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new CD review, just in time for Ashkenaz Fest, Shtreiml's "Eastern Hora"

CD coverWhen you need a pick-me-up, sometimes nothing but a festive Shtreiml will do. On their latest outing, Eastern Hora, the band continues its celebration with Turkish musician Ismail Fenicoglu, blending klezmer seamlessly with Turkish music and coming up with a result that makes the klezmer sound fresh, with energy and life. The result is something not just Jewish or Turkish, but also, as in the case of "A Saturday Evening Blues," as Jason's plaintive harmonica melds with Ismail's soulful our and with the band, the result is something unique.

What is surprising to me is that fewer klezmer bands have made the Turkish connection. After all, klezmer itself grew up in the borderlands between the Ottomans and Europe. To take a full-on North American klezmer sound, with Thierry Arsenault's progressive drumming, Jason Rosenblatt's harmonica and keyboards, nth-generation Philly klezmer Rachel Lemisch's trombone (take a good listen to her riffs on "Rayrus Spielt" and throughout the CD), and the dance-friendly bass-lines of Joel Kerr, and then re-merge it with Fenicoglu's fluent oud and you have a match made in heaven. From the opening, full-steam "Grand Theft Stutinki" and onward into "Chassidl pour les batards" on through the closing, gentle "Lullaby for Halleli" the band is a cure for a world in need of healing dance and soothing music. It is not only clear why this is one of the best wedding bands around, but, here, in concert mode, we get the band exploring a broader dimension of joy and music than would normally come through at a simkhe, with the bonus lightning oud strikes.

Like 2006's "Fenci's Blues," this CD exemplifies what is most exciting about modern klezmer. The playing of traditional music is fluid and celebratory, but the renewal that comes from the encounter with new Turkish music creates a magic that will please not only klezmer fanatics, but fans of Turkish music as well. You can get your own copy, as well as copies for your friends via iTunes or CDBaby.com

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 1 Sep 2014, from the Ashkenaz Festival where Shtreiml are featured performers.