Khevre / Oyfn Sheydveg
reviewed by Pete Rushefsky
Khevre / Oyfn Sheydveg
CD available from cdbaby.com
I've been listening a lot to the new Khevre CD Oyfn sheydveg (At the Crossroads). It's really an amazing work by a group of young 20-somethings from Boston's New England Conservatory.
Many of you may remember the group's leader clarinetist/saxophonist Michael Winograd as a punky, heckling Long Island kid-- the proverbial problem child of Klez Kamp. Rest assured that despite his coming-of-age, Winograd's managed to hold on to much of his irreverence, and has channeled his freneticism into making some great music. I remember the late, great Howie Leess shaking his head and saying of Winograd "the kid's a pain, but he's sure got chops." Yes chops he's got in spades, but he's also developed a mature sensibility for Yiddish music.
Singer Dana Sandler is new to the klezmer scene—I met her at KlezKanada last summer, and she's a remarkable talent. Now I don't know a thing about modern jazz singing (which Dana studies at NEC), but she's got a beautifully understated style that orbits somewhere between Chava Albertstein and Bjork (yes that's an ignorant, unwieldy compliment but I'm grasping for adjectives).
And the rest of the band is great as well. Following in the path Alicia Svigals first paved, violinist Eylem Basaldi's playing caravans between Istanbul and Iasi. Carmen Staaf is a talented and sensitive pianist who is also developing into a very good klezmer accordionist. And if rhythm section men Jorge Roeder (bass) and Richie Barshay (drums) aren't the most studied klezmer musicians, they've got tremendous skill along with the sense when to hold back.
The album's first track "Vikhtik" by Efroyim Vaksman is one of the most divine and infectious anthems you'll ever hear on a klezmer album. The album also features Winograd's musical adaptions of Yiddish poems, and most excitingly, a couple of collaborations of Winograd with the up-and-coming New York Yiddish songwriter Sarah Gordon.
Like the Klezmatics, whose influence here is clear, Khevre shows a great ability to recombine different musical forms while remaining true to the Yiddish mama klingen. But this band is possibly even more expansive in its willingness to venture into alternative soundscapes. Though some of the instrumental medleys on Oyfn sheydveg could have been rendered more carefully and imaginatively, there's no doubt that Khevre along with the brilliant Princeton-kapelye-emeritus Klez Dispensers offer vistas of Yiddish music's bright future.
Reviewed by Pete Rushefsky, 21 Jan 2005. Originally posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list.
Personnel this recording:
Dana Sandler: lead vocals
Eylem Basaldi: violin
Jorge Roeder: bass
Carmen Staaf: piano, accordion
Richie Barshay: drums, percussion
Michael Winograd: clarinets, flutes, musical director
Jonathan Singer: marimba (4), tabla (7)
Patrick Hay: guitar (5, 7, 11)
Tanya Jacobs addit'l vocals (1, 6, 7, 9)
- Vikhtik (Efroyim Vaksman) 3:03
- Sirba on the Rocks (Michael Winograd) 2:02
- Libe un Toyt (music: Winograd; words: Sarah Mina Gordon) 4:46
- Oyfn Sheydveg (music: Winograd; words: Itzach Manger) 6:33
- Elyohu (music: Winograd; words: Mani Leib) 4:30
- Bulgars #2 (Winograd/trad.) 5:20
- Reyzele (Mordechai Gebirtig) 3:48
- Hora (Eylem Basaldi) 4:05
- S'iz a Lign (Morris Rosenfeld/Folk/Winograd) 4:45
- Bulgars #1 (Winograd/trad.) 4:57
- Friling Himlen (music: Winograd; words: Sarah Mina Gordon) 4:13