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December 29, 2008

Maxwell St. Klezmer celebrates 25th Anniversary

From the Chicago Jewish NewsMaxwell Street Klezmer celebrates, in part, with a long, well-written article in the Chicago Jewish News: All that Jewish Jazz: Maxwell Street Klezmer Band celebrates 25 years of keeping the music of our past alive and well, by Pauline Dubkin Yearwood (12/26/2008)

Blog in Dm comments on "Beyond Boundaries"

I've been hoping that someone would have something to say about the "Beyond Boundaries" session a couple of weeks ago. I have talked with one participant on the panel who said that the panel was probably too large for the time, and that there wasn't time for the audience to really participate. The concert was reported as "okay." This is reportage? Fortunately, Blog in Dm offers up some germane and insightful coverage: Some Comments on Beyond Boundaries: Klezmer Music in the 21st Century

December 28, 2008

"Sisters of Sheynville" Canadian folk vocal group of the year

It's been a month since Lenka posted to the Jewish-Music list, but it still feels exciting. Could there ever be a situation in this country where a Jewish band would win an award for singing Jewish music? (I'm very pleased for the Klezmatics over their Grammy win last year for the Woody Guthrie album--I just wish, if they were going to win in an ethnic category, that it was seen fit to acknowledge their incredible Jewish music, not their proof that they can play non-ethnic folk as well or better than anyone out there).

Okay, so where was I. Canadian Folk Music Association--vocal group of the year to Sisters of Sheynville. Other Jewish winners (what, this wasn't just a singleton fluke?) included: David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana which got "World Group" of the year, and Montreal's klezmer/gypsy/jazz group Sagapool, which got the award for instrumental group of the year. So last month, Lenka Lichtenberg wrote:

Sisters of Sheynville… last night in St. John's, Newfoundland, at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, we (the Sisters of Sheynville) were presented with the "vocal group of the year" award. so now we are the proud owners of a (very heavy) beautiful glass sculpure… of course this is no competition to the American Music Awards, which were understandably given more room and attention even in Canadian media—but it was fun and we are thrilled!


Read more about it in the National Post: Klezmer In St. John's Puts 'Oy' In 'Boyo!', by Brad Frenette, on Nov 25, 2008

David Breytman, a"h, 1948-2008

David BreytmanYears ago, awed by David Breytman's playing, I accused him of playing "speed klez." This past spring, with a new release by his band, Klezmania, Shmoozin', his playing had slowed. In response to my query, his bandmates let me know how sick he was. It was with no surprise, but deep sorrow, that notice of his passing arrived in August:

It is with heaviness of heart that I write of the passing of David Breytman.

A skilled bayan player, an honest and truly decent mentch, an ever-reliable member of our group, Klezmania, his smile, his playing and his very presence will be sorely missed.

Born in Odessa, David graduated from Music College where he studied to be a conductor, and performer of folk instruments. During compulsory military service he was a musician with the Red Army Choir. David became a teacher of music and later attended the Teacher's Institute where he trained as a secondary teacher. David learned traditional Moldavian, Rumanian and Yiddish melodies from his grandparents and from his extensive travels throughout Moldavia and the Southern Ukraine. He toured throughout the Ukraine and the USSR with the Odessa Instrument Orchestra as concertmeister. This ensemble won gold and silver medals for Best Folk Music Orchestra at ‘All Russia’ Competitions. He migrated to Australia in 1978 and became the musical director of the Sadko Balalaika Orchestra in 1980 which has toured Australia and the USA.

David joined Klezmania in 1993, and last played with us at our recent album launches in June.

Lionel Mrocki

Tributes flow for Klezmania member, Darren Levin, Australian Jewish News, Aug 26, 2008

Bruce Adler, z"l, 1944–July 25, 2008

Bruce Adler Dear Friends,

Our beloved friend, our brilliant star, our amazing Bruce Adler passed away Friday morning. The shock and the void are overwhelming. We have lost a precious soul and a giant of our culture.

May his memory be blessed. May Amy and his entire family be comforted with the knowledge that he profoundly touched so many thousands upon thousands of lives. He will live on in our hearts forever.

Here are a few obituaries that have appeared online so far;

Moishe Rosenfeld, President
Golden Land Concerts & Connections, Inc.

From Jeff Warshauer
Bruce Adler was a friend, colleague and constant inspiration to many, many of us on this list. He was not only tremendously talented and accomplished, and deeply rooted in the Yiddish theater tradition, but he was also an exceptionally sweet, caring and considerate person. He will be sorely missed. Zol er hobn a likhtikn gan-eydn!

Jordan Hirsch
I only got to meet Bruce once, when we were both appearing on the Lubavitch telethon in NY. He finished his set, then stuck around and listened to us (Kleztraphobix) do our bit. He was extremely kind and supportive.

