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January 26, 2009

Felix Mendelssohn, lost and found

Fanny Mendelssohn, from Wikipedia CommonsGeorge Robinson's latest piece for the Jewish Week discusses the question of the grandson of Haskalah founder Moses Mendelssohn possibly returning to Judaism (his father converted both Felix and sister Fanny when they were young). In Mendelssohn, Lost And Found, Robinson talks about a plethora of pieces that were not published in Mendelssohn's lifetime. It's a fascinating piece, and will hopefully inspire some thinking and research, but to me, the most significant "lost" Mendelssohn is older sister Fanny, who not only played an active role in much of Felix's output (to the degree that some historians feel she should be credited as "co-author" of many pieces, and the possibly-not-coincidental fact that Felix died within months of Fanny), but whose own career as a musician and composer was prevented by both father and brother who felt it entirely inappropriate that a woman should be engaged in such pursuits. One could hope that at least some of the 200th anniversary concerts would acknowledge Fanny (and at least one concert in NYC does), but here in Boston, when the Boston Symphony Orchestra played the 200th anniversary "all-Mendelssohn" concert, they meant Felix only. Sad. Check out your local library for some recordings of Fanny's music that have been recorded and you'll see what I mean. By me, Fanny is the real "lost" story—and for most people, she still hasn't been "found."

January 25, 2009

Five new reviews from Keith Wolzinger: from a jazzy Yizkor, to New Jewish dance music from France

I am still months behind in posting reviews from Keith Wolzinger's Klezmer Podcast blog. Here are some exciting recordings as I slowly catch up (and yes, there are a host of my own reviews to come soon, I hope):

Interesting use of b/w sans serifFirst, I have to mention David Chevan's most recent recording for the High Holidays, this one featuring Hazzan Alberto Mizrahi, as well as his Afro-Semitic Experience. Each time Chevan undertakes this sort of project, he finds new ways to explore, and incredible partners, and this recording from Mizrahi is no exception. But don't take my word for it. Check out Keith's review of David Chevan / Yizkor.

cd coverMany of us have been noticing that there is a plethora of exciting new Jewish-derived hip-hop, rock, world beat. From my vantage, I can also testify that an awful lot of it is getting to Paris, which has turned into the latest hotbed of new Jewish music. It's about time, then, that JuMu, the main Parisian agent of new music should put out this recording. This isn't just a chance to hear more familiar names like David Krakauer, Sophie Solomon, SoCalled, Hip Hop Hoodios, Oi Va Voi, or the Frank London Klezmer Brass Ensemble. There are also the French bands that haven't been heard in this country at all. Check out JuMu Presents Nu Jewish Music Vol. 1 and see if we're not in agreement.

CD coverWhen friends and I went to view Ladino rockers DeLeon at a local club several months ago, there was little other than the novelty of Ladino to perk up our ears. Now, Keith listens to their CD and comes away quite excited about where the band is now, and where they may go: DeLeon.

nice script faceI had an entirely different experience last year when in Toronto (one of my favorite cities, and an incredible Jewish music—or world music in general—town). Fern Lindzon was holding court at a local jazz club. Here was a chance to hear an anchor of both The Lithuanian Empire and Sisters of Sheynville playing straight-forward jazz (with some much-appreciated personal twists) with some friends. It was a delightful evening, and Keith gets the same buzz from her solo album, Fern Lindzon / Moments Like These.

cd coverAnd, speaking of Jazz, along with Eastern European folk music, we have the STriCats, an innovative ensemble from the Netherlands. This could take some explaining (or you could just listen), so I'll let Keith do the honors: STriCat / rates & good people.

KlezKanada winter program deferred to mid-February in Montreal

KlezKanada logo
Announcing Winter KlezKanada at the Ben Weider J.C.C.

Musicians! Counting the days until KlezKanada 2009? Don't wait for the warm weather to brush up on your D Freygish and join us for the WInter K.K. ensemble.

Come out and play Klezmer repertoire with other musicians with the guidance of Klezkanada Faculty member Rachel Lemisch. Learn the Freylach, Hora and bulgar, as well as improvisation in a Jewish style. All instrumentalists aged 14 and up welcome. Emphasis will be on jamming and performing. Semester will culminate in a concert.

Group meets every Mon./lundi, 19h00 - 20h30, from ~Feb 17 (delayed from original start of Jan 26)

Further info at www.klezkanada.org/index.php/calendar/1-2-1|1-21438.html, or email Rachel Lemisch.

January 23, 2009

KlezKanada tribute to Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

KlezKanada logo
KlezKanada has posted a short tribute to former staffmember Pesakh Fiszman on it's main page, www.klezkanada.org. Scroll down to read/view the tribute.

Photos: Yiddishe March at the Jewish inaugural festivities

Photo by Lloyd WolfPhotographer Lloyd Wolf posts these photos from the inauguration:

"The Jewish Grassroots Action Network threw a pre-inaugural dinner and concert in Washington, DC, in honor of the inauguration of Barack Obama. Adrianne Greenbaum, a noted klezmer musician, assembled and led an all-star group for the occasion, featuring world-renowned clarinetist Joel Rubin, and violinist Jake Shulman-Ment, among other superb players."

Read the whole story, and see the photos on Lloyd's blog, Lloyd Wolf Photographer

Ruth Ellen Gruber memories of Henryk Halkowski, z"l

Henryk Halkowski poses in Krakow in 1997 at a souvenir stand selling carved figures of Jews. (Ruth Ellen Gruber)Ruth Ellen Gruber's column, Ruthless Cosmopolitan, about the late, much-missed Henryk Halkowski.

More on Henryk on the Klezmershack

Second Jack Zaentz podcast released

From Jack:

I wanted to let everyone know that the Teruah Podcast Episode 2: The Story Show is now online. In this episode I've rounded up a great array of Jewish story songs sung in English, everything from Yiddish novelty songs to brand new Indie Pop with stories ranging from the Torah to Chelm to New York. Check it out.

January 22, 2009

KlezmerShack wins Drupal book

Ya'll know how, for years, I've been talking about how the KlezmerShack is going to get new code, get some new features, and move into the 21st century? I've been intending to move this site into an open source content management system called Drupal, which is the same tool that I recommended to the Jewish Women's Archive (disclaimer: I am JWA's chief techie. But at the day job, I can hire competent people to make this work. For the KlezmerShack, I gotta figure it out myself). Drupal comes with lots of smarts built in, and a very good community of smart people.

Along the way I have bought several books on making drupal do what I want (and read zillions of rather excellent articles). The books, so far, have sucked. They make me want to find time to learn this all so that I'll write the better book, except that now I don't have to. O'Reilly Publishers have released "Using Drupal," which sounds exactly like the book I want to read. Better, one of the authors held a contest in which he offered to send a free copy of the book to the person posting the best comment about the site they'd build with it. The KlezmerShack won!.

One way or the other, this website is moving into the current century this year. When we're done, people will be maintaining their own information; calendar entries will no longer require me to mediate getting the damn information to KlezmerShack readers, and this will all work and be accessible from those new-fangled mobile devices. And now, for better or worse, that boast has been exposed to people on this other blog, so I guess I had better make it happen. At least I'll have a nice example of that old-fashioned print stuff to help me get there.

