" /> the KlezmerShack: July 2003 Archives

« June 2003 | Main | August 2003 »

July 27, 2003

Four new reviews

Despite best of intentions, I couldn't stop listening to these four albums this weekend. So that's as many reviews as got done:

Super Borvis discards his boots and heads into spaceI used to claim that the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars were the hardest working klezmer bar band in existence. They've gotten much better than that. And their mix of New Orleans funk and Jewish soul just gets better and better with Borvis.

lovely detail from Turkish SynagogueThis is almost the Jewish equivalent of Gregorian Chant, just more recent, in tune with the music of the Ottoman Empire, and, well, very Jewish. Very well done, with very good notes: Maftirim.

white. just white. with perfect type, of courseIf, like me, you thought that Adrianne Greenbaum's flute album, or the Duo Controverso albums were high points of the year, then this incredible collection of clarinet-accordion pieces based on perfect klezmer will be the next essential stop. Truly heymisher.

interesting picture of the band. trivial typeThis is the best Klezmatics album since, oh, "Jews with Horns"? Ecstatic music, ranging from klezmer to hasidish to the edges of new Yiddish music, and words worth listening to, context worth considering. If you read the KlezmerShack, you've probably already got your copy. If not, time to Rise Up.

July 26, 2003

Velvel strikes again! Songs Never Silenced, now out

As he once wrote me, as though feeling guilty, "I can't stop putting out books"! Now Velvel Pasternak has struck again with yet another essential book of Jewish music: Songs Never Silenced:

... The story behind this book is this: in l948, a survivor named Shmerke Kaczerginsky who lived in Paris wrote down the songs that he remembered or that he could gather from others. The book consisted of the lyrics for two hundred and twenty songs, together with the hand- written, melody transcriptions of a hundred of them. His book nearly disappeared after a while and the few remaining copies of it can only be found on the dusty shelves of second hand bookstores. But Velvel Pasternak somehow discovered it and has given it new life in this new edition which contains those hundred for which there were written melodies, and he has added a few more songs from other sources, and a small section of songs without melodies that were simply too powerful to leave out."

Myrian Alter review by Elliott Simon

album coverThis, just posted to the Jewish-music list by Elliott Simon. Sounds like my kind of CD. I'm looking forward to getting my own copy.

"A new CD from Myriam Alter features her compositions, that have argentinian/judeo spanish roots, played by an interesting quintet that includes joey baron and greg cohen (part of Zorn's Masada) an Argentinian bandoneon (accordion) player, dino saluzzi, and kenny werner on piano...my review from the july AAJ was just posted at www.allaboutjazz.com/reviews/r0703_142.htm"

Khupe review von Deutschland

That amazing German klezmer, Heiko Lehmann, has lots of good things to say about the new Khupe album (I intend to do the same in English, asap). The review is in German, on the German Klezmer pages. As he says, " Khupe ist das ohne Zweifel gelungen, mehr noch: Heymisher übertrifft das Debütalbum". Whatever that means, ich bin einverstanden. You can read the whole thing on www.klezmer.de. Note, above and to the left, what happens to an all-white cover with a smear of teeny tiny print, reproduced on an all white background. Don't be fooled. This is a killer album. More, anon. Or, check out the sound samples and review at the URL above, NOW.

Bohlman Rescues Music of Rare Jewish Cabarets

Sam Weiss posted this neat article to the Jewish-music mailing list:

from U. of Chicago Chronicle, June 12, 2003:
By Seth Sanders

"Not only can Philip Bohlman discuss the Jewish cabaret music that was rescued from oblivion by the Austrian Censor's office--he and his colleagues also can perform it, rescuing it once again.

"Bohlman, Professor in Music and the College, is an ethnomusicologist who researches Jewish music, the musical cultures of Europe, America and the Middle East, and the musical dimensions of religion, nationalism and racism. Just last year he published World Music: A Very Short Introduction, which brings all of these elements together. ...

