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April 30, 2006

7th Annual Washington, DC Jewish Music Festival, May 16 - 24

Another entry in the "most major cities, other than Boston, seem to be celebrating the diversity of Jewish culture with regular music festivals on an annual basis" department. Washington, DC, seems to do a nice job—and there doesn't seem to be a problem here (just as there is no problem in Berkeley, CA or other cities) with the JCC being the appropriate community host. Hmmmm.

festival posterThe Seventh Annual Washington Jewish Music Festival
Rhythm en Route
May 16 through May 24

A diverse musical journey filled with tunes and artists from the far corners of the world and those close to home. Tickets are on sale now!

Click here for the Festival line-up

The Psalms of Ali Ufki, now on CD

Noam Sender, who I know from his impeccable taste in concerts to sponsor, and from his inspired drumming during services at Congregation Beth Zion, writes:

Dear friends:

I am pleased to announce the release of our CD titled “The Psalms of Ali Ufki”.

This Dunya release presents an interfaith concert of sacred music exploring the shared traditions of Judaism, Turkish Sufism, Greek Orthodoxy and Protestant Christianity. It includes 17th c. psalm settings in French and Latin, Hassidic nigguns, Turkish Maftirim songs in Hebrew, Greek Orthodox hymns, Turkish Sufi songs and instrumental music. The concert was recorded live at the Fogg Art Museum at Harvard University on April 2005.

You can now purchase the CD on line by visiting our store at www.dunyainc.org (click Dunya store on left). Feel free to browse the site for past or upcoming events. Your interest and support are very much appreciated.

Klezmer-Paris 2006, Jul 6-10

Klezmer Paris 2006
à Paris du 6 au 10 juillet 2006
Paris, July 6 to 10, 2006

Bibliothèque Medem-Maison de la Culture Yiddish
18, passage saint-Pierre Amelot
75011 Paris
Tél : 01 47 00 14 00
Fax : 01 47 00 14 47
E-mail : medem@yiddishweb.com


Ce stage de cinq jours consiste en trois cursus parallèles de musique Klezmer, chanson Yiddish et nigunim, et de danse juive d’Europe orientale, animés par des musiciens de renommée internationale. Il met l’accent sur l’interaction entre la pratique musicale d’une part, et l’histoire et la spiritualité juives d’autre part, et propose aux participants de se confronter avec le jeu sur scène. Le stage est ouvert à tout public à partir de l’âge de 9 ans, professionnels ou non.

This five-day course offers three concurrent programs, in Klezmer music, Yiddish songs and traditional melodies, and Eastern European Jewish dance, all led by internationally famous musicians. With an emphasis on the interaction between musical practice and Jewish history and spirituality, participants are encouraged to experience the realities of performing with an audience. This course is open to the general public from the age of 9 on, professional musicians or amateurs.


April 16, 2006

The writeups: The 2006 Boston Jewish Music mini-fest/KCB Reunion/KlezmerShack 10th Anniversary celebration

KlezmerShack 10th AnniversaryIt took Passover to find time to do it. Now that I've taken down the storm windows, picked up some mulch for the yard, I can sit down and write. So, not only have I written about the KCB Reunion, but so have Dena Ressler (originally posted to the Jewish Music list) and Nancy Metashvili (email to friends).

I also want to acknowledge the few volunteers whose names I have: Ruby, Dena Ressler, Freddie, Becky Kaplan, Marc Adler, the workshop leaders, and all the volunteers whose names I don't have. Ya'll made it possible, and made the event a pleasure.

In the meantime, of course, planning is proceeding on next year's festival. Drop me a line if you'd like to be involved.

April 15, 2006

Klezfest 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jun 17-22, 2006

festival photo

The Center for Jewish Music of the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg is proud to announce "KlezFest St. Petersburg 2006," an international seminar on the traditional music of Eastern European Jewry, to be held June 17-22, 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg via email or visit our site www.klezfest.ru.
Phones: +7 812 713 3889, 571 6440

For advice on travel and visa arrangements, contact our American sponsor, the Jewish Community Development Fund in Russia and Ukraine, a project of the American Jewish World Service (New York), via telephone: (+1-212) 273-1642, or AJWS New York.

festival logo"KlezFest St. Petersburg," now in its 10th year, is the oldest klezmer seminar in Russia. The 2006 festival will include master-classes on Yiddish folk songs and klezmer music, workshops on Yiddish folklore and Yiddish dance, lectures, concerts, and two excursions: "Jewish St. Petersburg" and "Rivers and Canals of St. Petersburg." Our staff will include world-famous musicians -- from New York, the violinist, accordion player, vocalist, ethnomusicologist and the world's leading expert on Yiddish dance, Michael Alpert; also from New York, the vocalist from the famous Klezmatics group, Lorin Sklamberg; from Berlin, the outstanding klezmer clarinetist, Christian Dawid, from Montreal, the master of hip-hop klezmer, composer, vocalist and DJ Josh "Socalled" Dolgin, and others.