January 21, 2009

Adrienne Cooper - Remembering Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

Pesakh Fiszman photo, courtesy Bob BlacksbergAdrienne Cooper is gathering stories about Pesakh. If you have ideas/info toward a bio/obit for him, please email her.

I am having trouble accepting that he is gone.

Judith Pinnolis review: Rebecca Teplow's "Kaveh / Hope"

cd coverOver at the Jewish Music Web Center, Judith Pinnolis has a short review of a new CD by Rebecca Teplow, "Kaveh / Hope". The recording features Teplow's lovely, Joni Mitchell-ish voice and liturgical texts and folky-to-rock-ish music. The CD is available from cdbaby.com.

January 20, 2009

Worlds within a World releases Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman film

Jack Zaentz covered this back in May, and here I am catching up—but this is important:

video coverYiddish Film Project
Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers
Beyle Schaechter Gottesman: Song of Autumn

The League for Yiddish is pleased to announce that the film Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman: Song of Autumn (BEYLE SHEKHTER-GOTESMAN: Harbstlid), the second film in our series Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers (A velt mit veltelekh: shmuesn mit yidishe shraybers) is ready and available for viewing and purchase.

The Film

Beyle Schaechter Gottesman: Song of Autumn is an edited interview conducted with this remarkable Yiddish poet, songwriter, and singer by her son folklorist/journalist Itsik Gottesman and enhanced by photo stills and Schaechter-Gottesman's music. The film is 72 minutes long. The interview is entirely in Yiddish WITH VERY ACCURATE AND COMPLETE ENGLISH SUBTITLES. In it, BEYLE, whose name has become synonymous with modern Yiddish song and who has played a central role in revivng and inspiring interest in Yiddish song and poetry among a whole new generation of artists, discusses her life and creative path: her upbringing in the Yiddish cultural milieu of Tshernevits (then Rumania) as the daughter of a remarkable traditional folk singer and a passionate Yiddishist, the war years in Rumania, her development as a modern Yiddish poet and songwriter in New York, and her views on Yiddish literature and creativity. What emerges is a rich picture of the world of a woman who recited poetry to the great Yiddish fabulist Eliezer Shteynbarg as a child, was part of a vibrant Yiddish enclave in the Bronx, and is the only Yiddish poet ever to be awarded a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the nation's top honor for folk arts.

HIGHLIGHTS include Beyle's reciting several of her poems as well as singing several of her own songs, among them the favorites, "Mayn khaverte Mintsye" (My Friend Mintsye) and "Borekh-habo dir, khaver" (Welcome, My Friend).


The film is directed and edited by Josh Waletzky, director and editor of Image before My Eyes and Partisans of Vilna, and editor of Emmy Award-winning Itzhak Perlman: In the Fiddler's House. Among other awards, Josh is the recipient of the Silver Ducat at the Mannheim International Film Festival for Image and First Prize at the Anthropos International Film Festival for Partisans.

The Project

Worlds within a World: Conversations with Yiddish Writers aims to provide a visual and oral document of prominent contemporary Yiddish writers so that present and future generations can "spend time" with these fascinating figures and gain some insight into their work and milieu. Thus far, in addition to Schaechter-Gottesman, we have filmed Itche Goldbergand painter/writer Yonia Fain.

Our first film Itche Goldberg: A Century of Yiddish Letters (ITSHE GOLDBERG: OYB NIT NOKH HEKHER) on Yiddish educator, essayist, literary critic, poet and editor Itche Goldberg is also available.


Both films make the perfect program for a Yiddish circle, class, or even your local Jewish or documentary film festival. The film is available in VHS or DVD format. TO ORDER, SEND $30 PLUS $5 POSTAGE (IN THE US) OR YOUR CREDIT CARD INFORMATION to LEAGUE FOR YIDDISH 64 FULTON ST. SUITE 1101, NEW YORK, NEW YORK 10038. Postage for Canada – $6.00 for either VHS or DVD. International postage other than Canada – $5 for the DVD and $12 for the VHS.You may also order at our website www.leagueforyiddish.org with a credit card or paypal. For inquires, please call 212 889-0380.

Props to the Klezphonics

I missed a couple of great performances by our Rhode Island neighbors, the Klezphonics a couple of weekends ago, but fortunately a reporter from one of the local papers caught the music, and documented:

Beyond ‘Hava Nagila’, by Jim McGaw, 16 Jan 2009, EastBayRI

January 19, 2009

Veretski Pass t-shirts almost as good as the music

It is one of my complaints that Jewish musicians do generally uninspired t-shirts. Except for the KlezmerShack, itself, and a few bands like the Klezmatics or Yiddishe Cup or Jewlia Eisenberg, t-shirts that one might really want to wear are few and far between. For someone like me, for whom making the t-shirt fashion statement is a minor ingredient at getting myself up to the gym early in the morning, this is no trivial thing.

t=shirtThere is, however, one klezmer band whose wild, insanely good playing sets the bar. And, it is fitting that Veretski Pass should issue t-shirts worth having. I post this notice not just to encourage fans of the band's music to grab one of these custom-made, limited edition goodies before they disappear (now $20, incl. shipping), but to encourage other bands to do the same.

cd coverCheck out the Veretski Pass store, where you can purchase the t-shirt, a full-sized poster. Elsewhere on the website you will discover actual CDs of the band, including their blazing second CD, on the 10-best list of all cognoscenti, including new blogger/long-time reviewer George Robinson this past year, and even printed music! Such a deal!

Piyut online

Eva Broman spotted this site and wrote to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Just by chance I came across this blog with some wonderful pioutim by the Tunisian hazzan (Cantor) Acher Mizrachi:


Check out "Habibi Ya Habibi" with Itzik Kalah, achermizrahi.centerblog.net/4475505-Habibi-Ya-Habibi-Itzik-Kala

"Naguila Hallelouia" with Ruby Chen, il.youtube.com/watch?v=bPXb_XJLyQY

And a modern version with Stalos and Oren Chen, il.youtube.com/watch?v=vFGkbe4Gywc

Another Tunisian piout with Beni Barda, il.youtube.com/watch?v=LzdDA7gkt18

There is a lot more on the achermizrachi site. Here is an article about his music: Creative Cultural Fusions: "Orientalizing" the Ballad Melody, by Samuel G. Armistead, Faculty Research Lecture, 1998, University of California, Davis. Enjoy!

Don Byron at 50

This is a couple months old, now, but still fascinating. Byron, of course, was the original clarinet player in the Klezmer Conservatory Band and is also well-known for a a href="/bands/byron/katz/byron.katz.html">CD of Mickey Katz tunes he recorded many years ago.

Don Byron, from NPRMusician, composer and bandleader Don Byron has a new album out, Do the Boomerang. It's a collection of songs associated with the great Motown saxophonist and singer Autry "Junior Walker" DeWalt. Tracks include Shotgun and Roadrunner. While Byron is usually associated with the clarinet, he plays tenor sax on this new CD.

