful album I have heard this year. I don't know how to get copies (other than writing to Germany), or hoping that local stores keep it in stock, but this is "next generation klez." I love it. Play it side by side with the more experimental new release by the Bay Area's own New Klezmer Trio (Masks and Faces). These bands represent a new, and very exciting fusion of Klez with world music. To me, it's the next step in reclaiming Klezmer music--moving forward with the tradition and integrating the music with today's variety of sounds and rhythms.

Also new and noted, the Budapester Klezmer Band have released an album. I don't know why I'm surprised, but it's a very nice, bright, spirited album and a lot of fun. It's just that ... it's from Budapest! Folkie magazines indicate that we'll be hearing lots more Klez from Eastern Europe in the coming months.

Shanachie has finally released some oldies on CD. This includes one Andy Statman Orchestra (Klezmer Music, 1983) album, an older Kapelye album (Future and Past, 1981), and, most exciting, their Yazoo division has released a new glorious tribute to Dave Tarras, (Yiddish-American Klezmer Music 1925-1956) compiled by the Henry Sapoznik and the late Tarras, himself. It contains cuts Tarras recorded from the 1920s through the 1950s. It's more than Dave Tarras, though. This album represents a sampler of 30 years of Jewish music, reflecting a Jewish community arriving in the United States and assimilating the variety of world music in the melting pots of the time. Highly recommended. These releases come with a marketing push by Shanachie, so they generally easy to find in the Klezmer or Israel sections of regular record stores.

Ho hum: New releases by the Maxwell St. Klezmer Band (Wedding Party) and Klezmer Conservatory Band (Old World Beat) leave me unimpressed. Given the extraordinary work both bands have released in the past, these are especially disappointing. The new Mazeltones (Zei Gezunt) is very nice. A new band, West Side Klezmorim, (Freylekhs 21) is okay, but didn't leave me blown away. Some days I'd think this was pretty damn good. Other days, I'd wonder why it was on the CD turntable.

Album cover: Old-time klezmer band.With no fanfare, and quaintly translated liner notes (English, German, French) we have a new compilation of klez recordings from the first half of this century called Yikhes. Quite tasty--includes some Brandwein and Tarras, as well as some bands and tunes that are unfamiliar. For those whose interest runs more to Yiddish song, rather than Klezmer per se, highly recommended is the compilation Yiddish Is Alive from Israel's Hed Artzi records. This is a very interesting, wonderful-to-listen-to compilation with a wide variety of old and new Yiddish sounds.

Notes by Ari Davidow

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