interesting graphic. but why helvetica caps? what a waste. Klezmocracy
entrance 11103, 2003

Available from CDBaby.com

Word leaked in from several sources. Lev Liberman, founder of the Klezmorim, mentioned them. Someone on the WELL raved about how good they were. Yankl Falk may have had something to do with it. And it was hard to miss the fact that Courtney von Drehle, reedsman par excellence of my favorite not-klezmer-but-who-cares band, "3 Leg Torso" was a member.

The album is not an anticlimax. It's good. It's excellent. It's jazz with lots of Jewish stuff. The CD opens with "Street Song," which is an adaptation of "Gasn Nign" via fellow Portlander Mike Curtis, I guess. Smooth, strong. Flowing. Languid. It cooks. (It was interesting reviewing this at the same time as the new Monsieur Camembert album, Absynthe. Both focus on jazz of an interesting period, and both play well. Here, the focus is less vocal and more on jazzy interplay. There is less tango and less vamp. More of various Jewish flavors, especially klezmer, albeit this is not an album that sounds klezmer as much as klezmer-inflected world jazz.)

Indeed, from that opening number, most of these are longer, stretched out pieces with lots of room for solo and improvisation. But this is more of a jazz album, not a klezmer album, despite the thumping finale to "Tantst Yidelekh" and the fact that most of the music came from the American klezmer repertoire. The sound owes more to jazz-rock and Miles Davis than to Belf or Second Avenue. This is not a bad thing. In this case, it is actually quite refreshing. It's like having a klezmer jam band without the tedium that jam bands imply. On the other hand, "Freylekh #1" is pure klezmer, horns blasting full tilt, drums and bass moving fiercely, and then that odd B3 (our century's version of the Farfisa?) accompanying to the pleasure of all. Followed by delicious scat on "Sandro's Tune," an adaptation of Second Avenue melody.

More than anything, this is the sort of album that tantalizes. When a band sounds this good, this way, on recording, one knows that the live show is just a couple of orders of magnitude better still. Until then, I'll settle for the CD until the opportunity arises to confirm.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 5/22/04

Personnel this recording:
Ralph Huntley: piano, B3
Joe Janiga: drums
Michael Papillo: bass
Courtney von Drehle: saxes


  1. Street Song 8:19
  2. Miami Beach Rhumba 5:57
  3. Tantst Yidelekh 3:57
  4. Ot Azoy 5:56
  5. Miserlou 6:58
  6. Freylekh #1 5:29
  7. Sandro's Tune 7:53
  8. Bay a Glezele Mashke 3:40
  9. Doina de Percussion 1:04
  10. Freylekhs fun der Khupe 7:39

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