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New reviews, at last

Driven by the arrival of a new recording from my current favorite Israeli band, I've managed to get to a few CDs that fell off the giant mountain awaiting review. Enjoy

K&P album coverWhen improvisational musicians are really "on" the result is a harmony of disharmony and shards of melodic fragments. This Tel Aviv trio get it in every way and the result is immediately my favorite improvisational album of the year. Kruzenshtern & Parohod / Songs

Krakauer album coverSome David Krakauer albums are all about David Krakauer, genius performer on the clarinet. Some albums have him balanced by a hot band. In this live performance everyone is on fire, but Krakauer stills seems out of balance much of the time. This is not necessarily a bad thing for those who love clarinet pyrotechnics. There is some notable sampling by guest DJ SoCalled. David Krakauer / Live in Krakow

Panorama jazz band album coverFans of the New Orleans Klezmer AllStars may remember clarinetist Ben Schenck from early recordings. That didn't mean that he exited from delving into either New Orleans Jazz traditions or world dance music. His Panorama Jazz Band has been holding down a weekly club gig for several years and now the result has been recorded for home consumption. Panorama Jazz Band / Another hot night in February features lots of Dixieland and early jazz, but also some great klezmer, balkan brass band music and other great dance tunes.

Krakauer album coverThe former San Francisco Klezmer Experience, now known as "Klez-X" (The San Francisco Jewish Bulletin in now known as "J"—there's an alphabet thing going on out there.) always felt loud a loud, boisterous, exciting, well, ... mess. The new snapshot provided by this CD is of a band that has lost none of its exuberance, but has gained major maturity, and which has moved to embrace a wonderful, wild variety of new Jewish music. This is a special one. Klez-X / Harbst

Mazel Tov Orchestra album coverI have had less time to review more "traditional" (a funny word when used to refer to music that has been newly re-adapted to Jewish weddings and clubs in the last generation) bands. Portland, Oregon's Mazel Tov Orchestra is one excellent example of a band playing a wide variety of Jewish and Jazz music. Mazel Tov Orchestra / Yiddishe Tam

Klezmer Juice album coverKlezmer Juice is one of the younger West Coast klezmer bands, featuring an amazingly fluid clarinet player (and a great cover artist!). Klezmer Juice / Actions speak louder than words. Indeed.

South Coast Klezmer album coverThis may be the tightest ensemble of the traditional Klezmer bands recently reviewed here. The beat is far less stiff, and the interplay between the band members is wonderfully smooth. There is a very good selection of popular klezmer and Israeli standards and medleys. South Coast Klezmer / Classic American Klezmer.

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