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Catching up: Michael Winograd Ensemble at NYBC

It was mother's day. In our family, that meant an opportunity to gather the youngest son and travel out to the National Yiddish Book Center, where this year, the featured band was Michael Winograd's Klezmer Ensemble. The weather was perfect. In fact, it was tempting to sit out in the orchard and watch the birds, enjoy the sun. But, inside we went.

CD coverIt was my first chance to hear Winograd perform material from his latest CD, Bessarabian Hop. For the occasion he also brought in a singer from New York City, a cantor named Judith Berkson. Amazing voice. As was the case with Winograd's earlier band, Khevre, the songs he chose are newer ones, not the usual golden oldies. We started off with Josh Waletzky's "tantsn kales" (Brides are Dancing). By the time the afternoon was over, my notes show songs by Arkady Gendler and Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, as well. As Winograd said about Gottesman (which could have been applied to any of the material), "wicked in a good way, if you know what I mean."

The music was superb. Patrick Farrell's accordion went from Irish to French to New Orleans in seconds. It's rare to see musicians having as much fun playing such complex, sometimes serious music. We also got the real test. Would an audience consisting primarily of older people dig the new stuff? I guess so. In the middle of one of Winograd's introductions, one visitor exclaimed that he had to bring the band to her town, Saratoga Springs. And, at the conclusion of the concert as we drifted out, with the band, to enjoy the sunshine, it appeared as though almost everyone in attendance had lined up to purchase a CD. (It's an excellent CD, by the way. And, I forgot, the reason I bring all of this up months later is to announce that I finally have a simple review of the CD up, myself, to help spread the word. "Bessarabian Hop." It's the new dance/CD craze and a must-have.