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December 29, 2003

Oi Va Voi in Top Ten

Bob Wiener alerts the Jewish-Music list:

album coverIn today's NYTimes, Neil Strauss lists "Laughter Through Tears" by Oi Va Voi as his #9 album of the year.

"If Massive Attack was a klezmer band, you'd have Oi Va Voi, a London sextet that pulls together Uzbek, Yiddish and English singers into a mesmerizing, innovative debut of chill-out music with substance."

You can read the BBC review at: www.bbc.co.uk/music/world/reviews/oivavoi_laughter.shtml

You can listen to 1 minute excerpts of all of the songs at: www.sternsmusicshop.com/chart.php

Loads of new articles from Richard Sharma

Richard Scharma writes to the jewish-music list:

There's a bunch of new reviews on Rainlore's World of Music, plus various bits 'n' pieces including a little personal appreciation of this list's incredibly hard working Geraldine at


The J4J issue which reared its ugly head in this list some months ago is also addressed there in a UK context.

Reviews include the fantastic, fabulous Alexandra Yaron live at London's The Spitz, and The World Quintet's (formerly known as Kol Simcha) and the Budapest Klezmer Band's concerts at London's Union Chapel last month. All three are lavishly illustrated as usual.

There are also a couple of superb albums reviewed. Multi-woodwind ace Stewart Curtis' Klezmer Groove's "Too Loud For Dinner" debut album is still an outstanding album and is the first of three coming up. Another first of three album reviews is the superb Dutch Yiddish song duo Mariejan van Oort and Jacques Verheijen's wonderful "Benkshaft" album.

December 23, 2003

Jewish Rock Stars

Seth Rogovoy reviews "Stars of David," a new book about Jewish rock stars in Rockin' Out, for JBooks, the Jewish Family and Life Book Reviews pages. It's a lively, perceptive article with lots of meat even for those not particularly interested in rock music, or this particularly incidental book.

Polish Jewish Music - Online Journal

Judy Pinnolis writes to the Jewish Music list:

The Polish Music Journal, Vol. 6, No. 1, Summer 2003 has several articles on Jewish music. It's an online journal with the full text of the articles available to the public. These articles were mainly from a conferece held in 1998 in LA on Polish/Jewish music. There are also other articles of Jewish interest in the back issues of the journal. Member-of-the-list Hankus Netsky was one of the authors.

There are several articles worth our attention from this recent issue including:

  • Marian Fuks: Musical Traditions of Polish Jews

  • Maciej Golab: Józef Koffler: The First Polish Composer of Twelve-Tone Music

  • Martin Schüssler: "Karol Rathaus—An American Composer of Polish Origin:" The Development of an Americanized View of Rathaus and its Consequences for the Reception of His Music
  • Hankus Netsky: Three Twentieth-Century Jewish Musicians from Poland: Frydman, Rosner, and Bazyler
  • Bret Werb: "Majufes: A Vestige of Jewish Traditional Song in Polish Popular Entertainments"

The URL for the Jewish Music edition of the Polish Music Journal is www.usc.edu/dept/polish_music/PMJ/issue/6.1.03/contents.html

Latest George Robinson reviews

I'm late in passing along with word, but here are the latest Jewish Music reviews by George Robinson in the Jewish week: A World Of Klez: From Uganda to Australia to the Emerald Isle, new CDs offer delightful surprises.

New Jeffrey Wollock article in ARSC

In response to the news about the early European discography, Pete Rushefsky was reminded of another significant article recently released:

[There is a] recent article by Jeffrey (Itzik-Leyb) Wollock in the most recent ARSC (Archives for Recorded Sound Collections) Journal-- in it he provides a discography and excellent background on the State Ukranian Ukranian SSR band -- this is the band than list members may be most familiar with for the recording of the badkhones with virtuosic violin by Rabinovitch and a whole lot of theatrical boo-hooing from the bride.

Wollock was able to meet and interview two people who were in Kiev in the 1930's and had direct knowledge of the band-- one was actually at the recording session.

Provides great details on the background of Rabinovich the violinist (turns out he was in his 70's at the time and also that he didn't have a reputation as a great fiddler -- hard to imagine given the virtuosity exhibited on the badkhones recording). Should be noted that Rabinovich's grandfather was a teacher of the legendary Berditchev fiddler Kholodenko (aka Pedotser).

Also very interesting that the article makes a direct link between Beregovski and the ensemble-- Beregovski it seems was personally involved in putting the ensemble together and setting up the recording.

Should also put in a plug for Wollock's older article in the ARSC Journal from 1997 which provides a discography for European recordings 1911-1914 and provides a number of great details on the Belf Orchestra.

The journal (Spring 2003, Vol.34, no.1) may be ordered from the ASRC website. Although the website is unclear (new website early 2004), I have confirmed that the journal is $18 postpaid US. More for international orders - email folks with specifics from the webpage.

