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January 31, 2006

Tribute to Viktor Ullmann

recording of Ullmann's 2nd symphonyOkay, one more important article that has been waiting several months. Stewart Cherlin has been writing for the KlezmerShack since 1997. His most recent article is about the Czech composer, Viktor Ullmann, who composed some amazing music in Terezenstadt before being shipped off to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Those who heard the lecture on his music at the Milken Conference a couple of years ago, or who have been privileged to otherwise encounter his music know that this isn't just your average Schoenberg-student does 20th century shtick music—this is "stick it to the Nazis in full glorious and conscious defiance" music. Many thanks to Stewart for writing an article about the music, and this past summer's performances in Chicago. We've added some links to learn more about Ullmann, as well.

Read Viktor Ullmann Remembered: A review and article on Viktor Ullmann and his music, performed at the Ravinia Festival, written by Stewart I. Cherlin

January 30, 2006

di Fidl-Kapelye / Live in Amsterdam; review by Günther Schöller

album coverWhile I was out galivanting with work and otherwise pre-occupied, a really, really sweet, very old-style European klezmer album came in for review by the Amsterdam-based "Di Fidl Kapelye". Happily for the band, they were not forced to await my review: Günther Schöller, accordionist with Narishe Tantz posted a great review to the Jewish Music list back in April and sent me permission to post it to the KlezmerShack. That's long enough to wait. Read about Live in Amsterdam and pick up your own copy asap. We hope ya'll enjoy it as much as we did.

January 29, 2006

New KlezmerShack review: Panoramaland

lovely map of panoramalandIt has been many, many months since I've been able to find time for reviews. As I try to catch up, just a little bit, I find myself turning to one of the CDs that hasn't been waiting for months, but which has nonetheless insinuated itself onto my CD changer and refused to let go. Figures, of course. It's the New Orleans band, Panorama Jazz Band, and their new album is appropriately entitled, "Panoramaland." If you love Frank London's Klezmer Brass Band (review of the new Carnival Conspiracy coming very, very soon) or New Orleans Jazz or Zlatne Uste or just love to dance, this is a good place for reviews to start again.

Hankus Netsky on American Jewish Cultural History; course in Newton, MA begins Feb 13

Hankus Netsky at the Me'ah Graduate Institute

Hebrew College logoDr. Hankus Netsky is not only an internationally renowned Klezmer musician, but also a teacher with extensive knowledge in Jewish cultural history. In this course he will examine significant American Jewish creations across the spectrum of the arts. Together, you will explore the impact of major Jewish writers, musicians and performers on American culture.

This is a unique opportunity to study with someone who is both a scholar and an artist, considering all the variables of American Jewish culture. Do not miss it. The course description is below.

American Jewish Cultural History (HIST 104)
Hankus Netsky
10 sessions—$495
7:00–9:45 p.m. Mondays, beginning February 13, 2006
Hebrew College

To register, go to www.hebrewcollege.edu/mgiregister or call us at 617-559-8709. Please remember to use your Hebrew College ID# 10397.

Jews make up a small percentage of the American population, yet their impact on American culture has been significant. From movies to music, television to concert halls, American Jews have had an influence out of all proportion to their numbers. At the same time, a distinctively American-Jewish culture has developed with its own style and sensibility, recognizably American, but with a twist.

How have exemplary Jewish artists, musicians and writers negotiated the tensions between being an American and being a Jew? In this course we will examine great American Jewish creations in the fields of music, theatre, dance, literature and film. We will explore the artistic expressions of writers such as Sholem Aleichem and I. B. Singer, performers Molly Picon and Aaron Lebedoff, musicians Theodor Bikel and Shlomo Carlebach, and films like Yiddl Mitn Fidl and The Singing Backsmith. Amidst the many monumental landmarks of American history—American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great War and World War II, the Civil Rights Movement—Jews have been both American participants and Jewish respondents. The record of their response is American Jewish culture, the subject of this course.,/p>

Shai: Misc Pop Culture Entries Archives

Eva Broman passes another excellent link on to the Jewish-Music mailing list. Looks like a very neat blogger:

I don't know if I have posted this link before, but never mind. It's a link that goes to the Shai Israeli Pop Culture archives:


Lots of enlightening articles on Israeli old and new(er) popular culture there.

NEC to offer to courses on Eastern European Jewish Music starting Feb 14

New England Conservatory, 241 St. Botolph Street, Boston, presents two ten week courses with Instructor Yelena Neplok. "Eastern European Jewish Musical Traditions" runs on Wednesdays, February 15-May 3, 2006, from 7:00 -8:30 p.m. and "The Art of Russian Piano Music" runs on Tuesdays, February 14-April 25, 2006, from 7:00-8:30 p.m.

