Matt Temkin's Yiddishe Jam Band / Poykler's Shloft Lied

Review by Keith Wolzinger

not impressive type at all

Matt Temkin's Yiddishe Jam Band
Poykler's Shloft Lied, 2008
CD available from

I am a big fan of Matt Temkin, knowing him and playing with him for the past nine years. While Matt has been mostly playing in groups as a sideman, he has at long last assembled his own group, Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band. The combination of straight Klezmer as it was played in New York, Philadelphia, and Chicago, plus a swinging jazz style make for a well-rounded set that pays homage to the Klezmer old school greats as well as a nod to some jazz legends.

Temkin says that the album pays tribute to Klezmer greats Elaine Hoffman-Watts, German Goldenshteyn, The Epstein Brothers, Paul Pincus, Howie Leess, Ray Musiker, and Peter Sokolow. This style of Klezmer is my favorite, with music that is meant for dancing.

Throughout the album Temkin lays down the perfect groove, with drum styles like the Bulgar, Freylekhs, Swing, and some cool Jazz. He has a clear vision of what the band is about, and I believe he is headed in the right direction.

The album covers a lot of musical territory. Temkin captures the sound of his home town on "Chicago Medley," with three great tunes played the way his grandfather would have played them.

"Philly Bulgar" is a great tune that I know as "Nicolaev Bulgar," and is played in the distinctive Philly style. Listen to the great Trombone work from Rachel Lemisch.

"Epstein" and "Borsht" are in the New York style. The Epsteins, along with Peter Sokolow, are famous for bringing many of these Jewish dance tunes to the Hasidic wedding halls of Brooklyn. "Borsht" is a medium swing tune and has good solos from the Mike Cohen on Clarinet and guest Frank London on Trumpet.

"German’s Bulgar #9" and "7:40" are European in origin. German Goldenshteyn came to the U.S. from Moldova and brought his extensive repertoire with him. This is one of the best examples of the Moldovan style. "7:40" is a fast Freylekhs that just keeps going. This is one that I never get tired of hearing.

"Rumshinsky’s Theater Bulgar" and "Count Rushimsky’s Bulgar" are two versions of the same tune. "Theater Bulgar" is a medium tempo piece that is always a popular feature. Here we get some nice solos from Binyumen Ginzberg on Piano, Allen Watsky on Guitar, and Temkin on Drums. "The Count" gives us a Quincy Jones/Count Basie look at the same tune. I would also give it kudos as the best arrangement on the album. Good solos as well. I love the classic Count Basie ending, too. You don’t hear it often in Klezmer Swing, but it adds a nice touch here.

The title track, "Poykler’s Shloft Lied" (Drummer’s Lullaby) is an original jazz tune with a very distinctive groove led by Temkin on Drums and Brian Glassman on Bass. The Bass line is my favorite on the album. It’s just perfect for this track, which is a vehicle for some open solos from the band.

The sound quality is excellent. Temkin teamed up with Drummer Aaron Alexander to produce the album, and the results speak for themseves. Al Perrotta Engineered, Mixed, and Mastered the tracks to perfection. I like the mix very much, having listened to it from headphones, computer speakers, in the car, and with my home theater (which revealed a great depth of the soundfield; deep, rich bass, and every instrument clear and distinct, paticularly all the bits of Temkin’s Drum kit.

Liner notes are very limited, with one side of the CD cover foldout for song descriptions, track and personnel listings on the back, and thank yous behind the CD tray. I would have liked a photo of the band, but some good ones are posted on the band’s web pages.

As Yiddishe Jam Bands go, I think Matt Temkin has the right idea. Blend some great Klezmer, Swing, and a little Jazz and there you have it. A great album, and a great introduction to the music of some Klezmer legends for those just getting interested in the genre. There certainly are no sleepy Drummers in this band!

Reviewed by Keith Wolzinger, Klezmer Podcast, 3 Oct 2008.

Personnel this recording:
Matt Temkin: drums
Mike Cohen: reeds
Binyumen Ginzberg: keyboards
Brian Glassman: bass
Jordan Hirsch: trumpet
Rachel Lemisch: trombone
Allen Watsky: guitar, bass (#8)

with special guest:
Frank London
: trumpet (1, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8)


  1. Count Rumshinsky's Bulgar 4:32
  2. Philly Bulgar 3:35
  3. Borsht 4:31
  4. Chicago Medley 6:31
  5. Epstein 3:09
  6. German's Bulgar #9 4:02
  7. 7:40 2:41
  8. Poykler's Shloft Lied (Drummer's Lullaby) 9:18
  9. Rumshinsky's Theatre Bulgar 3:30

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