Other reviews of interest:

Dave Tarras / Yiddish-American Music, 1925 - 1956

Yikhes (Inheritance) Klezmer Recordings from 1907 - 1939

Rounder Records web page

Album cover: B/w image of Brandwein playing.

Naftule Brandwein
King of the Klezmer Clarinet

Rounder CD 1127, 1997

Rounder Records Corp.
One Camp St., Cambridge, MA 02140 USA

Naftule Brandwein
King of the klezmer clarinet

  1. Heiser Bulgar 3:05
  2. Freit Sich, Yiddelach (Be Happy Jews) 3:16
  3. Der Terkisher-Bulgar Tanz 3:09
  4. Kolomeika (Ukrainian Dance) 2:46
  5. Naftule spielt far dem rebin (Naftule plays for the Rabbi) 2:42
  6. Nifty's Freilach 2:46
  7. Oi tate, s'is gut (Oh daddy, that's good!) 3:04
  8. Der Terk in America 2:58
  9. Wie bist die gewesen vor Prohibition (Where were you before Prohibition) 3:05
  10. Das Teureste in Bukowina (The dearest one in Bukovina) 3:06
  11. Der Heisser (Tartar dance) 3:13
  12. A hora mit tzibeles (Hora with onions) 3:13
  13. Fun Tashlach (Returning from the river) 3:00
  14. Leben zol Palestina (Long live Palestine) 3:01
  15. Dem Rebin's Chusid (The Rabbi's disciple) 3:01
  16. Der Yid in Jerusaleim 3:00
  17. Bulgar ala Naftule 3:04
  18. Kleine Princessin (Little princess) 2:43
  19. Turkishe yalle vey uve 3:18
  20. Naftule, shpiel es noch amol (Naftule, play it again) 3:10
  21. Araber Tanz 3:04
  22. Nifty's eigene (Nifty's own) 2:37
  23. Fufzehn yahr fon der heim awek (fifteen years away from home) (Russian Dance) 3:08
  24. Vie tsvie is Naftule der driter (Where there are two, Naftule is the third) 3:01
  25. Freilicher yontov (Happy holiday) ("Naftule's Own," #1) 2:41

Sound samples are available
in RealAudio and WAV formats on the Rounder Records page for this album.

For years, Naftule Brandwein has been a rumor. Veteran klezmer players will offer to pass along "a cassette or two" with treasured transcriptions. The odd cut will show up on an anthology featuring a wild, fluid playing and leaving one wondering where the rest is.

A good chunk of the rest is now available on Rounder Records thanks to Henry Sapoznik, who is responsible for numerous other rereleases (among my favorites, the Dave Tarras retrospective a few years ago for Yazoo). The restoration is near-impeccable.

Even a short listen makes it clear why this is such a mechaya. Brandwein wasn't just any clarinet player. Although he called himself "the King of Jewish music," it wasn't far from true. Certainly, when it comes to absolute mastery of the clarinet, an absolutely wonderful and fluid playing style, he is without peer. His playing is also emotional and alive. Where Dave Tarras will sometimes come off as too practiced, Brandwein recordings always sound as though the idea has just come to his head and now he is illustrating by playing his heart out. And despite the fact that he is very much the traditional klezmer, the cymbal blasts on "Wie Bist Die Gewesen Vor Prohibition" (Where were you before Prohibition) seem very American. And yet, followed by a weepy like "Das Teureste in Bukowina" (The dearest one in Bukovina), one becomes aware of his range and emotional depth.

Something wonderful happened to klezmer when it hit these shores. Listening to this album, one is struck by the appropriateness of another Brandwein title, "Naftule, Shpiel es noch amol" (Naftule, play it again). Thanks to Sapoznik's good work, he is playing again, and clearer than ever.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 1/19/97.

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