Registration starts on January 10th.
Financial Aid available—call 617-585-1125 to apply

For more information, contact the instructor at 617-566-7969 or E-mail Yelena Neplok

*Eastern European Jewish Musical Traditions

*10 Tuesdays: **7:00-8:30 PM***
*Spring: February 15 ­ **May 3, 2006***
This course introduces the unique musical heritage stemming from Jewish composers and their communities in pre-war Eastern Europe. Students will become aware of the uniqueness of Jewish folk music, connection between Jewish traditional and art music, Russian Jewish musical culture, famous cantors of the “Golden Age”, and great East European Jewish performers.

The course repertory includes different genres of Jewish traditional instrumental music, Jewish folk songs in Yiddish and Hebrew, Synagogue music, and art songs and significant instrumental pieces by the most prominent Russian Jewish 19^th and 20^th century composers.

Each class includes a lecture-demonstration by the instructor Yelena Neplok, the critically acclaimed, award-winning pianist, artist-in-residence at Hebrew College, and the founder and artistic director of the renowned Nigun Chamber Ensemble.

Students have the opportunity to perform in class and participate in a closing concert.

Vocalists, instrumentalists, and all interested public are welcome.

*The Art of Russian Piano Music*

*10 Tuesdays: **7:00-8:30 PM***
*Spring: February 14 - **April 25, 2006***
This course will describe Russian musical culture and piano music from the end of the 18th century through the mid-20th century: the formation of a Russian piano school, the development of a nationalist musical culture, traditions of Russian piano performance and pedagogy, and famous interpretations by great Russian pianists. Students will discover the music and piano style of Glinka, Anton Rubinstein, the “Mighty Five” (Balakirev, Cui, Mussorsky, Borodin, and Rimsky-Korsakov), Tchaikovsky, Liadov, Scriabin, Rachmaninoff, Prokofiev, and Shostakovich. Each class will include lecture-demonstrations by concert pianist Yelena Neplok, analyses of selected popular repertoire, and in-class discussion. There will also be reading and listening assignments.

Tuition for NEC School of Continuing Education is $325 - for non credit, and $450 for the credit.

Musique ensemble XX, South of France, 19-26 Aug

workshop logoOur Music school is organizing a Klezmer summer school in the south of france, from the 19th to the 26th of august in a gorgeous place. This summer session is open to adults who want to play music in a band, conducted by an experienced clarinet professor. There will be a concert at the end of the week in the village nearby. For food, lodging and music course it costs 500 euros. All details are on our website. musique-ensemble.com
Tel: 33 1 43 61 52 88
E-mail Arielle Zajde for further info.

KlezKamp Photos online

pete rushefsky on tsimblThe amazing Bob Blacksberg has posted a first look at selected photos from KlezKamp 2005 and the New Year's eve performance at Makor.


January 28, 2006

Frank London interviewed about his "Carnival Conspiracy"

album coverFrom the folks at Piranha music comes the interview with the wonderfully prolific Frank London

Remember where you read it first! It needed a Frank London to reveal to the world that Carnival is the ultimate Jewish conspiracy. Was this the reason why his new CD "Carnival Conspiracy" was instantly garnished with the TOP OF THE WORLD recommendation of Songlines? Why do we receive a tsunami of enthusiastic reviews floating our office? If you have missed his APAP showcase in New York last weekend, come to Porto Musical in Recife/Brazil for his pre-carnival performances and find out more what it is all about. Other answers in "Party Until You Are Beyond Rationality", an interview with Frank on http://www.worldmusiccentral.org/article.php/20060116111349755

Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy. In the Marketplace all is Subterfuge. CD-PIR1902 OUT NOW

The Rabbi Basement Tapes

Elliott Simon writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Hi all....Much to my surprise I saw an article in the Forward today regarding the famous/infamous Rabbi Basement Tapes that were recorded 1953-1954 by ethnomusicologist/filmmaker Harry Smith and are Yiddish songs sung by Rabbi Nuftali Zvi Margolies Abulafia...these have never been released...see Forward article here

I remembered enjoying a program on WFMU (a free form radio station in NJ that I have listened to since the 1960s) that played many of these songs..all told there is a 15 Lp unreleased set...you can hear that program here on www.wfmu.org/listen.ram?show=11276&drop=9

January 27, 2006

Hip Hop Hoodíos nominated for two "Jammy" awards

album coverpassing on an important announcement from the pinche Hoodíos:

The Hip Hop Hoodíos, your favorite Latino-Jewish urban music collective have received TWO nominations for the first-ever "Jammy," the Jewish answer to the Grammy Awards (other nominees include the Beastie Boys, Matisyahu, Guster, and Subliminal). It turns out that Jvibe Magazine launched the campaign for the “Jammy” after being disgusted by the fact that there are currently no less than eight Grammy categories for Christian music, and zero categories for Jewish music. Did the Grammy folks fall asleep at the wheel and fail to notice that Hasidic reggae singer Matisyahu recently sold 300,000 copies of his latest album? Kudos to Jvibe, we applaud your efforts to bring attention to the diversity of good Jewish music being made around the globe.