Eliott Kahn
I saw him on the Lubavitch Telethon and thought he was wonderful. Everything you could ask for in an entertainer: a lovely voice, winning personality and authentic. He seemed to have totally absorbed that wonderful Borscht Belt/ Yiddish Theatre culture.

Lori Lippitz
Here is a link: www.mahalo.com/Bruce_Adler_Dead
Lisa Fishman tells me he had stomach cancer. ALthough in his early 60s, he was recently married and has a new baby. So sad.

Margot Leverett
What a terrible loss. Besides being a living link to the Yiddish theatre of the past, he was also a consummate performer and professional—I learned most of what I know about being on stage and working with an audience from him. He left behind a 14-month old son named Jake. It's too sad. He was a gift to the world.

From the Blog in Dm comes this video of Bruce Adler singing "HooTsaTsa" (and much more)

Harris Wulfson, z"l, July 23, 2008

I sadly catch up with some sad tidings from the months I was unable to keep up with email. Harris Wulfson died suddenly on July 23. This from July 26, 2008. I have concatenated several posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list, started by the death notice in the NY Times, and then emails from Eve Sicular:

Harris Joshua Wulfson

Harris Wulfson, from flickr, 12th St. DavidI very sadly report that the wonderfully talented and sweet Harris Wulfson has died. His gifts included an extraordinary ear for many styles on violin, particularly klezmer and Balkan musics.

We were fortunate to have Harris record as a guest artist on our first two Metropolitan Klezmer CDs, and one photo of him with the band has long been posted on our gallery page. (You have to scroll down and look to the left side of the screen; this image is from 1999 at Tonic, picture by Dennis Kleiman; Harris is in a red shirt on the far right.) This is also in the booklet of "Mosaic Persuasion" in higher resolution: metropolitanklezmer.com/gallery_metro.html

Harris had been involved with many other band projects too—I know he had frequented The Tank and Barbes, around NYC, in the recent past—as well as compositional graduate programs on the West Coast and at CUNY, and many other high-level ventures and adventures, even in the short time he shared with us all.

May his memory continue for a blessing.

Here is a link to original compositions by the late Harris Wulfson, very moving 'new music' all on mp3's... much of this is played on live acoustic instruments: wulfson.com

Harris played in such a plethora of projects, many experimental music ensembles—and then so many folkloric & traditional groups too: a touring stint etc. with King Wilkie (is that considered bluegrass? I loved it; all around one mic too, old-time style); klezmer as I have already mentioned with my bands (both Metropolitan Klezmer and as guest klezbian for Isle of Klezbos) and many other Yiddish music groups too, including his fine swing stylings; Balkan & 'Silk Road' music including Sharqija with Ismail Butera—he studied in Bulgaria and elsewhere in Eastern Europe too I believe; not to mention the World On A String [or World on Four Strings?] string band, Irish tunes, jazz both Djangoistic and more, and plenty else of course.

The Harris Wulfson photo pool in flickr: www.flickr.com/groups/harriswulfson/

A Google Group has been created to serve as a central point of contact for information about all Harris-related program activities: groups.google.com/group/friendsofharris

A blog post about Harris by his cousin on Huffington Post.

here's a story I heard Harris' dad tell at shiva Sunday (it was across the kitchen, hope I'm telling this properly)…

Harris once rapped with Bobby McFerrin, spontaneously. I think first Bobby was asking for volunteer beat boxer, then when he heard Harris he said—let's switch, I'll go the rhythm for you.

Harris' rap went on two or three minutes, got a standing ovation.

His dad loved telling that—

Maurice Schwartz exhibit now online

From Steven Lasky, posted to the Mendele mailing list:

I have just placed online within the walls of my virtual, internet-only museum the next exhibition that falls under the title of "Great Artists Series." This exhibition about Yiddish acting great Maurice Schwartz and his Yiddish Art Theatre is the fourth of five such exhibitions to be presented within this category. Others featured within this series include Bialystok-born artist Max Weber, Yiddish playwright David Pinski, and the great American (Lithuanian-born) entertainer Al Jolson. The Jolson exhibition is a rather large one, containing twenty-seven web pages, featuring more than one dozen video clips and nearly four dozen sound clips, including Jolson songs, Fanny Brice singing "My Man," Jolson and Groucho Marx, George Jessel and more. You may wish to visit the page "The Jewish Side of Jolson" and hear him sing "Cantor on the Sabbath" in Yiddish, as well as Hatikvah and Kol Nidre. The last planned exhibition in the Great Artists Series that will be published online within the next month or so will be about American tenor and chazzan Richard Tucker.