"KlezFest St. Petersburg," dedicated to bringing klezmer music and Yiddish culture back to the land of their birth, includes Jewish musicians from the vibrant centers of the Jewish renaissance throughout the former Soviet Union.

This year again we are pleased to announce a special program for lovers of Yiddish music and culture from other parts of the globe. We are asking for a contribution of $700. This sum will include food and lodging in St. Petersburg for 6 days and the entire seminar program, including interpreters when needed, concerts and two excursions. Participants will pay for their own transportation to St. Petersburg.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg via email or visit our site www.klezfest.ru.
Phones: +7 812 713 3889, 571 6440

For advice on travel and visa arrangements, contact our American sponsor, the Jewish Community Development Fund in Russia and Ukraine, a project of the American Jewish World Service (New York), via telephone: (+1-212) 273-1642, or AJWS New York.

Join us at "KlezFest St. Petersburg" this summer! If you haven't been on the Neva River during White Nights with Russian klezmorim, you haven't lived!

April 12, 2006

A Happy Klezmer Passover to all

Here are three fun seder music things (and some bonus factoids) in honor of tonight's seder.

What I like about Jew is a new Jewish satire group that sounds kind of funny, the way that the Leevees were funny—"we don't know anything about being Jewish that we like, but we kind of like being Jewish and poking fun." My memory suggests that one of the duo, Rob Tannenbaum, is also the author of the hit single, "Hanuka with Monica" from a few years ago. You can hear a song off their first CD, and an interview with Terry Gross, at www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5336255.

new album coverIt's been a few years since DJ SoCalled released the original Hip Hop Seder. That was pretty neat. I think that after the runaway success of the HipHopHasene album, SoCalled got signed to JDub—home of Balkan Beat Box and original home of Matisyahu, and got to remake this. Either I didn't remember how good the original was, or the remake is pretty extraordinary, or both. It features the usual crowd, from David Krakauer to Matisyahu. This is worth playing to get the family ready tonight, or anytime during the year when you need a slight reconstruction of what "seder" means.

It wouldn't be Passover if we didn't mention the crossover hit by one of our favorite klezmer bands, Maxwell Street Klezmer's "Matzorena".

And finally, Inna Barmash just posted to the Jewish-Music list:

The New Yorker on Gershon Kingsley's Haggadah Da-Vida

"Most Jewish music—'My Yiddishe Mama,' 'Sunrise, Sunset'—is hardly music you race to listen to on a voluntary basis," Bennett said. "And then you hear Gersh, sounding a little bit Kraftwerk, with a dash of Styx thrown in for good measure. If this was playing in synagogue, we would go every week."

April 10, 2006

A new Flory Jagoda album: this review and others from Judith Cohen

Inspired by Flory Jagoda's wonderful new album, Sephardic music expert and performer Judith Cohen has sent us a slew of reviews about recent significant recordings:

album coverThis is the one that started the recent round of writing: Flory Jagoda / Arvoliko. Cohen says that it is very, very good. Jagoda, of course, is a national treasure (and has the medal to prove it ;-)). Here she shows that she is still engaged with writing new songs about current life and politics. No "Ocho kandelikos" here. That's already been done.

album coverHere's another recent Jagoda release, this one with under-rated Argentinian singer, Ramón Tasat: Flory Jagoda and Ramón Tasat / Kantikas de amor i vida: Sephardic Duets. Another Tasat album, "Teshuva," by Tasat with César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky was reviewed in 2004 by Sam Weiss.

album coverBut wait, there's more! Izzet Bana & Estreyikas d'Estambol / Un Kavretiko, 2005, brings us a review of a delightful children's album.

album coverLess successfully, the excellent "Constantinople" ensemble tackled Sephardic music in 2001 with something that is beautiful as music, but perhaps not particularly connected to "Sephardic": Constantinople / Memoria Sefardí / Musique d'Espagne juive et chrétienne.

