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December 31, 2004

Folksbiene looking for singer/actor/dancers; auditions NYC Jan 6

folksbiene logoCasting notice for our Spring Mainstage production "On Second Avenue" Starring Mike Burstyn. Would it be possible to post this anywhere the Yiddish/Klezmer community would see it? We are looking for singer/actor/dancers.

Gabriel Feinberg
Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre

AEA & NON, On Second Avenue

The Folksbiene Yiddish Theatre is casting "On Second Avenue", a music revue starring Mike Burstyn.

Auditions 1/6
callbacks 1/7
rehearsals start 1/24
first preview 2/20
closes 4/10.

Director: Bryna Wasserman
Musical director: Zalmen Mlotek.


Males—strong musical theater singing background. All ranges needed.

Females—strong musical theater singing background. Belters and legit needed. Must have ability to sing convincingly in Yiddish.

(Note: If you speak Yiddish but are not right for any of the above roles, please submit anyway, as we are casting other projects as well.) Please note Yiddish skills on submission. Please bring an uptempo and a ballad to your appointment.

Send a.s.a.p. to Casting, Folksbiene Yiddish Theater, 45 East 33rd St., New York, NY 10016.


December 26, 2004

Bnai Brith Radio, from the Forward

You have to register for the Forward (free, but a pain) to access this, but there is an interesting article on the new B'nai Brith Radio:

"B'nai B'rith International, a 161-year-old nonprofit organization and charity, is hardly known as a hip haven through which the new generation can connect to Jewish culture. That could change, however, if the organization makes the desired impact with its new 24/7, Internet-based Jewish-music radio station, www.bnaibrithradio.org....." All Jews, All the Time: A New Radio Station Seeks Young Listeners Around the World, by Karen Iris Tucker, in the Dec. 24th issue.

December 21, 2004

Metashvili on the road: Review of Burning Bush, live in York, UK

Nan Metashvili caught Burning Bush in York, UK, at a sold out concert on Dec 12, 2004. A former resident of Alaska, she is in the UK prior to traveling on the West Africa.

Much surprised to realize that we have never mentioned Burning Bush on the KlezmerShack before, except on our calendar. Our family saw the band back in 2000 or so in London, at Barbican Hall (sp?), but felt that the music was a bit too homogenized for our taste. The show was quite visually interesting, though. (For context, we were blown away by the Argentinian duo, Lerner and Moguilevsky, who played in the lobby prior to Burning Bush, and returned to the hall later that month to catch John Zorn with Fred Frith in my all-time favorite Zorn concert, and one of my all-time favorite concerts ever.)

The KlezmerShack did link to a review of a different concert by Burning Bush written by Richard Sharma, who has been missing in cyberspace for several months. I hope that it is only computer problems that are keeping him out of sight.

December 20, 2004

Wonderful rant on Carlebach jam bands

I had no idea! Although I have long been horrified by the idea of kids hiring a DJ instead of a real band for simkhas, I assumed that was a partially-assimilated Jewish suburbs kind of thing. Once again, I rely on the esteemed Blog in Dm for the scoop.

Tofuhut on Brandwein

There is a very interesting passage about Naftule Brandwein and klezmer on the TofuHut, an very interesting-looking blog that seems to put up a lot of MP3s for a limited time. The Brandwein discussion, of course, has a link to one of his recordings. There is a nice link to the KlezmerShack, too, which I appreciate:

The TofuHut, then search for "klezmer".

Eight Days of Jewish Music Reviews, by George Robinson

It was too big to fit uncut into the Jewish Week for which it was written, so we are making the complete column by George Robinson available here on the Klezmershack: Eight Nights of Hanukah, the Annual Survey, by George Robinson.

December 19, 2004

Yet more new reviews

Once I got started, it was hard to stop. I've rearranged all of my stacks of review CDs. I'm not sure it helps, but it feels like I'm keeping up some variety :-).

Zorn album coverAs part of the 10th anniversary of the Masada stuff, Zorn has been releasing some wonderful compilations and tribute albums. On John Zorn / Voices in the Wilderness we get to hear a new takes on over 20 Zorn Masada compositions. This is an incredibly rich two-CD set.