"Aneinu" - new Moshe (Moussa) Berlin field recordings by Joel Rubin

This was announced this Fall by Joel Rubin, and the CD is now available at all the US outlets (amazon.com, etc., as well as from Wergo, in Europe. The entire Wergo series is also available from our favorite Jewish music vendor, Simon Rutberg of Hatikvah Music. E-mail Simon for an excellent deal on all or parts of the series (or any other Jewish music).

cd coverWe are pleased to announce the release of the 11th production in the Wergo Jewish Music Series, edited by Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens:

Aneinu! Hasidic-Orthodox Music from the Festival of the Torah in Jerusalem, featuring the Moshe "Moussa" Berlin Ensemble (Schott Wergo SM 1628-2).

The CD received a German Record Critics' Prize (4th Quarter 2008). It was released in the US on Dec. 9 2008, coinciding (approximately) with Moussa's 70th birthday.

Aneinu! contains repertoire from the Israeli hasidic-orthodox klezmer tradition. The field recordings of Israel's preeminent klezmer clarinetist, Moussa Berlin, were made by ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin in the Beit Ha-Rav Kook yeshiva in Jerusalem during the Second Hakafot ceremony celebrating the end of the holiday Simchat Torah in 1992. They show the vital role that the music of the klezmorim and the ecstatic singing of nigunim (melodies of spiritual elevation) play among orthodox Jews, displaying at the same time a microcosm of the variety of ethnic and cultural influences to be found in the musical traditions of Israel today. Accompanied by electric guitar, synthesizer and drums, Berlin's clarinet melds with the ecstatic, impassioned, loud and exuberant singing of the students of the yeshiva.

January 18, 2009

This Land is Your Land, at the pre-Inauguration concert this afternoon

I heard part of this, and I saw a bit more on the news, but here is one of the most exciting parts of this afternoon's concert. Doesn't have anything to do with Jewish music directly (although there may be few who grew up in this country who haven't sung it—heck, I first learned it in Canada, when I lived in Calgary as a child, with just a few identifying landmarks change). But this is a more complex version than is usually sung, and Pete Seeger looks like he waited a lifetime for this moment. I thought he was ready to retire back in the '80s, and here he still is.

May some of our hopes and dreams for this new administration, with our ongoing efforts, turn out true.

Another view of John Zorn

Well, here's a take on John Zorn that sees him in a context that I would never have imagined. There is some interesting thinking happening, and I'm always pleased to promote good writing about someone as significant as Zorn. Check out new KlezmerShack author Carl Packman's John Zorn: The Paul of Klezmer Music

Some recent reviews of interest by Elliott Simon

While I am catching up, it is long past time to note several new posts of interest by Elliott Simon, from All About Jazz:

Nicely done!Let's start with a review of David Buchbinder's brilliant collaboration with Cuban musician Hilario Durán, Odessa/Havana.

… Partnering with Cuban pianist Hilario Duran, Buchbinder has created more of a symphonic statement that extols the best of both genres [Cuban/Jewish]. While some pieces clearly ring more Latin than Jewish and vice versa, others blend aspects of both musics into a holistic experience that highlights the commonalities while celebrating the differences….

CD coverIf, like me, you are as captivated by Balkan brass rhythms as by klezmer, you will be very interested in Simon's review of this new entry from Seattle: Orkestar Zirkonium.

… This is great "tukhes" shaking music with a depth of composition and style that keeps it from becoming cartoonish—Orkestar Zirkonium is the real deal.

cd coverFinally, and sticking closer to home, Simon catches the latest of a series of Israeli jazz artists who have come to call New York their home, Introducing Omer Klein

… an Israeli-American jazz connection … has produced a culture of premier artists who have gone on to influence the broader jazz community. Pianist Omer Klein is part of a second wave of these musicians who mix virtuosity, world music sensibility and melodic flair to affect a global sound….

New Wolzinger reviews, from Polish Klezmer to Canadian Yiddish Art Song

I am so very behind in posting reviews by Keith Wolzinger, who continues to release new podcasts and reviews, regardless. Let me start to catch up with some very special ones:

I'm not happy with that Hebrew font used that way, but otherwise a nice coverIt's hard for me to imagine a more pretentious name for a Yiddish art song CD than "A Song is Born," especially when the haunting sound of didgideroo is heard in the opening bars. But Mitch backs it up. The former director of Toronto's acclaimed Ashkenaz Festival got some of his (and mine!) favorite musicians from around the world, including trumpeter Paul Brody from Germany, and the incomparable Moguilevsky and Lerner from Buenos Aires. The result is the most exciting, inventive, beautiful, and just plain interesting Yiddish album in years. Songs range from traditional, to Yiddish folk & theatre hits, to the always-interesting Lazar Weiner, and new tunes by Marcelo Moguilevsky. But, read what Keith has to say, in his review of Mitch Smolkin / A song is born / אַ ניגן איז געבוירן

nice woodcut drawing and well-rendered letteringFor those lucky folks who live in Toronto, tonight is the CD release of the first solo release by talented Jazz musician Lorie Wolf: The Lithuanian Empire, as well as the award-winner Sisters of Sheynville.

cd coverDrummer Matt Temkin goes in a different direction, entirely. To those who know him, this is no surprise, nor is the delicious serving of older-style klezmer-jazz á la Epstein Brothers, with welcome side trips to Second Ave. and to the music of the late German Goldenshteyn. Anchoring it all in "today" is the way he transposes the concept of "jam band" to klezmer, and how obvious and delightful it all sounds together. Check out Keith's review of Matt Temkin's Yiddish Jam Band / Poykler's Shloft Lied.

cd coverFinally, Keith introduces a band that is entirely new to me, the high-energy Polish ensemble, Klezmafour. Sounds like I need to pick up some new music.

More coming soon!

Reappearing Acts: From Jewish Life to Jewish Dance Theatre, now online

Here is a fascinating account of a century of traditional Jewish life leading to Jewish dance, from the Yiddish Dance Network:

… the paper I wrote last year is now online through "Mofa, Magazine of the Performing Arts," published out of Tel Aviv U., edited by Avraham Oz from Haifa U.: Reappearing Acts: From Jewish Life to Jewish Dance Theatre, by: Karen Goodman, Los Angeles date: 2008-01-14

In 1913, in Lodz, Poland, a fifteen year old cheder boy pushes his payes under his hat to go tango dancing with his sister. He wins a ballet scholarship to Berlin; and this youngest and only son of thirteen, whose Chasidic mother wants him to be a rabbi, changes tracks. Soon he is performing for even the Kaiser, with the Berlin Opera Ballet, then as soloist in operettas, and studying drama with Max Reinhardt. He enters the U.S. illegally in 1920. [more]

Joza Karas, z"l

Eva Broman spotted this obituary last month in the NY Times:

Joza Karas, Collector of Music of Nazis’ Victims, Dies at 82, by Douglas Martin, Dec 6, 2008

Joza Karas, a musician and teacher who became a sleuth in his quarter-century search for the music and stories of composers who managed to do masterly work in a Nazi concentration camp, died on Friday in Bloomfield, Conn. He was 82. [more]

Klezmer Podcast on Roberto Rodriguez

Roberto RodriguezGiven recent posts about Roberto's work in Cuba, I wanted to make sure that people know about Keith Wolzinger's recent Klezmer Podcast with the drummer. I should note that more recent podcasts include Toronto singer Mitch Smolkin and a Chanukah special.