The rest of the article is on the University of Chicago website at chronicle.uchicago.edu/030612/bohlman.shtml

July 20, 2003

new Yiddish music

Just recently I added a new category to the KlezmerShack's review listings, "New Yiddish Music". It is something that I have considered for several years, and have debated around in my mind for a long time. This wasn't just a bureaucratic reorg. I'm hoping that this attempt at categorization will spark some discussion.

Please read the full article and add comments, if you like.

July 17, 2003

Jeff Dorchen strikes back with Ad-Hoc Book of Days

In the "if I don't mention it, where will you find out about it" category, Jeff Dorchen, who does all sorts of interesting stuff, has invented a wonderful "ad hoc book of days". Sample:

February 13, Lag b'Omar

This was the day Omar was supposed to have my car ready. Now he tells me I have to take it to the dealership.

» On this day I thought Omar was laggin' b'hind.

WOOD OF THE DAY: red cedar

Lest I be accused of abandoning all Jewish music in my last few posts, don't miss his "Jewboy Cain — Socialist Orthodox Jewish Folksinger from the South". Scary how much he looks like Elvis and reminds me of my favorite Chicago grunge klezmer band, "Shloinke".

July 15, 2003

Divan: the film, premieres on West Coast at SFJFF

"Divan" stars at the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival

  • at the Castro, Wednesday, July 23, 6:45pm
  • Party: at Bistro E. Europe with langos, turo csusza, and the music of DANUBIUS, Thurs, July 24, 7:45 - 10pm, 4901 Mission Street (www.bistroe.com for extended menu and info...)
  • at Wheeler Auditorium in Berkeley, Monday, July 28, 1pm
  • at Rafael Film Center, San Rafael, Sunday, August 3, 2:45pm
  • Check out a clip of DIVAN on: www.sfjff.org/sfjff23/video/

    Tickets for the screenings available on: www.sfjff.org

    To reclaim an ancestral couch upon which esteemed rabbis slept, Pearl Gluck travels from her Hasidic community in Brooklyn to her roots in Hungary. Along the way, a colorful cast of characters gets involved - the couch exporter, her ex-communist cousin in Budapest, a pair of matchmakers, and a renegade group of formerly ultra-Orthodox Jews. Divan is a visual parable that offers the possibility of personal reinvention and cultural re-upholstery.

    Soundtrack by Frank London

Hankus Netsky Institute canecelled

We just got a note from Hankus Netsky that "this year's New England Conservatory summer klezmer workshop (scheduled for 7/21-7/25) has been cancelled."

July 11, 2003

Appreciating the Stringband

I've been playing hooky this past week. Whilst checking out how to get a copy of the rather excellent new Flying Bulgars album (Sweet Return), I discovered that the distributor, www.festival.bc.ca also distributed a two-CD set, "The Indispensible Stringband". It is indispensible.

If a man of Joe Clark's ability could rise to be premier of Canada, then by the same logic, he could have risen to be head of Ontario Hydro. If that happened, and if Three Mile Island happened here ... Joe Clark would have been in charge! Thank goodness he was only prime minister.

Who are the Stringband? Who, in particular, are the Canadian band that called itself, "Stringband"--they always intended to be the something something stringband, but before they agreed on a name, they were named, as it were. [I note right here that there are only vague tenuous Jewish connections to the Stringband, although there is a tenuous klezmer connection--read below. Although Bob Bossin is of Jewish ancestry, and seems to be a dynamite person and a dynamite organizer, I have never detected any Yiddishkeit in his songs. The closest he gets is the way you can imagine some Mordechai Richler old-timer from St. Urbain's st in Montreal, as the father in "Daddy was a Ballplayer". And while early fiddler Ben Mink went on to produce the Chava Alberstein-Klezmatics collaboration that has given us such incredible pleasure, this was not a Jewish gig for him, either. Fortunately, we live in a modern world in which we are engaged both within our community, and without. And sometimes, as here, so blown away by finding something precious and wonderful, that who cares?]

