Max & Minka
Max & Minka
Limited edition (222 printed), 2002 max & minka
Jeanette Lewicki is better known to many of us as the accordion and voice of San Francisco's anarcho-klezmer street trio, "The Gonifs," or from her work with the San Francsico Klezmer Experience. Now, paired with Matthew Fass as "Max and Minka" the duo have produced one of the loveliest klezmer/accordion/everything music CDs to have arrived in recent years. The first half of the CD consists of (mostly) Yiddish songs and klezmer. Imagine yourself, if you will, sometime, perhaps 100 years ago, in one of the classier bistros in Yiddishland. The duo wander from table to table, theatrically serenading in Yiddish and French. Of particular note is the inclusion of the Weill/Fernay evocation of a land that doesn't exist, "Youkali" (also recently covered, interestingly enough, on Rob Burger's "Lost Photograph"). Then, the dream gradually changes as the long medley that makes the second half of the CD draws the listener in. This is the half that focuses on what makes an accordion, and this music, so much fun - the enormously inventive, wonderful "patchwork suite." The suite pulls in a third accordion, evoking, at times, Guy Klucevsek's "Accordion Tribe". As much as I enjoy the vocals, this is the part of the album that leaves me hungriest, wanting the suite to go on forever and ever. To paraphrase Billy Joel, bad accordion music - well, even a peanut butter sandwich is better. But great accordion music, including the joyful scat nonesense in the middle, clearly there for fun and fun only, ain't nothing can beat it. This is great accordion music.
The cover is an amazing print of rather delightful artwork. Open up the CD and see the accordion fold connecting the duo. The lyrics are printed (albeit at leading that is a trifle tight) in a prime unreadable Yiddish typeface nicely matched to English.
This is the sort of CD that you purchase because it is a work of art, and then you discover that there is some great music on it, as well!
www.maxminka.com, while they last.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4/27/03
Personnel this recording:
Matthew Fass: accordion
Jeanette Lewicki: accordion, vocal
C. Ryder Cooley: accordion, "Patchwork Suite"
- Vu bistu geven--Where were you (music: trad; words: after Noah Nachbush) 2:56
- Saposhkelekh--Little Boots (music: trad; words: after Bronya Sakhina) 3:22
- Akh, pi vodka--Oh, Drink Vodka (music: trad; words: after Prince Nazaroff) 3:15
- Dem ershtn valts--From the first walz (music: trad; words: from the Klezmatics) 3:20
- Youkali (music: Kurt Weill; words: Roger Fernay) 5:44
- Patchwork Suite (trad., arr. Fass, Lewicki, Cooley) 14:19