Klezmer Podcast 43: My guests on this episode are Roberto Rodriguez and Gilad Harel from the band Sexteto Roberto Rodriguez. The band plays a combination of Jewish/Klezmer and Afro-Cuban music. Rodriguez talks about growing up in Miami Beach and his exposure to Jewish culture.

New 4-CD Haim Effendi set from Jerusalem via Joel Bresler

Eva Broman spotted this wonderful new set:

A Must-Have Recording for Anyone Interested in the Sephardic Musical Heritage

CD coverAn Early 20th-century Sephardi Troubadour: The Historic Recordings of Haim Effendi of Turkey

In 1907, the Odeon recording company in Turkey released the first record by Haim Effendi, one of the very earliest recordings of Judeo-Spanish music. The name of Haim Effendi (1853–1938) was known among devoted aficionados of Sephardic music, but to this day virtually none of his recordings were available to the general public. This re-release of almost 60 of Haim Effendi's songs offers the public a rare opportunity to hear his voice and appreciate the variety of his repertoire.

This new edition includes liturgical and paraliturgical pieces, romances and other songs in Judeo-Spanish from Turkey and the Balkans as they were recorded in the first three decades of the 20th century. In this format, these songs and prayers were probably heard in the private homes, synagogues, social gatherings and cafés of Sephardic Jews in the late Ottoman Empire.

The present recording was twenty years in the making and was made possible thanks to Joel Bresler, the founder of www.sephardicmusic.org. Bresler collected Haim Effendi's 78 rpm records from various sources and initiated their digitization. Dr. Rivka Havassy from Bar-Ilan University and Prof. Edwin Seroussi from Hebrew University added extensive notes on Haim's life and work.

Price: $30 (4 CDs plus 100 pp. booklet)
The recording is available at the “Eight Note” stores throughout Israel or At the Jewish Music Research Centre through the website, www.jewish-music.huji.ac.il, or by mail, at POB 39105, Jerusalem. Israel 91390. You can order by fax, at: 972-2-5611156

Joel Bresler adds: "The notes by Dr. Havassi and Prof. Edwin Seroussi are truly a landmark." Anyone who knows of the work of these scholars will find this likely to be an understatement.

Bios of Jewish musicians in Poland between the two World Wars

From Helen Winkler, back in mid-December, comes this gem from Jewishgen.org:

I came a cross a website today that give bios of various Jewish musicians in Poland between WW1&2—Thought it might be of interest.

Jewish Music in Poland between the World Wars. It is a partial translation of a book written in Yiddish originally.

There's a very moving section that talks about a musician, Jakob Glatstein, who led a children's choir in the Warsaw Ghetto, including a photo of the choir. (scroll down a short way)

Lori Cahan-Simon adds some additional resources:

I've been wanting information on just some of these people! I have the Jakob Glatstein 1918 book Di fraye muze and am so glad to know something more about both the book and the author/composer. Does anyone know anything about the music and school books of CJSZO (The Central Organization of Yiddish Schools ) or the Tzisha shuln in Poyln? I know about Israel Glatstein's Gezang un Shpil, Warsaw, 1920s, but haven't seen a copy yet.

Speaking of Poland and Yiddish, have you all heard about the hundreds of Yiddish books online to view for free from the Polish National Library? www.polona.pl/dlibra/editionindex?startint=110&dirids=31

KlezKanada 2009 scholarship applications now available online

KlezKanada logo
Note only are the scholarship applications online, but the application can actually be filled out online.

I look forward to seeing new and familiar faces this coming summer!

January 17, 2009

New Debbie Friedman CD, "Shacharit"

cd coverAs 2008 comes to a close, we find ourselves living amid much uncertainty. So many of us are worried; about our finances, our security, our future. From the beginning of my career, I have tried to help people see how prayer can be a source of comfort in both good times and bad. This is particularly the case with my latest CD, As You Go On Your Way: Shacharit - The Morning Prayers (available at www.debbiefriedman.com), which I hope will give people the opportunity to pray in an intimate and personal way with the goal of helping them get through these difficult times.

I want to help people to begin their day with an open heart; to learn to pray in a comfortable, non-threatening way. Maybe, they'll first experience the CD as music but, over time, they may learn the prayers. Now, when so many are feeling anxious and stressed, the comfort and sense of peace that prayer brings can be a wonderful experience; the perfect way to begin the day.

I hope that 2009 brings all of you much joy, peace and good fortune….As you go on your way,

KlezKanada 2009 announced, August 24-August 30 2009

KlezKanada logo
Dear KlezKanada family,

With the start of 2009, we begin the intense work that creates KlezKanada's summer institute. The dramatic changes in the world today certainly have brought much change and stress. It is our mission to keep KlezKanada as an anchor in our lives, a continuing center and community devoted to Yiddish culture, music, dance and arts.

This summer we will focus on our core program, drawing on the wealth of resources available to us in North America. The brilyantl, the shining gem of KlezKanada, is our scholarship program. KlezKanada's scholarship program has nurtured and inspired leading young artists. Groups such as SoCalled, Shtreiml, Beyond the Pale, the Michael Winograd Ensemble, Dan Kahn's Painted Bird and Lithuanian Empire, have had a significant impact on the Klezmer scene in Canada, the United States and Europe. Sisters of Sheynville, featuring several of our scholarship students, won Vocal Group of the Year in the Canadian Folk Music Awards. We plan to highlight the work and performance of many of these young artists at this summer's institute.

In the current economic climate, it is essential that we be frugal and plan carefully. We will pause our international outreach program in 2009, looking forward to future East Meets West, Israel Outreach Initiative and more international programs in years to come. The new initiatives from 2008, such as the KlezKanada Winter Session, must also wait. Significant discussions are underway for new programs in Montreal. We hope to share news of them soon.

We welcome you to join us again at the KlezKanada 2009. While the detailed program will be available later in the spring, register now to help assure the success of this year's program. Online registration is available at www.klezkanada.org

Whether or not you can attend this year, you can help us by sharing your KlezKanada experience with family, friends and organizations with which you are involved. Our community continues to form new and deep friendships, and strengthens family ties among two, three, and even four generations. Please expect another message from us in a week or two that you can print, forward and share to help assure full attendance at KlezKanada 2009.

A sheynem dank,
Hy Goldman, Chair
Jeff Warschauer, Artistic Director

Alberta Hunter: "Ikh hob dikh tsufil lib"

The late, wonderful, great Alberta Hunter on Dick Cavett's show, singing a song she says she learned in Jerusalem:

"Ikh hob dikh tsufil lib" is followed by her amazing "Sweet Georgia Brown", "We'll understand better bye and bye" and a short "I've got rhythm." Phew. Hunter was a good enough singer when she was young. But the post-retirement Alberta Hunter who returned to music was one of the world's treasures.