The Schwartz exhibition contains a serialized version of the only known biography of Maurice Schwartz, a fairly complete listing of all of the Yiddish Art Theatre productions (title of work, author, years played), photos of scenes from various productions, many of the actors who played with troupe, as well as those who worked behind the scenes. I will be adding audio clips to this exhibition in the future featuring comments about Schwartz, from such greats as Luba Kadison, Seymour Rexsite et al. Your comments are most welcome, as are your suggestions for future exhibitions.

The URL for the Great Artists Series is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/gas-main.htm. The URL for the Schwartz exhibition is www.museumoffamilyhistory.com/mschwartz.htm.

December 27, 2008

Freestyling to klezmer

Ruth Ellen Gruber sends notice of this wild Hungarian Hannukah party, complete with video, showing a progression from rap to klezmer to Israeli folk song. Check it out!

Budapest -- Hanukkah Hungarian Klezmer Rap Party

Despite funding cuts: London KlezFest 2009 NOT cancelled

As of 3/1/09 I am able to report that KlezFest 2009 will definitely happen, as will other London Jewish Music events this summer

Booking is now open for this summer's JMI KlezFest London 9 – 14 August 2009 Preceded by the famous one week - Ot Azoy! Yiddish crash course 2 – 7 August 2009

At SOAS, University of London
Vernon Square Campus, Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW
Book online

To all KlezFest Faculty,

I have some disappointing news. Despite our best efforts, we have had to take the decision that KlezFest 2009 is just not going to be possible. As I am sure you are all aware, funding is very difficult at the moment and the amount needed to run the event properly is very large. The funding organisation we were applying to would only be able to let us know too late whether funding has been allocated. This would not give enough notice to teachers to make decisions about whether to come or not, and would offer us too little time to manage the marketing and administration necessary. So, it is with regret that we announce that KlezFest 2009 will not take place next August. We are very sorry and disappointed about this ourselves, but thought it best to inform everyone as soon as possible so that you can all make alternative plans.

This comes at a time when funding for the arts in the UK has completely slumped, and our own funding pools have seriously depleted. As a result, JMI has had to undertake some serious cutbacks. I have personally decided that it is best for me to look for alternative employment, so, sadly I will be leaving JMI at the end of this term (19th December).

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Geraldine & co will be continuing to apply for funding for KlezFest 2010 and will be in touch with people in due course to develop that. August 2009 it is hoped that JMI may be able to hold some small scale workshops at SOAS with a small team of UK teachers—so there will be Klezmer and Yiddish song in London of some description next summer.

I have so enjoyed getting to know all of you over the past few years and working with you to make KlezFest such a joyous and memorable and I definitely want to stay in touch with you all … email me, and of course I am on facebook—do become my friend if you arent already!

Lots of love, happy Chanukkah and best wishes for 2009
Dr. Laoise Davidson

Moshe Cotel, z"l, Oct 24, 2008

posted by Haim Kaufman to the Jewish-Music mailing list on 12/17/2008. Stewart Cherlin wrote about Rabbi Cotel on the KlezmerShack several years ago: Moshe Cotel - Chronicles: A Jewish Life at the Classical Piano (Nov '04).

Rabbi Moshe CotelI thought it would be appropriate to post this information about Rabbi Moshe Cotel z"l on this list, since it was conspicuous by its absence. I first heard of Moshe's untimely passing from the following notice sent out to the Israeli folk dance community to which I belong:

Folk dance was one of the myriad of spiritual, artistic and humanitarian threads in the rich tapestry of Rabbi Moshe Cotel's inspiring life. An award winning composer, pianist and conductor of international renown—who had composed a symphony for full orchestra at age 13—he attended Rabbinical school several years ago and had been serving as Rabbi of Temple Beth El in Manhattan Beach, Brooklyn. Concurrently, he was touring in performances of his one-man show, Chronicles: A Jewish Life at the Classical Piano and Chronicles II: More Teachings from a Jewish Life. For more about Rabbi Moshe Cotel and his remarkable accomplishments, see www.moshecotel.com

At Moshe's website, www.moshecotel.com, one can listen to live recordings as well as view many press clippings there.

Moshe's last interview on NPR (2nd on the page), Nov 6, 2008

The NY Times obituary: Rabbi Moshe Cotel, Composer, Dies at 65, by Dennis Hevesi, 2 Nov, 2008

I last spoke to Moshe at an Israeli folk dance session where he was dancing with his lovely wife Aliya the week before he passed away and when I heard the news it was hard to believe that he was gone. I am posting this information in the hope that some members of this list will benefit from Moshe's extraordinary contributions to Jewish music.