Krakauer album coverIt seems to be really difficult for bands that started playing klezmer, and then moved on, to admit it. In Huljet's case, the new music is very interesting. It just doesn't happen to be klezmer. Don't let that stop you from listening. Huljet! / Meschugge

Abayudaya band album coverRabbi Jeffrey Summit, a major mensch generally found directing Hillel activities at Tufts University, recently recorded music by the Abayudaya Jews in Uganda. It is a wonderful amalgam of African music, Hebrew, and even a few traditional mainstream Jewish melodies that have crept in. The Abayudaya are sort of the Khazars of Africa. Abayudaya - Music from the Jewish People of Uganda. Note that this has also been nominated for a Grammy. Vote early and vote often.

Krakauer album coverQuite simply Niki Jacobs has one of the nicest voices for singing Yiddish I've heard in a long time. Nikitov / Amulet

Mazel Tov Orchestra album coverIt's been something like 30 years since the first "Kol B'Seder" album. There have been lots more since, and the songs hold up very well. Jewish folksong liturgy is an established part of Reform liturgy and has influenced liturgy in other denominations. Kol B'Seder / Snapshots

Matisyahu, Hip Hop Hoodios live video links

matisyahuBoth Matisyahu and the Hip Hop Hoodíos were in Paris this fall. You can view parts of each concert over the web, courtesy Claude Szwimer. Many thanks!

Matisyahu live, from Nov 11, La Scene Bastille, Paris. It looks like this is the encore.

Hip Hop Hoodíos live, from Dec 11, La Scene Bastille, Paris. This is their song about 1492.

I don't know who the violinist is on the Paris backup band, but she solos on both of these recordings and she is incendiary—a young Alicia Svigals. Estelle Goldfarb? perhaps? Keep your eyes and ears open.

Something Jewish Chanuka radio special still available

Leslie Bunder writes the Jewish-Music list:

For those who didn't get an opportunity to listen to the SomethingJewish Chanukah special which went out today, I have now uploaded it to one of my servers where you can listen to it.


It should automatically select 12 Dec 04 show.

This uses a flash based player which should work for most web browsers.

From hip hop and classical to heavy metal and punk, this was one of our most diverse shows and was a total celebration of all aspects of Jewish music reflecting Chanukah.

Leslie and his partner present a lively, wonderful array of music, including some surreal "make it up as we go along" information such as Woody Guthrie's Judaism and ongoing digs about the UK's Chief Rabbi. Let it not get in anyone's way. This is a lot of fun.

One of the best cuts, of course, is this year's Chanuka hit, a take-off on Outkast, by Eric Schwartz. Leslie notes an interview he did with Mr. Schwartz on the "Something Jewish" UK website: Eric Schwartz interview, by Leslie Bunder.

You'll be confused reading the interview if you haven't already heard the song or best, seen the flash movie set by someone apparently unfamiliar with Jewish customs: Take a look at this and smile.

And, of course, Eric Schwartz' Suburbanhomeboy.com website.

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.

December 15, 2004

David Stein, z"l

Teresa Tova writes the Jewish-Music list:

It is with great sorrow that we were informed of the passing of David A. Stein on Sunday, December 12, 2004. David was an incredible and talented young filmmaker who created the Toronto Jewish Festival trailers for the last three years. His films, many of which premiered at the TJFF, include: NEEDLE AND "TREAD", KHASENJAH: A JAMAICAN JEWISH WEDDING and ISRAEL'S NUCLEAR SPY; MORDECHAI VANUNU. We will remember David for his wonderful smile, his generosity of spirit, and his creative vision. He is profoundly missed.

Mel Korn provided the URL for at least one of these works: the short video, "KhasenJah," the first music video of Toronto's "Beyond the Pale"

www.beyondthepale.net/ChasenJah.ram (or http://www.beyondthepale.net/AudioVideo.php, down at the bottom of the page, for all options)

December 13, 2004

Call for entries: Cracow Jewish Culture Festival

15th Jewish Culture Festival
June 25th - July 3rd 2005

[2004-08-16] 15th Jewish Culture Festival will be held between June 25th and July 3rd 2005. We would like to invite musicians, bands, filmmakers and all interested in participation in the next edition of the Festival to send the promotional materials to our office: Jewish Culture Festival, Ul. Józefa 36, 31-056 Kraków, Poland. Deadline for sending the materials is December 31st 2004.


