Spiel Azoi / Shpielkes

kinda neat visual representation of spielkes

Spiel Azoi / Shpielkes, 2004
Available in the US from CDBaby.com
Also available direct from the band, home.vicnet.net.au/~azoi/

I really enjoyed the first Spiel Azoi album, and I enjoy the second even more. Starting with a clear case of clarinet "spielkes" (Yiddish for something resembling ADD), the band plays a delightful selection of standards, mixed in with less familiar. And while the repertoire comes primarily from Eastern Europe, there are occasional visitors, such as the more recent hasidic-influenced "Pisku Li" from Shlomo Carlebach, and "Nigun Bialik." In short, this Australian band continues to play energetic, fun, traditional Jewish wedding music in a world that continues to change. But where some wedding bands sound as though they've learned the songs from a book, Spiel Azoi really gets it, and plays it superbly.

There are even bits of lively humor, as on the spoken intro to "Mayn Yiddishe Meydele", placing the song squarely on the singles song circuit, or the group whistling on "Romania, Romania" as though citing "Colonel Bogie." Special mention has to be given to the rhythm section, especially to bassist Mark Shepherd's, whose playing exceeds the group's own high standard.

This is primarily as Yiddish album, with occasional klezmer thrown in, as on the "Lebedik un freylekh/nye zu ritse chlopsti" medly (klezmer and Ukrainian). Many of the songs here were very popular during the beginning of the klezmer revival 20 years ago, and I'm happy to hear them played this well in an active repertoire again. These include not just the aforementioned "Romania Romania," but "Birobidzhan" (as song of such good intentions, a joy to sing and to hear, and representative of every bit of evil Stalinist deceit) and a delightful "Der nayer sher".

Like the band's first album, this one is a delight from down under. I am also pleased to note that it is available from CDBaby.com, so those of us in the northern hemisphere will have an easier time acquiring copies than has traditionally been the case. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 26 Feb 2006.

Personnel this recording:
Dave Evans: piano, accordian
Martin Mackerras: clarinet
Sarah Mandie: vocals
Ben Hendry: drums
Mark Shepherd: double bass


  1. Ketsele broyges (trad.) 3:10
  2. Rumania, Rumania (Aaron Lebedeff) 4:25
  3. Mayn yiddishe meydele (music: Sholom Secunda; words: Anshel Schorr) 2:43
  4. Lo mir oykhnisht leydi zitsn! (Zelik Berditshever) 3:56
  5. Pisku li (music: Shlomo Carlebach; words: 19th verse of psalm 118) 4:23
  6. Az der rebbe elymeylekh (Moshe Nadir) 3:28
  7. Shprayz ikh mir (trad.) 3:39
  8. Nigun bialik (trad.) 2:40
  9. Birobidzhan (trad.) 4:52
  10. Skripe klezmerl skripe (words: Chaim Tauber; music: Sholom Secunda) 3:11
  11. Lebedik un freylekh/Nye zu ritse chlopsti (trad. klezmer/trad. Ukrainian) 8:56
  12. Der nayer sher (Avrom Ellstein) 2:39

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