Haim Kaufman
New York City

Pete Rushefsky featured in Jewish Week article

Pete Rushefsky at the tsimblBack on the Jewish-Music list, George Robinson (whose own blog and reviews should be launched in a few days—stay tuned) got a chance to profile someone "… in the Jewish music world who was focusing on good works. I could have given my editor a list that would essentially have included every working musician on /this/ list, but I had to pick one to write about. I chose Pete Rushefsky, in no small part because I think that CTMD does important work directly affecting the future of the arts in New York City and beyond.…

All joking aside, I'm sure everyone knows Pete as a terrific and dedicated musician and a creative arts administrator and programmer. And now he's learning to change diapers, too. A man of many talents, profiled at Playing Against Time.

Judith Cohen checks in from Rome, Barcelona, Palma …

I get so little news about Jewish life or celebrations in Europe, and even fewer fun to read, that I requested permission from Jewish ethnomusicologist/chanteuse extraordinaire, Judith Cohen to reprint this message sent this morning to the Jewish-Music mailing list about her recent travels with her daughter, Tamar Adams:

hi, I'm here and there in Rome and Spain without a lot of internet access. … Tamar and I had a few interesting experiences singing and giving workshops—all-Sephardic (with a touch of Balkan and Yiddish) in Rome—from our base housed by the organization who invited us—in what seemed to be a converted cell, at a convent hostal next to the Vatican and opening onto a wonderful open street fruit and vegetable market.. The little bespectacled Rumanian (originally) nun who directed the place could occasionally be spotted driving an equally little car, with fierce determination, in the mad traffic around the Vatican—once, from the bus, I caught sight of her caught in a typical Roman snarl of vehicles waving her arms in the air over the steering wheel and shouting (apparently) imprecations which, regretfully, I couldn;t hear…. She had also made an agreement with the scruffy little bar next door to give convent guests coffee and a croissant every morning, and, to their own surprise, they turned out to have wifi which the owner's son had installed and forgotten about.

I visited the main synagogue to look at it, very imposing, but someone suggested to me that the melodies were more interesting at the small synagogue very few people know exists (so I won;t say here on the list where it is); there were very few people at it for Kabbalat Shabbat but those who were there did indeed sing pleasant melodies very tunefully . If anyone's going to Rome and is interested, ask me offlist.

I happened to be in Madrid for the historical first-ever lighting of a Hanukia in a public space. The "Gran Rabino" (Sephardic) of Israel was there, and did the main berakhot, which the local main rabbi translated into Spanish, mostly for the benefit of the curious neighbourhood people walking babies and dogs in the twilight. The music was loud, blaring Israeli music blasted over loudspeakers—Israeli dance tunes and songs in pop arrnagements. Most Jews in Madrid are Sephardic, or if Ashkenazi often Argentinian, and automatically joining hands to dance a basic hora doesn;t seem part of their background. Especially since the most traditional dance in Spain, which most people can do, the jota, is done in couples with hands free. A few made some desultory stabs at it and I joined in but it never really happened. The youth group had been advertised in the little programme as presenting "traditional Israeli dances", they showed up early and appeared to be practicing some routine but in fact they never did it. Finally, a non-Jewish recreational folk dance group showed up and set up their own iPod+loudspeakers system with a programme of Israeli dances they'd prepared for the occasion (they weren't invited, just heard about it), so I danced with them for an hour or so—the Jews didn't stick around for this.

Tamar and I did a concert for one of the three Hanuka events in Barcelona on the first night, in a community arts centre where Jewish events have not been held before; it was full, with about 50 people on the street who couldn't get in, and a lot of fun; we dug up some dreidls and invited the little kids in the audience to come up in stage and play with them whenever we sang relevant songs.

Today in Palma, back to my usual Spain favourite activity—off to do some fieldwork in a village here in Mallorca where a friend has found an 85-year old woman (not Jewish) no one has ever recorded here (and that's hard—a lot of field work happens in Mallorca) and whose family wants me to record her songs; so I'm charging the camcorder battery, then being picked up for Shabbat lunch by a Turkish Sephardic woman I met last night, who'll then take me out to the village…. Home a week from today (and hoping York U's strike, which has cut out my pay cheque since November, is over.).


Hanukkah klezmer podcast from Keith Wolzinger

I'm only a few days late in posting information about this, but Keith Wolzinger's podcast from last Saturday, Klezmer Podcast 45 is focused on Hanukkah. This is a special episode of Klezmer Podcast focusing on the Lights: Celebrate Hanukkah Live In Concert program airing on PBS Television during the month of December.

Updated Yizkor book links, by Helen Winkler

It's been almost a decade that Helen Winkler has been maintaining a page on the KlezmerShack with Jewish Music and Dance as recorded in Yizkor books. In time for the secular new year, she has provided a new set up updates. Check it out!