April 8, 2006

Sway Machinery on NPR

I listened hard to the first Sway Machinery album when it first came out. It wasn't klezmer. It wasn't punk or blues. It was't clear to me that it represented something that I needed to hear often.

Lately, I've been hearing more buzz about the band. In this interview for the NPR show, Benjamin Walker's "Theory of Everything," band leader Jeremiah Lockwood talks about chazanes and his grandfather, Jacob Koenigsberg, a wonderful chazan from the Golden Age. He also talks about the cantor as a spokesperson—he doesn't use the word, but he seems to be referring to the cantor as shaliakh tsibur (have I got the term right)—and also refers to the cantor as a storyteller.

So, now you have a guy playing a very emotional, noisy, blues-based music with stretches of chazones of some form—something his fellow band member, Stuart Bogie says could just as easily be speaking in tongues. I still don't know that I like it, or hear the divine in it, but it's definitely worth checking out.>In the end, I don't have to decide. I just have to keep on listening. So do you!:


You can check the band out live, on April 9th, in Brooklyn

April 3, 2006

2006 Boston Jewish Music Fest/KCB Reunion/KlezmerShack 10th Anniversary pix up

at the jam sessionOkay, the final batch of pictures is up on flickr (to the extent that my free account allows)—search for tag bjmf2006.

And, you can get the slightly larger set at the official KlezmerShack/Ivritype photo gallery: www.ivritype.com/gallery/bjmf2006/

There are a lot of people I don't know—if you can identify someone in a picture who isn't identified (or is incorrectly identified), send me the URL and the name. Thanks!

KlezmerShack 10th AnniversaryI'll be putting up some articles about the festival this week, if all goes well. And Friday I meet with Barrie Keller at the JCC to think about doing another one, next year. If you are interested in being on the organizing committee (and especially if you know of good funding sources/connections), speak up!

Jack Kessler brings out the Klingon in Brookline

latest Klingon Klezmer CDThere was a Shabbaton at my synagogue this past Shabbes with Rabbi Marcia Prager and her husband, Cantor Jack Kessler. Not being someone who davens best in a prayer session, I convinced Judy to come with me for Havdalah and a kickass concert by Jack, his son, and local musicians such as Dena Ressler.

I should mention that I really like Jack's cantorial and Middle Eastern CDs, but the real fun lies in the recordings by his simkha ensemble, the aptly named Klingon Klezmer. And at Temple Beth Zion, Jack managed to infuse a skilled group of pick-up musicians with the Klingon Klezmer fun in a short set that covered familiar repertoire in an unusually energetic and danceably entertaining manner. A delightful time was had by all.

And I am left wondering about the Philadelphia Jewish music scene. It isn't just the Klingons. It's Ken Ulansey's amazing band, and Benny & the Vilda Chayas and the Watts family women and Rachel Lemisch—and lest I forget, this is the town that gave us Hankus Netsky and Charlie Berg and Anthony Coleman and more. Some mighty interesting music happening there.

And while you wait for me to do an official review, you can take my word for it that the new Klingon Klezmer CD is as wonderful a mix of klezmer as done by people who may have taken more drugs than the rest of us during the Sixties, and/or listened to their rock music a bit louder, and who still haven't lost the sense of joy and the madcap fusion of styles that came out of that era. Still klezmer, but definitely not my bubbe's klezmer, for sure. Pick up a copy on CDBaby.com today.

April 2, 2006

Center for Traditional Music & Dance - and we congratulate Pete Rushefsky

CTMD logoThose of us who remember the Center for Traditional Music & Dance back when it was the Balkan Arts Center as the source of the last Dave Tarras cassettes and several wonderful events, along with newer folks aware of the organization only by its current name, are pretty pleased by the following news:

In summary: the organization's capable former Exec Dir. has resigned, and the new Executive Director is that master of the tsimbl (soon to be master of fundraising) and new denizen of New York City, Pete Rushefsky

Date: February 20, 2006
Contact: Jodi Hewat,Operations & Publications Manager,
Center for Traditional Music & Dance
Phone: 212-571-1555,ext.21
Fax: 212-571-9052
Web: www.ctmd.org

Co-founder and long-term Executive and Artistic Director Ethel Raim will be stepping down as Executive Director of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. The Center’s Board of Directors has appointed Peter I. Rushefsky, a seasoned not-for-profit health care executive and traditional music artist as its new Executive Director. Ms. Raim will continue to serve as Artistic Director for a transitional period and remain on the Center’s Board.

