Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band

Album cover: beautiful paper cuts. Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
Flying Bulgar Recordings, 1990

Distributed by Traditional Crossroads
PO Box 20320 Greeley Square Station
New York, NY 10001-9992, USA

So, there I am in Toronto, visiting with a good friend who is, how shall we say, not usually connected to that part of the Jewish community that knows from klez. And there is this album by the local klez band. I express my surprise. She affirms that she likes it very much, and puts it on the turntable.

The opening freylakh is comfortable and excellently played. Lots of good horns. It's followed by a nice stretch with the traditional "Rebbe Elimelech." So far, pretty good, if not unique. The big difference between this and many other klez albums that I had heard up to this point is that the band was clearly having fun. They run through an oriental number and do a nice a capella folk song, and then start jamming. And, of course, the band had the ubiquitous fiddler Anne Lederman, who appears on several of my favorite Toronto-based folkie albums (and whose own album, Not a mark in this world, is one of my all-time favorites).

I don't need to blather on. This is just a damn fine, fun klezmer album. In a couple of songs they move klezmer to something new and exciting. The fact that they close with "Alle Brider" which is also on the first Klezmatics album doesn't hurt either. [Here the song is jazzier, with a bit of a salsa(?!!) beat.] If anything, it was where it first occurred to me how both bands were taking klezmer someplace new exciting--that klezmer could become something new and exciting. This, however, is the more traditional of the two Flying Bulgars albums, and an exciting place to learn about klez, or to reminisce about klez that was and how it should sound in 1990.

I have to acknowledge the wonderful packaging of this album. The front and back feature gorgeous woodcuts (an art form that has largely disappeared from the Jewish folk vernacular, much to my regret). The liner notes are clear, complete, and tell about each song and why the band is playing it. A pleasure.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 7/8/95

The latest Flying Bulgar album is Agada. It's really hot. Along with the Klezmatics Jews with Horns, and the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra's Naftule's Dream, it defines my favorite "progressive" klez.

Personnel this recording:
David Buchbinder trumpet, E-flat alto horn
Laura Cesar acoustic bass
Evelyne Datl piano, accordion
Anne Lederman violin, kaval, mandolin, vocals
John Lennard drums, percussion
Allan Merovitz lead vocals
Martin van de Ven clarinet, bass clarinet, taragato


  1. Ishai's Freylekh (arranged by R. Musiker) 3:36
  2. Der Rebbe Elimelekh (arranged by A. Cole/D. Buchbinder) 6:21
  3. Araber Tants 4:35
  4. Fun der Khuppe (arranged by A. Cole) 3:33
  5. Fishelekh in Vasser 3:12
  6. On Sunday the Rabbi stretched out (composed and arranged by D. Buchbinder) 4:19
  7. Kandel's Hora 2:55
  8. Dance Medley: Violin Doyne / Unser Toirele / Varshaver Freylekhs / Kolomeyke (arranged by A. Lederman) 10:35
  9. Saposhkelekh (arranged by A. Lederman/A. Merovitz) 4:54
  10. Der Yiddisher Soldat in die Trenches (composed by N. Brandwein, arranged by M. Van de Ven) 3:15
  11. Alle Brider (arranged with additional material composed by D. Buchbinder) 5:26

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