Art of Yiddish set to open in LA, Dec 19 - 25

This year, Make it a real holiday -
Come explore the riches of Yiddish culture -
Farbreng mit undz oyf yidish

The California Institute for Yiddish Culture & Language announces its
5th Annual Winter Yiddish Intensive:

The Art of Yiddish: A Bridge of Light Around the World
Di Kunst fun Yidish: A likht-brik arum der velt
December 19-25, Los Angeles (at Skirball Cultural Center)
E-mail Yiddish Institute.

Come for the week, for a day (December 19), or attend individual cultural

December 12, 2004

Loolwa Khazoom on Jewish Hip Hop

album coverWhen I reviewed the new Celebrate Hip Hop CD, I was speaking from a limited knowledge of Hip Hop. Loolwa Khazoom offers a much deeper perspective, in this article from the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, Hip-Hop's Jew Crew Takes Center Stage

Matisyahu clip - singing and some interview

This came to the Jewish-Music mailing list, via Jewsweek, although I can't find it now.

It's a link to a bit of video featuring Hassidic rap reggae artist Matisyahu on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Has a nice bit of his reggae-flavored rap, and a bit of an interview with him. Nice, especially if, like me, you missed him in Boston Thursday night and wanted to get a sense of what this phenomenon is about.

December 11, 2004

Weekend Edition's "goyish" take on new "Chanukah Music"

Okay, NPR's Weekend Edition this week featured a lot of neat Chanukah Stories. They also featured reviews of new Jewish music by Tom Pryor from Global Rhythm Magazine, who has great taste in music, but didn't seem to know much about Chanukah or other things Jewish. So, I wrote them a letter


I really enjoy the Weekend Edition show, and I really enjoyed most of this week's show that featured many stories about Chanukah (or Hanukah or whatever). But Tom Pryor's Klezmer Picks were a bit jarring.

Overall, I really liked his voice, and he certainly picked interesting music, but the fact that he doesn't know Jewish music, doesn't know how to pronounce Jewish words (the Hebrew/Yiddish word for pig is pronounced khhhhhhhhazir - with the first sound resembling the German pronunciation of "ch". The first character does not resemble "ch" in the English word "cheese"), and doesn't know much about Jewish culture, religion, history, etc., made for some interesting anomolies.

This is a time when there is an explosion of interesting and very, very exciting music with roots in the American Jewish klezmer revival of 20 years ago. It being Chanukah, the brand new "Pincus and the Pig" is a wonderful choice, and would certainly be on my list of CDs to consider for such a review. Had I not seen Glenn Dickson just last night, I might have believed that the band really was from Ohio as Tom claimed. In point of fact, they are one of the reasons I moved to Boston (where they are based) and they even played at my wedding.

Then, there is the segment on Golem. The band =is= interesting (I'm hoping to see them tonight). Tom spoke at length about Annette Ezekiel's research into Jewish roots. This is a good thing, and does show her commitment to the music, but it is also not so unusual and might not have wanted to be presented as such. (Of course, a casual listen to many Tzadik titles, not to mention "Jewish" music by folks such as the alleged Rebbe of Soul with the Hebrew words gloriously misspelled indicates that a more-than-casual awareness of Jewish culture is less usual than I might have expected. Maybe I'm being harsher on Tom than I should be.) What does matter, in my never humble opinion, is the way that the traditional music has been processed through the band's punk intent (the word "authentic" that he stressed here is both true and absurd at the same time), and the result is something new that also matches a "Generation J" sensibility. By me, this is a good thing. The band's name, by the way, is pronounced "Go-Lem", the golem being a myth from the Middle Ages about an automaton created from clay, using mysticism, and which protected the Jews. The word is not pronounced "Gollum" like the character in Lord of the Rings. (Klezmershack review, their latest, Homesick songs). On second thought, Golem is a good choice, although I have some alternatives, below, that I'd also want to consider.