[I should note that I believe that this is the article I heard Dr. Wollock describe a couple of years ago which was inspired by the scene which opens Joel Rubin's book on klezmer - a scene which Wollock felt was unlikely and which proved, indeed, to be largely fictitious. Rubin had written about a secret session overshadowed by fear of the secret police in Stalinist Russia. Wollock found the original source (Rubin had not done so) and got the correct details about this fascinating session. Dangerously relying on old memory, what I remember was that the session, described in the Rubin book with great overtones of fear (not that this would have been misplaced in Stalin's Russia in general at that time - but it was an entirely wrong description of the atmosphere at this particular event) had been so secret and so closely guarded (not!), that two boys (one of them the source of information) playing across the street had seen musicians come to the studio and had wandered in to meet them. Ari]

Discography of early European Jewish recordings

Joel Bresler reports on the Jewish-music mailing list:

I am pleased to relate that my colleague Michael Aylward has started to publish some of the results of his impressive seven-year effort to compile a discography of commercial European Jewish recordings on cylinders and 78s. His article (title above) appears in Vol. 16 of "Polin, Studies in Polish Jewry", Oxford and Portland, OR, The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003.

He is covering traditional Jewish music, defined here as excluding performances in the classical tradition. So far, Michael has documented 5,500 recordings. It's well worth getting a copy of the article.

List members then came up with the following contact info: To get the volume of Polin look at the website of the publisher www.littman.co.uk, or, in the US, go through International Specialized Book Services (ISBS).

Itzik Gottesman then responds noting that there are several other interesting articles in the same journal:

Also of interest to our list in the recently published volume of Polin vol 16 in addition to Michael Aylward's important article are these articles:

  • Zev Feldman "Remembrance of Things Past: Klezmer Musicians of Galicia"
  • Ariela Krasny "The Badkhn: From Wedding Stage to Writing Desk"
  • Nathan Gross "Mordechai Gebirtig: The Folk Song and the Caberet Song"
  • Bret Werb and Barbara Milewski "From 'Madagascar' to Sachsenhausen: Singin about race in a Nazi Camp"
  • Yaakov Mazor "The Badkhn in Contemporary Hasidic Society: Social, Historical, and Musical Observations"
  • Alex Lubet "Transmigrations: Wolf Krakowski's Yiddish Worldbeat in its Social-Musical Context"
  • Ruth Ellen Gruber "The Krakow Jewish Culture Festival"

List members then came up with the following contact info: To get the volume of Polin look at the website of the publisher www.littman.co.uk, or, in the US, go through International Specialized Book Services (ISBS).

December 22, 2003

Brave Old World go Indie with "Bless the Fire"

album cover - a reminder that David Bold is so Seventies Seventies SeventiesJust in time for my sanity and pleasure, Alan Bern sends the following news

Just in time for Chanukah! The first new Brave Old World CD since 1997's "Blood Oranges" has just been released! Titled "Bless the Fire," it was recorded live in Weimar, Germany and captures some of the band's most lyrical and emotionally vital playing. Featuring new compositions by Alpert, Bern, Bjorling and Brotman, "Bless the Fire" is now available in the USA online only through CDbaby.com.

December 19, 2003

Sarah Aroeste interview on NPR

interesting letter on desert background"Morning Edition" on NPR this morning has a nice story on Ladino by Renee Montagne, which includes an interview with Sarah Aroeste, whose album, A La Una is one of my favorites this year.

The interview is called Ladino, the Language of Sephardic Jews.

Lost Platina tapes released

Just announced - one of my favorite mid-'70s Israeli performing bands - here's the press release:

A popular jazz group (think Perigeo, Dedalus, Wolfgang Dauner, ECM) whose members were Israel1s biggest names in jazz, "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" (1976) was The Platina's third album (recorded two years after their Newport Jazz Festival appearance). Unreleased until now, this 78-minute disk has the original mix-downs from the master tapes, live versions of the lost masters, and additional bonus tracks. Their best effort, the CD was released for a memorial concert for wind player & leader Roman Kunsman (1941-2002). Energetic, well-played, yet pastoral fusion. With their pianos (Fender Rhodes & acoustic), flute and wordless female vocals, Platina sound most like the mid-70's work of Hubert Laws on CTI. Fans of Kornet, Finnforest and Camel should like this.

For more information, or to order, contact Mio Records

Platina performing live

One of the delights of Israel in the mid-1970s was a jazz band called "The Platina." I believe I first heard them in a tiny jazz club in an ally behind Yafo Street in Jerusalem, run at the time by an American I had known through Young Judea, Charlie Fishman.