Cuban Jewish Music update

I wrote about this project a month or so ago. Here is an update from Roberto Rodriguez:

Dear Friends,

Some of you may know that I have been working over the past year with a Sephardic singer, Sarah Aroeste, on a project of original Sephardic-themed, Cuban-inspired songs. The project is very exciting for both of us. One of our songs was recently selected as a Finalist in the prestigious Festiladino competition in Israel. Sarah and I recently traveled to Cuba and were fortunate to be able to perform our songs for the Cuban Jewish communities in Havana. This was obviously a very meaningful experience for me, both personally and professionally, as a Cuban-born musician who values so much the Jewish musical and cultural traditions. During our transformative experience performing together in Havana, Sarah and I became all too aware that the communities have minimal exposure to Jewish culture beyond their island. And they have hardly any access to music and all the creativity that has been brewing in the Jewish music world over the last many years. One community we visited only had one single Jewish music recording at their disposal.

In light of our commitment to our collaboration, and the resilience and many possibilities that exist for the Jewish communities of Cuba, Sarah and I have decided to launch an initiative that we hope you will consider participating in. We have decided to help build up a JEWISH MUSIC LIBRARY, to be housed in the main Jewish community center in Havana with plans to have the collection travel throughout the island. We are currently accepting both financial, as well as MUSIC donations. We are asking our friends to donate Jewish music CDs or songbooks to the project. The next shipment will be going to Cuba in February, so we are looking to get music donations in the next six weeks (the next shipment will likely be early spring...). We need to receive donations for this round by mid January. If you would like to participate, shipments should be sent directly to:

Aroeste Music LLC
Attn: Cuban Jewish Music Project
255 W 108th St., #5B
New York, NY 10025

And if you (or someone you think might be interestedplease feel free to spread the word!!) would like to make a financial contribution to help support this important project to help keep Cuban Jewish music and culture alive, please click this link to make a secure donation (via paypal or credit card) through our fiscal sponsor, Deep Listening Institute. All donations are tax-deductible.

Thank you for any music donations or support you can provide! You will be contributing to a cause that will bring music and light to a community desperately in need. Your music will definitely make an impact there.

With much thanks and respect,
Roberto (and Sarah Aroeste)

Henry Sapoznik to be visiting scholar

From Hank Sapoznik:

… as of next week I'll be hanging out my shingle as "Visiting Scholar" of Yiddish-American Culture at the The Mosse-Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies University of Wisconsin, Madison for the spring semester. I'll not only be teaching a course on Yiddish-American culture but bringing out one of our KlezKamp Roadshows, running an academic conference on Jewish continuity and other exciting cultural arts programs.

For more info go here: www.arts.wisc.edu/artsinstitute/IAR/sapoznik/

"The Arab Real Book" - a boon for fans of Middle Eastern Book

Binyomin Ginzberg spotted this one:.

book coverI found an interesting book series during my recent visit to Israel and thought this might well be of interest to list members.

It's a series of books called "The Real Arab Book—For All Oriental Instruments", and it is modeled on the classic jazz "Real Book."

There are two volumes that I'm aware of. I've found a link to an Israeli music bookstore carrying these (Safir music store on Rehov Ben Yehudah). I picked them up locally.

Here are links to Book 1 and Book 2. The version I bought is a revised 2006 version.

In addition to the sheet music, the books also have brief explanatory sections in Hebrew on Arabic song form, the various scales/modes used, etc. The song titles are written in Hebrew and English (and often Arabic too). The index is in Hebrew and English.

I linked to the Music Bookshop website because they have scans of the index available for viewing. You can find it by clicking on the link "לחץ לצפיה בתוכן העניינים" to the left of the cover image on that site. They don't appear to have an English version of their site.

I haven't had a chance to play through these yet, but on quick perusal, I see that includes some specifically Jewish songs like Tzur Mishelo (aka Los Bilibicos), and Yehallel Niv Sefatenu, among others.

It may be possible to get the books directly from the author, E-mail Jacob Nakov

Pesakh Fiszman, z"l

Pesakh Fiszman photo, courtesy Bob BlacksbergPesakh Fiszman was one of the nicest people, and one of the fiercest advocates of using Yiddish, I have known. Yet, he could also give an entire lecture on the history of klezmer, almost entirely in Yiddish, such that a non-Yiddish-speaking audience understood it easily. He will be missed very much.

The following was pass to the Jewish-Music list from Jeff Warschauer, conveying words by Kolya Borodulin

Pesach was a very dear friend, teacher, mentor and hero to Deborah, to me, and to countless others throughout the world.

Boruch Dayan Emes.

From Kolya Borodulin:

We are saddened to inform you that our dear friend and teacher, Pesah Fiszman passed away Friday 1 am. As per his wishes there will be only a graveside burial at Mount Hebron cemetery (13004 Horace Harding Expy Flushing, NY 11367) at 1 pm.

We are planning a memorial for our beloved Pesah and will notify you shortly.

Mit tifn troyer zogn mir on az undzer tayerer khaver un lerer, Pesah Fishman iz geshtorbn Fraytik 1 banakht. Loyt zayn onzog veln levaye un kvure opgerikht vern afn besoylem Mount Hebron (13004 Horace Harding Expy Flushing, NY 11367) 1 nokh mitog.

Mir planirin a haskore nokh undzer Peysakhn gor in gikhn un vel aykh lozn visn.

Mitarbeter un studentn fun “Arbeter Ring”

From Miryam-Khaye Seigel:

Ot iz nokh a tsugob informatsye (untn), vegn dem zuntik dem 18tn ven me vet im mekaber zayn.

Oyb ir vilt mit mir un Esther-Malke Goodman drukn a troyer-anons in Forverts, zayt azoy gut un shtelt zikh in kontakt mit mir.

Zoln ale gefinen a treyst in der shverer sho.

From Theresa Tova:

Dos is azoy troyerik tsu hern.
Pesakh hot gehat azoy fil derheretz far yedn yidish reder.
Un hot gelernt undz shtendik mit a vitz un a gitn mayse tsu dertsayln

My g-d he will be missed!

January 10, 2009

7th Annual KlezmerQuerque, Albuquerque, NM Feb 12-15, 2009

Albuquerque, New Mexico USA, January 7th, 2009 -- The Southwest’s 7th Celebration of Klezmer Music and Dance-- KLEZMERQUERQUE 2009-- presents 4 days of concerts, dance parties, classes and workshops featuring the world-renowned Strauss/Warschauer Klezmer Duo—Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer; the acclaimed dancer, choreographer, dance scholar and historian Judith Brin Ingber, as well as many local artists. ‘Klezmer’ is the music and dance of the Jewish people of Eastern Europe which is currently enjoying a revival in the world music scene as well as in popular music and culture. The annual festival will take place from February 12-15 (Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon) at Albuquerque’s Congregation Nahalat Shalom which is located on 3606 Rio Grande Blvd. NW (between Candelaria & Griegos).