Of course, several of you will have noticed from the name that this is the same Helen Winkler, indefatiguable teacher of Eastern European Jewish dance (as well as more modern Israeli dance), and the maintainer of the Jewish Dance website.

Many thanks, Helen.

December 25, 2008

The vanishing Global Village Music

A friend writes that the Global Village website has vanished, as has the answering machine at the other end of the phone (or any use of that number). Nobody seemed to have any idea of what happened to Mike Schelessinger (last seen last year at the "Eldridge St." photo op?) do email me.

Fortunately, Yale Strom emailed a quick note to let me know that all is well, and I pass it on: "i spoke with michael schlesinger a few weeks ago...he is fine, been dealing with a lot of family "meshugas" health issues, etc. i think the office is closed but global village will continue...."

"Days of Light" from Yerachmiel

Sharon Frant(d) Brooks spotted this one. She writes: "This is a GREAT modern Chanukah fun musical piece."

I can't seem to get the page to give me embeddable code, so follow the link—it isn't so far: omnivibe.com/film/fun/daysoflight

Sufganiot - Rabbi Joe Black and Maxwell St. Klezmer

If you look through YouTube you will find that our old friends at Maxwell Street Klezmer have recorded their own version of "Ocho Kandelikas." Fortunately, this song from their new CD with Rabbi Joe Black shows some different Hanukkah consciousness. Remember, not for nothing is this the holiday of oil

Teruah Music adds Podcast

Things are heating up wonderfully in the Jewish music world as Jack Zaientz, whose Teruah Music blog has been required reading for years, now adds a podcast:

As many of you know I've been writing Teruah, a more or less daily blog on Jewish music for about two years now. This weekend I launched the Teruah Podcast. The podcast will be much like my blog, focusing on me presenting and providing context for interesting Jewish music I discover. The big difference...you can dance to it in your kitchen. I expect some 'casts to have specific themes and others to be more free-form. The first 'cast, naturally enough, is The Hanukkah Show.

If you want to contribute music or have good ideas for future shows, please don't hesitate to contact me. If you've already sent me music in the past I'm sure I'll be contacting you for permission to play my favorite songs. But don't hesitate to remind me :)

Thanks and Chang Sameach Chanukkah.

-- Jack Zaientz
Musical Schadchen
Teruah Jewish Music

KlezFactor merits "Video of the day"

Check out Medea's Video Pick of the Day for Dec 22. Yup, it's our Toronto friends, KlezFactor, whose most recent CD, Klezmachine is attracting a lot of attention. That album is now the #1 charted album on CHUO radio's "International" chart, for the week ending December 16th -- and that's up from #6 from the previous week. The band also charted at #19 for the CIUT chart (all included) for the same week (ending December 16).

You can get your copy of KlezMachine on cdbaby.com.

Or, you can get started by watching this jazz-klezmer cut from KlezMachine, "Naftule Brandwein is a badass mathematician."

Der yidisher-gramofon online!

Michael Aylward writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

I am pleased to be able to announce the launch of my website 'Der yidisher gramofon' at: www.yidisher-gramofon.org

I am hugely indebted to Joel Bresler who generously created this website for me. It is only now the project is complete that I realise what enormous demands I have made on Joel, no doubt on occasion testing his patience (and sanity?) to the limit. Without the enormous amount of work he contributed, the site simply would not exist.

The site falls into 3 broad sections:

The first deals with matters arising out of the 'Discography of Early European Recordings of Jewish Music' that I have been working on for the last 14 years.

The second section is devoted to the subject of pre-war radio broadcasts. This research is at present in its infancy, but is already proving a rewarding subject.

The third section is more general in nature, containing bilingual editions (original language and my translation) of source material relating to Jewish music, Yiddish and the Yiddish theatre. These are texts that I have collected over the years as I researched the discography and which I think should be made available to the general public.

This section will also contain a series of original articles that I have been working on for years and which I will begin to publish as and when I can fit the time in.

Finally, you will find a set of Appendices which I hope many will find useful. In particular I would like to draw your attention to the Reissues section where you will find 2 lists, one arranged by title and the other by artist name, of almost 1,600 recordings of CD reissues of recordings originally made on 78 rpm records and cylinders.

This is a very long-term project and in its present form the website represents just the basic foundations upon which in coming years, I hope, a much greater edifice will arise. I am now quite persuaded that publication on the Web is by far and away the most effective form of presenting this kind of information, if only for the far wider audience it can reach.

I hope there is something here for everyone and having 'lurked' on this list for so many years and benefited from it, I am glad to be able finally to make my own contribution.

