Ezekiel's Wheels Klezmer Band / Transported

the band spotted busking at a subway station. For months I thought the album was called 'trainspotting.'

Ezekiel's Wheels Klezmer Band / Transported, 2013

CDs, MP3s available via bandcamp.

Some young klezmer bands thrive on mixing as many musical genres together as possible. Ezekiel's Wheel takes an opposite approach: ingesting so much traditional klezmer that even when they write their own material, it sounds like it came from that same anon person who wrote the "trad" music book. Featuring two violins, trombone, bass, and clarinet, the band has a firm grasp on American klezmer. Since one regularly runs into band members playing in Balkan or Irish or other ethnic music bands around town, this focus here on relatively "pure" traditional klezmer is clearly due to choice. As you hear on this album's second cut, the "December Suite," they are also richly informed by undertones of American music culture and history. They are also used to playing music in "suites" as though, heaven forfend, they actually play this music for simkhes and have people dancing along. I have been to several of their concerts and this is what actually happens.

Part of what comes through on this recording is the sheer love of music, matched to unusual skill, and an unusual ability to play tightly as an ensemble. The sheer intensity of the "Doina and Freylakh," or "Zefkl," especially in the interplay between clarinet and trombone (and the individual solos) is astounding. Then you are blown away by the amazing violin, starting with the twin violin play in "December Suite," but together, and individually throughout the recording. In concert, it does seem as though some songs feature one instrument or the other. Here, in the recording, the focus seems to be on ensemble playing. And, while they generally stick primarily to klezmer here, as in concert, they do at least acknowledge of Jewish musical traditions, as in their performance here of "La rosa enflorece."

This review would have been posted much sooner. But so often, when I sit down to listen and make notes, I lose myself and forget. Transported. They have given the word new and different meaning. When they aren't making this wonderful music, Ezekiel's Wheels seem to be involved throughout the community mentoring other musicians and playing wherever they can get people to listen. What you come away with after listening to this recording is not just pleasure, but the desire to hire them for your next simkhe, so that they can bring that skill and joy to you face to face. In the meantime, you can get your own copy of the recording from bandcamp.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 18 October 2014.

Personnel this recording:
Abigale Reisman: violin
Jon Cannon: violin
Kirsten Lamb bass
Nat Seelen clarinet
Pete Fanelli trombone

Song Titles

  1. Honga 02:57
  2. December Suite 07:16
  3. La Rosa Enflorece 04:43
  4. Doina And Freylakh 07:31
  5. Di Veels Shipln Far De Halendish 06:42
  6. Zefki 04:53
  7. Street Tunes 07:53
  8. Whistlestop Sirba 03:27
  9. Oi Tate, S'is Gut 03:32

All songs traditional, arranged by Ezekiel's Wheels

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