For detailed information about class times, prices, tickets & registration:
Beth Cohen, Klezmerquerque coordinator (505) 243-6276 and/or
The non-profit and tax-exempt Congregation Nahalat Shalom: (505) 343-8227

January 7, 2009

Music, Jews, and Arabs - a common ground

This from Eva Broman on the Jewish-Music list. Commentary Eva's, from last month:

I came across a few clips that give a picture of the relations between Jewish Israelis and Arab Israelis which differs quite a lot from the ones we're used to seeing. The clips show Arab singers performing for Israeli Jewish audiences, as well as Israeli Jewish singers appearing in front of enthusiastic Arab audiences.

The first one is from a live show with Druze singer Sharif, in a Jewish club:

On 16-Jan-2009, I got an email from "Michael" giving further details: "The village where Avi Biter is singing is Jisr Az-Zarqa, between Caesaria and Zikhron Yaacov on the Mediterranean coast." Thank you!

Tamir Gal and Avi Biter performing at Arabic "chatunot" in Ramallah and a Palestinian village (I couldn't catch the name):

Both Avi Biter and Tamir Gal have stayed close to their Middle Eastern roots in their music, often recording Hebrew versions of Turkish and Arab tunes. Both of them also include songs in Arabic, at least in their 'live' performances...which explains their popularity among Israeli Arabs.

What strikes me is that the mode of enjoying yourself and showing affection for the performer doesn't differ that much between Israeli Mizrahim and Palestinian Israelis...in fact, I have seen quite a few 'live' shows in Israeli clubs where fans would jump onstage to embrace and kiss the singer, just like the Palestinian "hatan" in the Avi Biter clip. The main difference would be the absence of women at the Arabic "haflas".

Regardless of what you might think of the music (in Israel it would probably be considered "low class"), it's an interesting grass roots phenomenon.

A second yiddish opera to premiere from Daniel Galay

Lori Cahan-Simon spotted this nifty bit of news in the Jerusalem Post. It's Galay's 2nd yiddish opera in just a couple of years:

Yiddish Opera to Premiere Soon, by Greer Fay Cashman. It's not your grandmother's story line, I don't think: "[it] revolves around an incestuous relationship between a brother and a sister, Itche and Adela, who succeed in concealing their secret from the world…. [more]

Three Yiddish Divas coming to my home town, Mar 21-22, 2009

This is early notice, but I gotta warn you—get tix now before this sells out. (and if it doesn't sell out? shame on us—I mean, look at what we're talking about):

3 yiddish divasThe Jewish Theatre of New England at the Leventhal-Sidman Jewish Community Center

Saturday, March 21, 8pm Sunday, March 22 2pm

Theresa Tova (Jazz-Cabaret Diva), Joanne Borts (Theatre Diva) and Adrienne Cooper (Concert Stage Diva) blend their multilingual repertoire and phenomenal talents into a sophisticated, emotionally charged and stunningly powerful concert.

These outstanding stars of Yiddish cabaret pour passion and artistry into Yiddish jazz, cabaret and theatre songs—including an unforgettable repertoire of the Yiddish theatre greats who inspired modern Broadway.

JPlanet Jazz describes THERESA TOVA as a "towering, pan-cultural jazz-cabaret diva." In one phrase the essence of a career that spans over 25 years is aptly described but remains incomplete. An award winning actor, singer and writer, she is a "classy, jazzy and deliciously sensuous performer."

Joanne Borts is one of New York’s favourite theatre and cabaret artists with a catalogue that embraces American Standards and the rich traditions of the Yiddish Theatre. Inspired by Fanny Brice, Molly Picon and Bette Midler, this multi-talented Broadway Dynamo delivers a sexy, energetic and humor-filled evening of song and dance that bridges the gap between American musical theatre and her Yiddish roots.

Internationally recognized as one of this generation's stellar performers of Yiddish vocal music, ADRIENNE COOPER appears on concert, theatre, and club stages around the world. Her singing has been featured on some twenty recordings as well as on film, TV and radio.

"The Three Yiddish Divas are the cream of the Yiddish crop. Daring, creative, and downright beautiful. They can sing like you never heard before. A sophisticated, entertaining combination that brings together three of the most talented performers on the Yiddish Stage." —Mitch Smolkin, former Artistic Director of the Ashkenaz Festival

Travelogue of last fall - Brian Bender in Europe

We're still catching up from months ago and spent a few minutes reading up on Brian Bender's trip to Europe last fall, posted to klezmerodyssey.blogspot.com.


Y-Love teams up with Crown Heights soul rapper 'Describe'


The BBC, Italy's La Repubblica, and XXL magazine have all featured Brooklyn-based MC Y-Love and his multilingual approach to hip-hop. Y-Love's 2008 debut album This is Babylon is still garnering praise for its mix of hip-hop, reggae, and r&b with global accents, but Y-Love isn't resting. Now, he's teaming up with Crown Heights collaborator DeScribe to give a fresh musical take on the most powerful word of 2009. Their new single "Change" mixes Y-Love's militant mysticism with the plaintive urgency of DeScribe's singing. Combining a driving, radio-ready beat, produced by Prodezra, and subject matter few dare to touch, "Change" truly stands out on the path from old to new.

"Change" is the first in the series of four songs that comprise "The Change EP", by DeScribe & Y-Love, to be released on Modular Moods/Shemspeed. One song will be released per month beginning with "Change", produced by Prodezra. Pick up each song on iTunes and catch the music video for "Change" on youtube beginning January 20th.

All updated info will be at www.shemspeed.com/change

January 4, 2009

Free Jewish Sheet Music

This was sent in time to be helpful for Chanukah—but music for other holidays should be available soon, so bookmark the site:

Free downloadable Jewish sheet music for Chanukah with melody line, Hebrew text, English translation & transliteration. Enjoy singing with your family or congregation: excellent for sing-alongs. Great supplementation for Jewish homeschoolers & Bar/Bat Mitzvah preparation. I will be adding music for Shabbat & the other holidays soon. hebrewthroughsong.blogspot.com

Patricia Baumhoff

Yom Tov Ehrlich celebrated

Itzik Gottesman noticed this wonderful article: Yom Tov Ehrlich: Willamsburg’s Poet Laureate: Yom Tov Ehrlich by Michael Casper, from the local newspaper, the Brooklyn Rail

Video: Buenos Aires Klezmer Festival

There is an ear-splitting promo video of this past September's Klezmer Festival in Argentina , 15 to 21 September 2008 at the festival website, www.klezfiesta.com.ar. It's not the same as viewing live clips, but both the video, and the festival, are exciting, nonetheless.

I note that the Bellingham, Washington-based "Millie and the Mentshn" are among the festival participants!

Adam Stinga, trumpet, w/ Other Europeans Project

From bassist-at-large Mark Rubin comes this video:

A snippet featuring the amazing Moldavian trumpeter Adam Stinga from Yiddish Summer Weimar.

January 3, 2009

Henryk Halkowski, z"l

I met Henryk back in 1996, on the recommendation of Pearl Gluck. He gave me a wonderful tour of Kazmierz in Krakow and was a lovely person to have met. It is with great sadness that I pass on this message from Ruth Ellen Gruber

Henryk Halkowski, from Sam GruberI am sad to pass on news of the sudden death in Krakow of Henryk Halkowski, a true custodian of Jewish memory in the city, whom many list member will have met during the Festival of Jewish Culture or on other visits. He had a heart attack Thursday night, around midnight. He had just turned 57.