So, throughout the 1970s--during the period when I was hanging out in Jerusalem and listening to nearly enough Arik Einstein and Shlomo Gronich, Tzlilei HaKerem, and Tammuz, the Stringband toured backwards and forwards across Canada. Along the way, they helped create a new Canadian folk music. They celebrated Canada in songs such as "Maple Leaf Dog" or "Dief will be the Chief Again" or the uproarious, raucous, oh, so true, "Newfoundlanders." They celebrated good politics, too, from "Show us the length" to the best rewrite of "Talking Atom Blues" a person could ask for. It was hearing their "New Talking Atom Blues" on the radio that first caught my attention:

If a man of Joe Clark's ability could rise to be premier of Canada, then by the same logic, he could have risen to be head of Ontario Hydro. If that happened, and if Three Mile Island happened here ... Joe Clark would have been in charge! Thank goodness he was only prime minister.

We could say the same about our current president.

But there is more--There is Marie-Lynn Hammond's voice, and her own songs celebrating a different side of Canada, and a strong feminist politics different from Bossin's "causes": "Vancouver" or "I Don't Sleep with Strangers Anymore", "Flying/Spring of '44" or "Log Driver's Waltz" (that one actually a cover) and the incredible French ballads--this, years before the McGarrigle Sisters--and occasionally, whoever the band's fiddler was--someone in the band had to know how to play an instrument well--smoking, wonderful fiddle tunes. (Do I sound like I can't stop listing song titles? I'm listening as I type this, and each song causes me to pause and to enjoy, again. It's hard to leave out titles when each one is so different, and they're all so good.)

It's a picture of Canada, from coast to coast, an audio portrait of a time, and just plain wonderful folk music. The Stringband were the musical equivalent of Peter Gzowski's morning show on the CBC. Someone will one day have to pry my old LPs out of my cold, stiff fingers. But having so much of the material on this incredible set (plus a few pieces I hadn't heard) has distracted me, not just from klezmer, but from anything but listening and enjoying and remembering, and watching the younger folks in the house ask, "who are these people? they're really good."

I should also mention that listening to the Stringband also introduced me to the Vancouver Folk Festival, and Ferron, and Connie Kaldor, and Dave Essig--who knew there was more to Canadian music than Bruce Cockburn (Don't get me started about Bruce Cockburn--I could write as long, but differently, about his incredible music. This isn't his article.)

So, expect more writing about klezmer and new Jewish music soonest, and thanks for reading about something else for a few minutes. And if I've gotten you interested, do check out their website and listen to some clips online. As the band sings in Daddy was a Ballplayer, "there's some played harder, and there's some played smarter, but nobody played like you". The Stringband captured those moments, "singing about the old times, living in the new" that mark the best of folk music. You'd have to listen to new Yiddish music by Josh Waletzky to come closer. Oh, yeah, the program booklet is great! Nice typography, too.

July 3, 2003

Shtreiml concert review

Guenther Schoeller posted this review of a recent Shtreiml concert to the Jewish-music mailing list. Reprinted here with the author's permission, Shtreiml on tour in Europe

If you're excited about a recent concert, know that we are always eager to help you get the word out. Send me e-mail at ari@ivritype.com

July 2, 2003

Comic Robin Williams on the Klezmatics

This caught my eye from the current pr piece from Piranha Records, the label that distributes the Klezmatics (along with Emil Zrihan and a host of other amazing artists) in Europe:

*Piranha HISTORY - How Robin Williams worshipped the Klezmatics* It was when The Klezmatics where playing a weekly gay/Jewish comedy & music night in a club in NY, one night, *Hollywood actor*** Robin Williams showed up unannounced while The Klezmatics were playing. When they finished he hit the stage for some improvised stand-up, riffing on a gay/Jewish theme for 20 minutes. The first thing that came out of his mouth is now part of the Klezmatics legend: "With music like this, if you don´t see God, you´re fucking blind."