Although, there is something really neat about doing punk takes on Eastern European Jewish music, and catching that spirit of deconstruction and making something new and American that has roots in Jewish culture. I would have been very tempted to talk about Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh, which contains a fascinating mixture of Jewish music melded into some wonderful avant garde sounds. What makes Alexander's album so fascinating is that, like Golem's Ezekiel, Alexander is making new music based on very deep knowledge of mainstream American Jewish culture, prayer, and music, and then creating something fantastic and new and edgy. To me, Alexander's music speaks to the heart of what it means to live in a world where one is trying to balance multiple realities: Jewish, American, Jazz, Bagels, Mysticism, Intermarriage, the Yankees, and pulls it together in ways that are always exciting, and that prove that working on that balance is fun and worth doing - here, certainly worth listening to.

I have to admit, too, that I wouldn't have focused on Septeto Rodriguez for this broadcast. I love his music, love the new album (and will probably review it soon) and I reviewed the first glowingly, as well. But it's the sort of music that is more interesting to people listening for interesting world music (I think that Tom totally missed the way that Latin beats had become a part of Jewish weddings of a certain period—Rodriguez' liner notes are a good intro, but not the whole story. One could no more have a vintage American Jewish wedding without the rhumba than "hava nagila." And it's still true to a degree.) So, fusing latin rhythms with traditional Jewish music is a natural. But, for me, the bigger excitement came with the release of Rodriguez' first album a year or two ago. Now, there is other music that is new and exciting.

What is exciting when I am thinking about that fusion of Latin rhythm with Jewish music would be a hard choice between the Puerto Rican Jewish hiphop band, Los Hoodíos (whose take on the Chanukah song, "Ocho Kandelikos" has been anthologized _everywhere_). The Hoodios even have a Chanukah special where people can get their new release, scheduled to reach stores in March, in time for the holiday via their website. Equally exciting is a dynamite singer named Sarah Aroeste who grew up singing Ladino song (music of Sephardic Jews—Jews primarily from North Africa and the Moslem World) and has done an album setting that music to the most amazing current dance music. She'll be going into the studio this winter to record the follow-up. We've actually been giving copies of both of these CDs to all of our friends. They are that exciting and that new—and, in many ways, among the most exciting children of the klezmer revival. As musicians began exploring their Jewish roots, they became aware of the fact that there are Jewish cultures beyond Eastern Europe. This helped fuel a huge ferment in all Jewish music traditions, and now the kids of this ferment are making their own music, leading to a world in which you can walk down the street and hear everything from Bukharan rhythms to Sarah Aroeste to Golem.

But, this is Chanukah. So while I might have chosen Pincus, or Aaron Alexander, or the Hoodíos or Sarah Aroeste, as fun and interesting new Jewish music, I would also have looked at music specific to the season. There are a couple of recordings this year that really deserved mention on the holiday. The first one that would have come to mind is a new collaboration between New York's edge Klezmer-Rock-everything music group, the Klezmatics", with the estate of Woody Guthrie, where they have set several of Woody's Jewish songs to music. (Woody Guthrie? Jewish songs? Therein lies a wonderful tale—Arlo Guthrie's mother was the daughter of a wonderful, famous Yiddish poet.) The band has released a limited edition recording of the songs, complete with a cover that can be folded to make a dreidl, the spinning top used in popular Chanukah children's games. Seth Rogovoy wrote about the collaboration. You can read more about the Chanukah recording on the Klezmershack.

And finally, I'd have really wanted to mention the new CD from Washingto, DC-based Hungry for Music. "[Their] primary mission is to inspire disadvantaged children (and others) by bringing positive musical and creative experiences into their lives". They have just released "A Chanukah Feast", as a fundraiser fundraiser for their cause. The contents range from traditional children's music for the holiday, to "Honky Tonk Hanukah", to the aforementioned hip hop version of the Sephardic folksong "Ocho Kandelikos" (8 candles), to a Chanukah take on gospel, "These Chanukah Lights are a sign" to a perfect a capella version of "Maoz Tzur", the hymn sung as the candles are lit. I especially liked that last song, by a band called "Makela" (hebrew for "song group"), which closes the album because a capella singing groups, and especially, a capella Jewish song groups, have become the main Jewish music mainstay of college campuses. This cut may not be particularly edgy, but it's much fun, and that's what the holiday is about, no?