The funeral will be Monday at noon, with a gathering afterward at the Klezmer Hojs. Malgosia Ornat, of Klezmer Hojs and Austeria press, said: "It was such a shock for all of us. Kazimierz will never be the same without him and all his craziness. We will miss him a lot. He was so important for Jewish life in Kraków and a certain period of its revival is gone for ever."

A suggestion has been made to start a scholarship fund in Henryk's name, to further the kinds of study on Jewish culture and heritage (particularly regarding Krakow) that he loved. (But nothing has been organized yet.....it's too soon...)

For Polish-speakers, ZNAK has run an obit, at www.znak.org.pl/index.php?t=ludzie&id=261 and I know that I and others will be writing pieces too.

Ruth Ellen Gruber

Another obituary and a picture can be found in a posting by Ruth's brother Sam samgrubersjewishartmonuments.blogspot.com/2009/01/poland-krakows-henryk-halkowski-dies-of.html

From Yale Strom:

Tzvi (Henryk) and YaleThe news of Henryk's death both shocks and saddens me. I've known Henryk (or Tsvi, as I always called him) since 1984. Tsvi, along with Jerzy Kirchler and Joasia Swieciki (my former wife), formed the nucleus of the revival of Yiddish culture in Krakow before the wall came down. This was 6 years before the first Krakow Jewish Festival. After Jerzy moved to Wroclaw and took over the leadership of the Jewish club there, Tsvi became the leader of the Jewish club of Krakow. All my forays to Krakow over 20 years included visits and meals with Tsvi, and a performance and lecture at his club. Tsvi represented a group of young Jews - almost a forgotten generation - born to survivors in the late 40's-early 50's, who for myriad reasons never married. An only son, Tsvi was extraordinarily loyal and devoted to his parents, and then to his mother once his father passed away. Tsvi was offered a scholarship to study and lecture at NYU, but turned it down to stay with his mother, who was originally from Vienna. Tsvi is featured in several of my documentary films, because he was, in my opinion, the most knowledgeable Jew about Krakow Jewish history and folklore. After the wall came down and with the seeds of Jewish culture sprouting, Tsvi was an integral part of this movement. He was linked with the Jewish festival, where he gave insightful commentary (often at an RPM that rivals my own) on papers he'd written, including several of his books. He was able to bridge the divide between the old Jews of Krakow, who had a certain amount of power and status in the 1970's and '80's and the new Jews who participated in the revival. I last saw Tsvi in September of 2008, when he gave me his usual pungent and satirical historical insight into the erection of the new apartment building that will shamefully tower over the Remuh's cemetery. As I had every other time since 1984, I walked away from this meeting laughing and crying and savoring our conversation. Wherever one walked in Kaczimiercz, regardless of the time of day or night (and Tsvi particularly liked to walk the streets at night), you couldn't help but run into him, then have a drink, then have a meal. I endearingly called him "The Mayor of Kaczimiercz". Tsvi's last project was editing Khasidic stories of the Bratslaver Rebe and we talked about this over latkes at the Klezmer-Hois. His intellect was eclipsed only by his gentle sweetness. His ghost, like so many others, will hover over Krakow. The world will truly miss this "pintele Yid".

Indiana University Jewish sacred music program scholarship

Four-year scholarship for incoming freshmen beginning Fall 2009
The Selma Lee Mervis Young Scholarship (up to $10,000 for freshman year and up to $15,000 for next 3 years) for Jewish Sacred Music students

The Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University is pleased to announce an inaugural four-year scholarship for incoming freshmen beginning in Fall 2009: The Selma Lee Mervis Young Scholarship. Students interested in a career in the cantorate and committed to pursing the Jewish Sacred Music Program as Jewish Studies majors or Jacobs School of Music vocal performance majors may apply for the Selma Lee Mervis Young Scholarship. For more information about the Jewish sacred music program, see: www.indiana.edu/~jsp/pre-cantorial.html. For information about admission to Indiana University, see: www.indiana.edu/~iuadmit/freshmen/. For information about application to the Jacobs School of Music, see: www.music.indiana.edu/admissions/.

The scholarships are only available to students entering IU Bloomington directly from high school and beginning as freshmen.

The Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University is one of the largest and most vibrant undergraduate programs in Jewish Studies in the U.S. Founded in 1973, the program draws on the talents of faculty members from eleven different departments. The primary focus of the program is the education of undergraduate students.

Selection Criteria

Candidates will be considered on the basis of outstanding academic and personal achievement. Students should have a GPA of 3.4 or above and have a record of academic and extracurricular accomplishment.

Application Procedure

Please submit a cover letter providing name, address, telephone number, e-mail address, with a signed statement of commitment to pursue either the Sacred Music curriculum as a Jewish Studies major or as a Jacobs School of Music vocal performance major; a high school transcript; a personal statement that addresses plans for academic work at Indiana University and the specific way that Jewish Studies will figure in the applicant?s undergraduate education and career plans; a resume detailing extracurricular activities, awards, and honors; and, two letters of recommendation. (At least one of the two recommendations must come from a high school teacher well acquainted with the student?s academic strengths and should focus on the student?s academic abilities.) SAT/ACT scores will also be considered. Applicants need only submit them during the IU application process. Applicants will be considered for all appropriate scholarships.

Application Deadline

Applications must be received on or before Friday, March 6, 2009.

Announcement of Scholarship Prizes

The scholarship winners will be announced in May of 2009.

Mail completed applications to Jewish Studies Freshmen Scholarship Competition, Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program, Indiana University, Goodbody Hall 326, 1011 E. Third Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7005. Phone (812) 855-0453, FAX (812) 855-4314. Submission of transcripts and recommendations should be sent directly to the Jewish Studies Program. For more information about the Borns Jewish Studies Program at Indiana University visit our website at www.indiana.edu/~jsp/.

Summer Internships available at National Yiddish Book Center - Feb 2 application deadline

Yiddish Summer Internships at the National Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, MA. Outstanding opportunity for full-time college and graduate students. The Steiner Internship Program is now accepting applications for summer 2009. Eighteen students will be selected to study Yiddish language and culture, pursue a research or translation project, and delve into the Book Center's comprehensive collection of over a million Yiddish books. No prior knowledge of Yiddish required.

June 14-July 24, 2009
Free tuition – six undergraduate credits
Limited housing subsidies available

Visit www.yiddishsummer.org to learn more and apply today

Application deadline: February 2, 2009

"Tanzhoyz" live and well in Germany; Boston next?

Günther Schöller writes to the Jewish-Music list, in response to the growing US "tanzhoyz" movement:

The "Tanzhoyz Movement" is also strong in Germany and Austria. On the following website (which is in German only) you can find information about "Tanzhoyz" events that happen on a regular basis: www.klezmertanz.de/klezmertanz/tanztermine.php

Currently there are "Tanzhoyzer" listed in Berlin, Bonn, Karlsruhe, Nuremberg, Offenbach and Vienna.