An Afro-Semitic "Ocho Kandelikas"

I really enjoy this, but I am beginning to feel the same way about "Ocho Kandelikas" the same way I feel about מאוז צור and "I have a little dreidl." Get with the program, folks. Let's have some really neat new Hanukkah songs (see previous entry about the new Erran Baron Cohen CD for one example that might still seem worth repeating next your. Or may not).

Erran Baron Cohen - Dreidl

ad for CDWhat could be more fitting on this fourth day of Chanukkah but to present this non-embeddable video of a cut from Erran Baron Cohen's new CD. Look closely, and while Chassidim carefully put up Jesus' name in Hebrew graffiti, there's also a bit of Y-Love:

Erran Baron Cohen - Dreidel

You can also visit the official website for "Songs in the Key of Hanukkah"

Bob Cohen on the story behind the new DNK CD

cd coverYou've seen my review. Now Bob Cohen blogs about the sessions behind the new CD and even presents some video. Check it out on his blog.

December 21, 2008

Jewlia Eisenberg and Kugelplex wish you a Happy Hanukkah

From Jewlia Eisenberg, who has spent the last couple of months unreasonably ill and could use some good healing:

Happy solstice. To celebrate, here's a video clip you may dig: everyone's favorite bosnian-jewish khanukah hit, sung by me with kugelplex (like last year's "yiddish rudolph"). que viva flory jagoda! i just entered into correspondence with her this year, she's pretty inspiring for me.

December 18, 2008

Klára Móricz - The Art of Jewish Music, à la Russe

Jewish Identities - book coverMy knowledge of music in general, and of classical music in specific, is limited. But hearing of a lecture about Russia's Jewish Folk Music Society, during this, the centennial of the society's founding, was exciting. Here's the thing. Back in the early 20th century you had the Jews infiltrating Russian conservatories. They decided to band together and create "Jewish music." But, what did that mean?

First off, the name. Even though the society had little to do with folk music directly (although one society member, Joel Engel, was part of the An.sky expedition, and I'd guess that the expedition, itself, was an outgrowth of the Society's work and the intellectual ferment in which it existed), Russian law basically said that you had to claim to be a folk music society or nothing. So, "Jewish Folk Music Society." The compositional output of the society was primarily modern art song in Yiddish and Hebrew.

Yiddish and Hebrew? Are we speaking about the 20th century with which the rest of us are familiar? Well, one of the issues the Society dealt with was that it spanned communities. While some members were Zionist, some Bundish; some Yiddishist, some Hebraicists; many were apolitical. But all spoke in the language of ideology.

There are some fascinating parallels with modern times. According to the stories, the society was founded when Rimsky-Korsakov, listening to a Jewish-themed composition by one of his students, essentially said, "don't you folks have your own musical culture to build from? Do it?" I've twisted the story just enough to suggest a story told often by Klezmer revivalist Hank Sapoznik about a comment made by one of the bluegrass musicians he was interviewing back in the day.

An even stronger parallel could be made between the Art Song of the Society for Jewish Folk Music and the Radical Jewish Music that has been so popular in New York (although, like the relatively short arc of the SJFM, Radical Jewish Music is less explosive, less influential just a bit over a decade since John Zorn began recording it). There are some interesting differences between the two. In Russia 100 years ago composers were working with Jewish texts in Hebrew or Yiddish (depending on the political views of the composer), but attempting to remove the "oriental" elements from their music. The RJM of our century is largely without text--and most musicians recording on Zorn's label do not have the Jewish knowledge to approach Hebrew or Yiddish. But where they ignore text (however odd that may be for people of the book) they are very focused on Jewish-sounding music. No deracination of sound here.

Tonight's talk by Klára Móricz had nothing to do with Radical Jewish Music. Instead, she spoke about the music and politics and ideology (and lack thereof, in some cases) of these musicians. Ultimately, they had little interest inside Russia, and even those who left—Joseph Achron, Lazare Saminsky, and others, had relatively small influence on Jewish music, or on music in general, although several of them had respectable careers in music.

Móricz has written a recent book, Jewish Identities: Nationalism, Racism, and Utopianism in Twentieth-Century Music (California Studies in 20th-Century Music). The subject of tonight's lecture is from the first chapter in the book. If the rest is as good as tonight's lecture, I will thoroughly enjoy the book.