Ethel Raim has spent the better part of her lifetime tuning American ears to the tremendous beauty of traditional music and assisting communities to support their own cultural legacy. Her love of Balkan music brought her together with Martin Koenig to co-direct the Balkan Arts Center in 1976 – which was renamed the Ethnic Folk Arts Center in the ‘80s and later the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. She developed many of the innovative program models for which the Center is best known, including the Center’s Community Cultural Initiatives – long-term projects designed to establish and nurture community-based artistic documentation and presentation in New York City's immigrant, ethnic and refugee communities.

Under the leadership of Ms. Raim, the Center has become one of the nation's leading proponents of what the late Alan Lomax called “cultural equity,” the right of every community or ethnic group to express and sustain its distinctive cultural heritage. “Through her long career as an advocate of traditional performing arts and her leadership at the Center, Ethel Raim has helped America appreciate and value the vibrancy of its ethnic diversity” said Rick Luftglass, Sr. Director of U.S. Philanthropy at Pfizer and the Center’s Chairman.

Over the past fifteen years, Peter I. Rushefsky has built a highly successful track record of operational and financial leadership experience in the not-for-profit health care field. He served as Executive Director of Univera Healthcare-Southern Tier and Vice-President/Chief Operating Officer of Lifetime Health in Syracuse, NY. Mr. Rushefsky is a leading authority on Jewish klezmer music as well as an internationally-acclaimed performer and teacher who has authored a number of articles about traditional music and has served on the faculty of prominent Yiddish cultural programs like KlezKamp and KlezKanada. Through his work on a variety of community boards including the Buffalo Jewish Federation and the Buffalo Junior Chamber of Congress, Mr. Rushefsky has spearheaded significant fundraising and community-building activities. Mr. Rushefsky earned his B.S. from Cornell University and holds a Master’s in Health Services Administration from the Unive rsity of Michigan, Ann Arbor. “Pete Rushefsky brings a unique mix of business acumen, dedication to community service and expertise and passion for traditional music and dance. We are thrilled to have him aboard as our new Executive Director” said Luftglass.


The Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD) is a leading not-for-profit arts organization that has served New York City for more than three decades by strengthening performing arts traditions among ethnic and new immigrant cultures through educational programming, public performance and community partnerships. The Center develops and presents research-based performance and education programs for general and community audiences, collaborates with cultural institutions, documents traditions, produces audio and visual publications, main tains and extensive archive, promotes performance opportunities and builds support for community-based cultural expression.

And now, introducing Gad Elbaz

Eva Broman, following the discussion about Matisyahu on the Jewish-Music list, forwarded this:

After all the discussion about Matisyahu's success, I thought it might be interesting to read about another a young artist that apparently is rocking the Israeli Haredi community, selling in numbers that many secular artists can only dream of in a small market like the Israeli one:

Pop Star Rocks Orthodox Jewish Community by Scott Wilson, Washington Post, Nov 12, 2005

Gad Elbaz is the son of former secular Mizrahi singer Beni Elbaz, who now sings only religious material. I have one of Gad Elbaz's CDs, and I'd say that apart from the lyrics (which are too difficult to understand for my beginner's Hebrew), Elbaz doesn't sound that different from the current crowd of secular artists doing Western rap/R&B/modern pop balladry with a Mizrahi touch. He has also recently recorded a duet with mainstream star Shlomi Shabat (on Shabat's "Chaverim 2").

All this actually reminds me of the successful gospel groups of the seventies (e.g. The Staple Singers) who put religious/spiritual texts to current soul backings, with wah wah guitars and all.

Matisyahu interview in "The Onion"

Eve Sicular caught this:

, by Noel Murray, The Onion, Mar 14, 2006

April 1, 2006

Broiges tanz - on film!

Another item from the amazing Helen Winkler:

I now have a page up with video and photos from the event Judith Cohen and I did a few weeks ago:


The video clip of the broiges tants requires the most recent version of Quick Time to view it. This dance happened quite by accident as I had not planned to do it but Judith started playing and singing it earlier in the evening and we decided to include it at the last minute. My dance partner, Judy Silver had never seen a broiges tants before so it was very improvised and spontaneous. I welcome all information that people might have about this dance from past years, as I am accumulating a collection of people's recollections elsewhere on my web site.