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Golden Horn releases Veretski Pass CD

amazing graphics from Golden Horn - I only did the typeA few years ago I was wandering in Eastern Europe and found myself befriended by Josh Horowitz (of Budowitz, etc.). We hit it off and became instant good friends. He was about to release the initial Budowitz CD (Budowitz / Mother Tongue, 1997), and I, being the type of nerd that I am, happened to be traveling with my laptop, a few hundred of my favorite fonts, and my copy of Quark XPress. So, while he played some amazing tsimbl one evening, I roughed out better liner notes for the Budowitz CD for him to show the record company how it could all fit in limited space with (what I thought was) grace. To my horror, the half-finished version I prepared that evening was what the record company eventually used.

A few years later, Josh mentions that he, and another old friend, Stu Brotman (Brave Old World, et al), plus violin maven Cookie Segelstein (Klezical Tradition and more) were releasing a new album, and if I was interested. This time, the record company was listening....

Order a Veretski Pass CD right NOW.

Is klezmer dance music? Do fish swim in the water? I had enormous fun typesetting the new liner notes, and while they are not perfect, the music will blow your socks off. Working with the trio, and with Ates, the person running Golden Horn records (also a great source of Balkan Music) was a gas.

This is Eastern European Jewish music, mostly dance music. Sometimes there are hints of chamber music, as comes when three impeccable musicians play together as one. But, mostly this is the most rocking, roots klezmer album I have heard in years. Forget the liner notes, the music is incredibly, almost indescribably good.

Cookie describes the background of the CD thus:

"Much of the music on this recording comes from and near the region of the Veretski Pass (after which the group is named) in the Zakarpatska Oblast (Transcarpathian region) of what is now Ukraine, the main crossroads through which the Jews traversed the Carpathian Bow. There is a stunning suite of Crimean Tatar music and also a rare Karaite song, followed by improvisations and a pyrotechnic fiddle song performed on a scordatura violin. There are also original compositions, a suite with a bass and viola duet, traditional Jewish and Ukrainian dance tunes all accompanied by rich photographs and finely wrought essays (and even some family recipes) by each member of the trio.

"The book, 'The Music of Veretski Pass,' is the music of the record transcribed by Cookie with a forward by Josh. It is available for $20 plus $2.50 (in the US) shipping You can contact us through our website (www.veretskipass.com), click on BOOK, to find out how to purchase ( where to send the check or money order)."

I'll review the CD soon enough, I hope, but here's a couple of facts. First, Josh and Stu are two of the world's finest tsimbl players. And there are few instruments as good to listen to as the tsimbl. Second, Cookie is incendiary. I'm sure I said nice things about her playing on various albums over the years, because she is pretty incredible, but that was nothing. She tears the place up. Even better, where many klezmer musicians fall back on bluegrass when they are improvising klezmer and heading into the breaks, because that's what they know best when they need more ideas, Cookie improvises something that sounds like, well, living, breathing, must-dance-to klezmer. It just doesn't get any better than this, at least, not until their next album.

The good news is that, although the CD's official release date is April 21st, it is available now from the Golden Horn online shop. (Golden Horn has also also added two recordings of Jewish music from Turkey which were recently reviewed here: Maftirim (Judeo-Sufi Connection) and Yahudice (Urban Ladino Music). Ates, the mensh who runs Golden Horn notes that import titles are usually in stock - he orders them as they sell.

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