December 17, 2008

Di Naye Kapelye/Traktorist - what a treat!

cd coverI had other plans this evening. I might happily have caught up with a review of a very, very nice klezmer flute CD that is having a CD release party in New York City even as I write this. But then the package from Hatikvah Music arrived....

cd coverThe new CD is called "Traktorist." It features Bob Cohen, Yankl Falk, and the rest of Di Naye Kapelye. Michael Alpert shows up, as does Josh Dolgin. At one point they run out of musicians, so they dragoon a semi-anonymous crowd of extras called the Técső village band. The music runs a gamut from hutsul and other Carpathian wonders to Abe Schwartz, Hasidic nign, and those folky things that you collect when you've wandered around in them thar hills a few decades. In short, if you were hearing real bands worth hearing playing the mixed up, all fits together, dance your socks off usual repertoire, it might sound this good. I might have more refined things to say as I listen to this a few more times (It's been on steady repeat since I got home a few hours ago), but I already know that this is the gift. (Well, this and the other ten or so recordings on my Hanukkah List. I may be passionately in love with music, but I share.)

Available exclusively in the US from Hatikvah Music. Email Simon and tell him that Ari sent you! Available in Europe and elsewhere from Oriente.

December 15, 2008

Sarah Aroeste—Roberto Rodriguez Cuban-Sephardic Music Project

From Sarah Aroeste:

Sarah Aroeste, Roberto Rodriguez in Cuba

Over the past year Sarah Aroeste & Cuban-born musical collaborator, Roberto Rodriguez, have teamed up to create a project of all original, Sephardic-inspired, Cuban-infused music.

After recently returning from performing together in Havana, Cuba, this unique musical collaboration has taken off, but it needs your help!

In addition to developing their own music of original Cuban-Sephardic songs, Aroeste & Rodriguez are committed to helping promote Cuban Jewish life by working to build a Jewish Music Library based in Havana.

If you would like to donate Jewish music CD's or songbooks, please email us to learn how.

If you would like to make a financial contribution (any amount helps!) to support this important project to help keep Cuban Jewish music and culture alive, please make a secure donation (via paypal or credit card) through our fiscal sponsor Deep Listening Institute. All current donations will go towards supplying shelving and music players for the library.

All donations are tax-deductible.

To any who are able to contribute to this project, a sincere thank you in advance for participating in this very special cultural initiative. We look forward to updating you on the progress of the project and the library in the coming months...and please feel free to spread the word in the meantime!

Email us if you would like to find out more...

Read what the New York Daily News recently reported about this project

Pass the candle

Today's corny, but nice Chanukah video - turns out the singer is a friend of someone here at work:

Moussa Berlin honored in Israel - 50 years of incredible music

Check out this video from a concert in Moussa's honor this past week:

נ.ב - מצ"ב הקישור להופעה בערב ההצדעה ל 50 שנות מוסיקה של מוסא ברלין . אם כי הצילום אינו איכותי דיו ,אך הוא ממצה ומרגש לצפייה

December 14, 2008

Atzilut's concert for peace

cd coverSeveral years ago I received the latest recording from the Middle Eastern / nign / fusion band Atzilut. I love it. I wrote a review of it almost immediately. And then I'd periodically ping the band saying, "okay, when is this going to actually be available? How do people get their hands on this amazing recording?" For years it was "jam tomorrow, but never jam today," and then I forgot. Tonight I was given the go-ahead to spread the word, and with great pleasure I make this review live. The recording has the awkward title, concertforpeace.com. Enjoy.

Three must-have CDs, reviewed by Keith Wolzinger

cd coverLet's see. Suppose you took one of my favorite old-time singers, Hazel Dickins, and had her sit in with the amazing Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys. Then suppose you invite some of the best bluegrass musicians--oh, Mike Marshall, Tony Trischka ... then suppose you rope in the guitarist whose work in the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna made my high school years almost bearable. Even in my imagination, I didn't dream of something this good. Check out Keith's review of the Klezmer Mountain Boys' latest, Second Avenue Square Dance. I'll say just one more thing. Jorma co-wrote one of the songs with Margot. It's good.

cd coverLike fellow trumpet genius Frank London, David Buchbinder is never still, and he is always involved in something special. Problem is, he's from Canada—a Torontan, for goodness sake, so we never hear of him in this country. Bad move. In this project he got together with Cuban musician Hector Durán and they decided to see what they could come up with. The results first hit the performance waves at Ashkenaz two years ago. They waited to bake the CD until the songs were ready. It is outstanding. Check out Havana/Odessa and you'll hear why I love this CD.

cd coverThis is Yale's umpteenth CD. It's a good one. It features music from all over Eastern Europe that he's gathered in his travels, the drumming of David Licht (among other stars), and the voice of his wife Elizabeth Schwartz. Check out what Keither has to say about Borsht with bread, brothers.

As you get ready for your final holiday purchases, I will be trying to catch up with reviews of the latest Jewish music. Some by me, many by Keith and other reviewers. Stay tuned.