In summary, none of the albums that Tom selected is bad. All were interesting music and deserved publicity. Maybe the problem is just that there is too much good music, and that perhaps a Chanukah music show might focus on the holiday, and that this could be done better by someone who knows what that means, or can at least pronounce the words. We Jews aren't sufficiently exotic that our culture needs to be treated at quite so much distance. (Would that be true of anyone in this age of the Global Village?)

I guess this is late for this year, and in any event, this is probably less choate than I might have sent had I not started typing as soon as the show was over, but I do hope that you will continue to occasionally talk about Jewish music—I hereby volunteer to offer suggestions—or, if not me—perhaps it could be Seth Rogovoy who has written a book about klezmer, or George Robinson who writes for the Jewish Week and other publications or Elliott Simon who has already written about the new Klezmatics/Woody Guthrie Chanukah album—just, perhaps, let the reviews be by someone who actually knows what "Jewish" is and can pronounce Jewish words!


P.S. I suppose I should also make a couple of extra suggestions for a show on Jewish music in this season. For one thing, New York's Knitting Factory will again be holding some wonderful avant garde Jewish fare around the time of the well-known holiday at the end of the month, mostly featuring a show called "What I like about Jew". And, for nearly 20 years, those interested in Jewish music of a klezmer variety have been able to spend the week surrounding Christmas at the venerable, wonderful, and iconoclastic "KlezKamp" shut up in the Catskills with hundreds of klezmer musicians and afficionados for an entire week. I just thing that a segment about Jewish music at this time of year by someone familiar with the Jewish community might mention these two items, along with the new recordings. So, I'll mention them here, online.

To the readers of this edited letter online—what three picks would you make right now for such a show? What are your three (or more) favorites for 2004, and why?

December 8, 2004

And now, for Chanukah

Bruce Roter posts to the Jewish-music mailing list

A joyous Hanukkah to all! Please feel free to visit my website and hear my new version of Maoz Tzur recently published: www.bruceroter.com/Maoz%20Tzur.html

Best wishes,
Bruce Craig Roter, Composer

December 7, 2004

First round Klezmershack "klezcontacts" update completed

All e-mail addresses of people listing on the Klezmershack's main page, the "Klezcontacts page, have been contacted for confirmation. Some addresses bounced. Those were removed immediately. Lots of people responded - those folks are high on my personal popularity list and their e-mail addresses are now in a backed--up database. Lots of folks also provided backup: Ethan Minovitz, one of the KlezmerShack's earliest correspondents still knows everyone in Vancouver and how to reach them.

Some people never responded. Maybe it's the holiday. Maybe it's accounts that are never checked, or over-eager spam filters. At some point, hopefully by the end of the year, I will switch to a new page, driven entirely by the database. (Between now and then, I am recoding some parts of this based on my experience so far.) At that point, the non-respondents listings disappear.

This is not a bad thing. The goal of the klezmershack listings is to list people who are both interested in Jewish music, and who respond to e-mail. It is unfair, even cruel to list people as though inviting conversation or contact when those conversations will remain one-sided.

I am thinking of a new name for the listings that will make it clear that this is for everyone interested in Jewish music, not just klezmorim. If you have a suggestion, e-mail me.

If you think you are/were listed on the KlezmerShack, and haven't heard from me, something has gone wrong. Search for your listing or send me e-mail right away.

And, of course, if you are active, or actively interested in Jewish music, and wish to be listed, send me a paragraph about yourself, including contact info, and I'll be glad to add you to the database. If you wish to have a radio show, organization, band, or anything else related to Jewish music listed, we usually have a category, or can make one. Send me the info. Like participation in the Jewish-Music mailing list, this is one more way to particpate in the Jewish Music community at large. If all goes well, more are coming in the new secular year. In the meantime, have fun and Happy Chanukah.

December 2, 2004

German Record Critics award to Solomon & Socalled

The highly prestigious annual is normaly something for the creme de la creme of classical music stars. In a surprising move Piranha's next generation of Klezmer won it for last year's release HIPHOPKHASENE. "This work of great chutzpah and genius" (DJ Max Reinhardt) brings together a remarkable cast of musicians, including David Krakauer, Frank London, Michael Albert and Smadj, turning an authentic Eastern European Jewish wedding, the khasene, into a hiphop extravaganza complete with old-school Yiddish freestylin' on the mike.

Congrats to Sophie and Josh and the rest of the crew!