We hope you'll take a moment to let the Jammy organizers know that you're digging our trilingual mayhem. Hoodíos is nominated in the "Best Jewish Group" and "Best Jewish Album" categories. Please click on the link further below and cast your votes......


New Reviews by George Robinson begin with a "Plea for Peace"

What's this? Another set of very spiffy reviews from George Robinson: Living In The Hyphen: In keeping with tradition, the latest Jewish music merges genres and cultures, in the Jewish Week, 27 Jan 2006. He starts off with the new CD by the Afro-Semitic Experience, "Plea for Peace" and ranges from there. Enjoy!

January 2, 2006

Goodbye 2005, hello 2006, still the same old 5766

Well, it's that day of the year when I make an archival copy of the website and reflect on the year that has passed. It is worth noting, I guess, that in a year in which I have not managed to review a new CD since March, the website is nonetheless about 200MB larger (compressed, even!) than it was last year. I might also add that this has been an incredibly exciting year, musically, so I feel like a real turkey having been too distracted and too busy to write about it.

Some of the new volume on the website is explained by the addition of the email database—one day to be the germ of a whole set of database-backed directories. The rest? I dunno. I'm pretty sure that email addresses are no longer getting sucked up by spammers, but I also know that the script I am using seems to be a bit, um, tempermental. Revisions will be coming.

I have also straightened out the new Jewish music review pile, noted a few CDs that have gone missing (hullo? who borrowed the new Frank London? who gave you permission to forget the Ruth Yaakov CD upstairs?) and actually wrote half of a new review this evening before the phone rang. The email inbox is down from nearly 400 messages to a third of that volume. The calendar and listings think that they are caught up—if you have sent in an event, and it isn't listed on the calendar, send me a reminder. If you asked for a listing, or modified an existing one, and those changes didn't happen, also send me a reminder. I am otherwise under the illusion that all is well.

I am tremendously excited by the one remaining KlezmerShack anniversary event: a mini-Jewish music festival, taking place on March 25th and 26th, with lots of music, a Klezmer Conservatory Band alumni old home week, and a slew of nifty workshops. As it sinks in how much work I should have done over the last six months, I expect that this event will eat away at time I might have had to catch up further. Somehow, I will do both.

The most exciting part of this year, however, has been listening to new music: cuts from the new DJ SoCalled album (still to be released), and the latest Matisyahu album, and those incredible Frank London projects (Chazzones and the Brass AllStars "Carnival Conspiracy") and some incredible rereleases including an Alberto Hemsi recording. Brave Old World finally released the Lodz Ghetto CD and it is even better than I remember. Hip Hop Hoodios released a full album. Khupe released another divine album, "eyns, tsvey, dray." Less-well known bands from around the world: Tummel from Scandinavia, the Freilachmakers from California, Spiel Azoi and Soleluna from Australia and a host of other bands, great and not so great have released memorable music that I hope to write about very, very soon.

After all of these years and all of these arguments about "what is Jewish music," though. I feel that this year we have gotten a neat wakeup as to how that changes. It's like it must have felt in Bagdad a thousand years ago when folks started singing religious hymns to the local maqam and the rabbis were horrified at those non-Jewish sounds taking over. Now it's everything from Lubavitch hip hop and reggae to veterans of Guster and the Zambonis writing secular pop songs about how to spell Hanukah (the LeeVees, god bless them). I haven't listened to so much music so close to the pop charts in years, and I'm loving it.

So, what impressed you about this year's music? What Jewish music made you excited?

Matisyahu videos

You know that the world is changing when your rabbi forwards you links to Matisyahu videos: www.matismusic.com/video/Matisyahu_KingWithoutACrown_StudioNL_VidFull.mov

Jewschool came up with a link to his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show a few months ago, as well, while the Albany Times Union published Jewish music strikes a mainstream chord: Hasidic reggae, hip-hop artists inspire a following by melding roots, genres, by Ann Miller, back on October 12. Enjoy.

"Dreydl" makes Austin TV news

band photoMark Rubin hands off bass-playing duties to another band member as he takes vocals and guitar duties in this rooftop performance of the Hanukah classic: www.news8austin.com/content/top_stories/?ArID=152571. If you wonder what Bob Wills might have sounded like, had he been Jewish, this is the clip for you.