Two for Chanukah

With the Chanukah season upon us, I want to make sure that KlezmerShack readers are aware of two relatively new Chanukah releases—one just out from our talented friends at Maxwell St. Klezmer (with their friend, Joe Black), and another from the amazing Lori Cahan-Simon.

CD coverJudith Pinnolis has an excellent review of this new CD, Eight Nights of Joy by old friends Lori Lippitz and the Maxwell St. Klezmer Band. This time, the band teams up with Rabbi Joe Black for a wonderful family recording. You can get more information (and your copy of the CD) at www.eightnightsofjoy.com

cd coverKeith WolIzinger's review of Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble / Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration highlights a lovely album, and one that will also bring a bit of the mame loshn to your Chanukah gatherings. You can support the KlezmerShack by purchasing the CD from CDBaby using our link.

Bel Canto - were these recordings =really= the nusakh from temple days?

Andy Tannenbaum, just back from travels to Italy, himself spotted this fascinating audio interview on Nextbook:

Bel Canto: Composer Yotam Haber finds inspiration in a dusty Roman archive; Interview by Sara Ivry

"Thirty years before the common era—a century before the destruction of the Second Temple—some Jews left Jerusalem for Rome. There, they established a community whose cantors chanted Torah in the tradition they brought with them from the land of ancient Israel. It was an insular community and over subsequent generations, that insularity helped preserve the community's distinctiveness. Over the ensuing centuries, the Roman cantorial style remained relatively unchanged, impervious to the flourishes and innovations of newer traditions that arose in the Sephardic and Ashkenazic worlds."

I find that thesis extraordinarily unlikely given how thoroughly Italy's Jews mixed not only Ashkenazic and Sephardic cultures, but local music cultures as well. But that doesn't mean the music isn't great. So, read on/listen on and see what composer Yotam Haber has to say....

Review: New Klezmer Fiddle book by Ilana Cravitz

book coverWe've already noted that the book is out, but now Eric Zaidins takes Ilana Cravitz' new book for a spin and tries it out with his Westchester Klez Kidz. This is the gift for the budding musician in your family this year. Check out the details of Klezmer Fiddle: a how-to guide. (Note, the book comes with parts for a number of string instruments. We had the great pleasure of using it during our Sukkoth klezmer jam. ari)

With luck, getting this review online means that I'll be breaking the logjam and other listings, calendar events, and reviews will start appearing. If you haven't already purchased items for the gift-giving season, stay tuned.

Beyond Boundaries this Tuesday

If you are in NYC, you'll hear everyone from Drs. Hankus Netsky and Joel Rubin to Alicia Svigals at this amazing event:

Hot PstromiDecember 16 2008

3pm to 4:30:
Symposium 'Beyond Boundaries: Klezmer in the 21st Century' at CUNY's Martin E. Segal Theatre.

Concert with Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi and special guests celebrating the first anniversary of the historic 'Great Day on Eldridge Street' photo and gathering. Martin E. Segal Theatre, CUNY, New York

For more info, see the Klezmershack calendar listing.

December 7, 2008

Cookie Segelstein on the cover of Hadassah Magazine

Yes, that's our own Cookie Segelstein on the cover of the current Hadassah Magazine. Her photo is featured to highlight a delightful article by George Robinson on the Eastern European roots klezmer popularized by Cookie's bands < a href="/contacts/klezbands_v.html#band.vpass">Veretski Pass and Budowitz. (Okay, the latter was founded by partner Josh Horowitz.) Other featured artists include Alicia Svigals, Steve Greenman, Michael Winograd, Joel Rubin, and Yale Strom.

This is not new stuff—I remember writing about the radical edge of new klezmer over 10 years ago, having met Josh, and Bob Cohen during a jaunt through Eastern Europe in 1996. I can still taste the food, and still hear them telling stories about finding local musicians and learning from them. I can still hear the music, but that's easier. Both Veretski Pass and Budowitz have released their best yet CDs this past year (which is to say, the best klezmer CDs of the year by anyone), and the new Di Naye Kapelye CD should be arriving shortly (available now in Europe?). Michael Winograd's recent "Bessarabian Hop" is also garnering deserved attention.

George also gives a nod to the post-revival kick given klezmer by the arrival of the late German Goldenshtayn to Brooklyn too few years ago with an amazing songbook and so much wonderful music.We'll post more once Hadassah posts the current magazine to their website. Right now, it features October 2008.

December 2, 2008

Mothers who Drum

We're all familiar with Elaine Hoffman Watts, mother of trumpeter/vocalist Susan, and drummer extraordinaire. Now, Christian Dawid returns from a trip to the Ukraine with this video of Maria Parfenivna Baranovska, mother of part of the family which makes up the extraordinary Konsonans Retro:

She is, as he puts it, "Ukraine's Coolest Drummer"