The band had some of the cool of ECM artists like Jan Garbarek, and a bit of jazz-rock fusion, but mostly it played a straight-ahead, entirely pleasurable jazz, driven by Aaron Kaminsky's incredible drumming and the flute of Roman Kunsman. The band released two albums, the second somewhat better than the first at capturing the excitement. Then it began performing a breakthrough program, "The Girl with the Flaxen Hair" based, in part, on some jazzed-up Debussy, and broke up before a CD could be released. For years I treasured a horrible copy captured through our mid-Seventies TV set to a portable cassette player.

In an interview at the time, Roman told me that one of the frustrations of leading a band in Israel was the fact that he simply couldn't get on a bus and tour the area, given the politics and hostility of the time. Later, he was in Moshe Berlin's wonderful klezmer ensemble, Sulam and recorded an album in New York. Drummer Kaminsky continued to perform widely in Israel, leading a Wednesday night jazz jam at Jerusalem's Pargod Theatre, on Bezalel St., for many years. Keyboard player Ilana Turel recorded widely, and other band alumni moved on to other projects. Kunsman passed away last year (2002).

-- ari davidow

For more information, or to order, contact Mio Records

Seth Rogovoy's seasonal CD roundup

From Seth Rogovoy, author of The Essential Klezmer:

My annual new Jewish music CD roundup in the Berkshire Eagle runs on Friday. It includes commentary on new and recent CDs by Jonathan Harkham and David Brook, Oi Va Voi, NOKAS, some anthologies, and some of the Milken Archive CDs.

You can read it here: New Jewish music CDs

Hannukah at the Phonoteqah

Francesco Spagnolo, who knows Italian Jewish music like none other, posts this to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

For those of you who are not (yet) familiar with the amazing collection of the Jerusalem "Phonoteqah," aka the National Sound Archives (NSA) of the Jewish National and University Library in Jerusalem, Hannukah is a perfect time to become acquainted with it.

I just checked the NSA Hannukah page at: jnul.huji.ac.il/dl/music/hanukkah and had the pleasure of finding a wonderful selection compiled by Ruti Freed.

Of course, the Italian-Ashkenazi "Ma'oz tzur" is included. This a very important melody, as "ancient" as they come. It takes us straight back to the time when German Jews were fleeing Germany and moving Southbound to Venice, Italy, and its environs....

You will find several tunes for candle lighting, five different versions of "Ma'oz tzur," a song in Yiddish and one in Ladino. All tunes come also as downloadable Mp3 files.

December 18, 2003

Catching up with Rainlore's articles, UK

Richard Sharma writes from the UK

Slowly catching up, and a few new reviews are up again on Rainlore's World of Music (www.rainlore.demon.co.uk).

There's Lloica Czackis' "Tangele - The Pulse of Yiddish Tango" performance at Union Chapel, London, in November, at: www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/Reviews/LloicaCzackis-Tangele091103.html and Daphna Sadeh And The Voyagers at the Brighton Festival of Jewish Music, also in November, at: www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/Reviews/DaphnaSadeh&Vgrs-Brighton101103.html

Both reviews are lavishly illustrated, no expense, hard work and sleepless nights spared. Both performances outstanding musical events, it was more than worth the effort.

There's also a long overdue book review of Gilad Atzmon's "A Guide To The Perplexed" www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/Reviews/GiladAtzmon-AGuideToThePerplexed-BookRev.html

Traditional Chanuka and Purim songs for piano

cover graphic?Just in time for Chanukah, Dovid Kanter announces an inexpensive book with 11 songs for Chanukah and Purim. You can find out more at his website, www.geocities.com/djkanter

Seth Rogovoy writes about Alicia Svigals

Seth writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

An article about klezmer fiddler Alicia Svigals by yours truly, advancing her concert and workshop at Spencertown (N.Y.) Academy on Saturday, runs today in the Berkshire Eagle.

You can read it at: Putting the fiddler back on the roof

new reviews on All About Jazz

Elliott Simon reports on some very nice new reviews in "All About Jazz:"

The December AAJ-NY is out with two reviews by yours truly...Klezmer Mountain Boys and Days of Awe...you can download the paper at www.allaboutjazz.com/newyork or check them out pre posting at Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys and The Days of Awe.

also one of our other writers has reviewed the new KCB at: A Taste of Paradise

December 5, 2003

Rogovoy on new Klezmatics/Guthrie collaboration

Seth Rogovoy has written an article about the new collaboration between the Klezmatics and Woody Guthrie, via Guthrie's daughter Nora. Those of us in the Boston area got to hear some of the new songs during a recent performance by Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg. The real deal, however, is the concert on Dec 20th in NYC

Read all about it in The Klezmatics uncover the Jewish Woody Guthrie, by Seth Rogovoy, originally published in the Berkshire Eagle on December 5, 2003.