The Forward: article on Serge Gainsbourg

Eliezer Kaplan forwarded a link to this fascinating article on the life of French-Jewish composer Serge Gainsbourg: The Man With the Yellow Star: The Jewish Life of Serge Gainsbourg.

"Arise!," from Sy Kushner

cd coverNulite Music, formerly Kush Publications, proudly announces the release of "Arise! New Jewish Music by Sy Kushner". This is the first of a series of albums to be released containing original compositions by Sy Kushner. Performing on this CD are some of New York's top klezmer musicians. Also available is a book by the same name of transcribed music from the CD. Sy writes, "This CD, the first of a series, was influenced by a lifetime of experiences, of lows and highs, of despair and hope, of darkness and light. There are many musical influences on my work, from Chassidic, Israeli, klezmer and Mideastern, to Irish, African, Latin and avant-garde. I hope that listening to this music will bring you the same degree of reflection, joy, light, and hope for the future that it has brought me in composing and performing it".

For more information, visit Nulite Music, Inc.

January 1, 2009

Yiddis video from down under

Lionel Mrocki, of the Australian klezmer supergroup Klezmania writes:

My nephew has uploaded 2 video clips that the "yiddish rock band" Flamen recorded in yiddish revival city of Melbourne in 1986.

The first song "Zibn Teg" won second prize in the Charlotte Yiddish Folk Song Contest in 1987. (I still have a photocopy of the United Carolina Bank check from the Charlotte Yiddish Institute)

I squirm when I see or even think about these clips, the production was all done gratis and it shows, but they're part of my history

Flamen - Zibn Teg (7 Days)

Flamen - Unter A Grin Beymele (Under A Green Tree)

And, bringing us up to current times, here is a first recording by Yiddish Choir Melbourne with a number that has probably never been heard before in international Yiddish circles:

Ghettoplotz: Jew Many DJs - Music Video Mashup

Continuing our quick catch up from around the world, the DJ's from the UK's GhettoPlotz presents their own take on the world of Yiddish music, this time, in a mere five minutes—but with video!

Moussa Berlin live in Jerusalem

So, you just heard Pete Sokolow doing some very American-style klezmer. Now, by way of contrast, the great Moussa Berlin wails away in Jerusalem on "Bar Yohai nigunim".

Pete Sokolow tears up Tarras' Rumeinishe Freilakhs

Michael Winograd posts this great video from a recent gig by the Tarras Band: "The Tarras Band plays the music of Dave Tarras (no way!!!) featuring Peter Sokolow on piano, Ben Holmes on Trumpet, Michael Winograd on Clarinet, Jim Guttman on Bass, Richie Barshay and David Licht on Drums. Here Mr. Sokolow tears it up on an old klezmer standard "

Diwon: The Beat Guide to Yiddish

From our friends over at Shemspeed.com comes this wonderful "beat guide to Yiddish" mixed by Diwon. It's 25 minutes of gems like you've never heard them:

coverDiwon has produced countless electro and hip hop mixes. His use of traditional Yemenite and Sephardic music, however, sets him apart from other artists in the genre. Influenced heavily by his family's roots in Yemen, Ethiopia and Israel, the multicultural maestro is always full of suprises and his latest release, The Beat Guide to Yiddish, is no exception. Diwon's Beat Guide mixes some of his own music into forgotten sounds from Eastern Europe.

Download the mix for free and hear Yiddish in a way you would have never thought possible. Included on the mix are sounds from; Gershon Kingsley, Jewdyssee, Sam Medoff, Lipa, Seymour Rechtzeit and a few other gems.

"Save the Music" brings digital Jewish music collection online

Peter, of the Aaron Lebedeff site, spotted this interesting source of digitized, out-of-print Jewish recordings: savethemusic.com

The website states that it exists to:

Save the Music is a 501c3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of cultural music through its digitization and placement on the Internet. Founded by Roman Ajzen a few years ago, Save the Music has already become the leading collector of Jewish Music LP's in the world. Just as important is our goal to become a virtual meeting place for performers to interact and post upcoming concerts, events and releases. We aim to preserve the past and assist its renaissance in the future.

Alas, some things (low pay for cantors; low pay for Jewish musicians) don't seem to change

Marvin Margoshes posts to the Jewish-Music list:

There was some discussion recently of ways that makers of Jewish music are being squeezed financially. Those on this mail list may want to read about the abuse of cantors by synagogues in New York in 1917-1918.

My uncle, Samuel Margoshes, was one of the authors of a study called "The Jewish Communal Register of New York City, 1917-1918. The whole book can be read at books.google.com/books?id=ptPTTkYiLNAC&printsec=frontcover. A chapter, starting on p. 301, "The Cantors and Their Problem", is by N. Avromson, the President of the Jewish Cantors Association. It describes how congregations in New York City used a series of trial performances to get cantors to lead services without pay. Avromson also describes how short term contracts were used to keep cantorial pay low. According the Avromson, the old tradition was for cantors to have life-time appointments, with a pension for their widows. Also, if a son was qualified, he would have first claim to replace his father.

Over 1000 entries in KlezmerShack musicians database

In the run up to the new year, I passed a small milestone. There are now over 1000 entries in the database that stores email addresses for people doing Jewish music. The database was created about five years ago to combat spam attacks against any listings on the web that include email addresses. By storing email addresses outside the website, we made it safe for bands, organizations, and individuals to provide working email addresses without fear of them being harvested by the "spam 'bots"—our small contribution to sanity in helping the people who make and support the music we love with the rest of the world.

Some of those addresses, of course, are now inactive. Many were entered for one-time events. And, the form used to send email is showing its age--it doesn't yet understand from Unicode or characters not in the simplest "ASCII" character set. Change is on the way, however. In a web 2.0 world, there are better services that the KlezmerShack can offer, and it will soon be possible for me to get out of the way between people, their listings, and keeping them current. Look for a new "calendar" in the next few months, followed by a very new KlezmerShack.

I so love this secular New Year—a bit of time off from work, and no cultural or religious or family obligations in the way! Okay, back to catching up on those listings I've been bragging about. I'm up to September 2008….

Elaine Hoffman-Watts: Girls Don't Play Drums

Keith Wolzinger posted this last week—I believe it is the first video cast by his wife, Renah Wolzinger. From the content, it looks as though this was recorded at KlezKanada last summer. For more on mothers who play drums, see a video from earlier this fall.

Watch the new short documentary film by Renah Wolzinger about legendary Klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman-Watts:

There's even more video of Elaine from the Philadelphia Folklore Project: Women Play Klezmer

"Celebrate the Dream", NYC, with Abraham Inc

Alan Watsky posted notice of this event to the Jewish-Music mailing list. The event is free, but Alan says that an RSVP is required. I cannot find a way to RSVP on the website, so check in with Symphony Space to be sure. The event is sure to have extra resonance this year, and Abraham Inc is an exciting ensemble.

Mon, Jan 19 at 6:30 pm
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
Symphony Space,
Free and open to the public .

Honor the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King, on the eve of this historic presidential inauguration, with a celebratory night of music. Abraham, Inc. inspires audiences with their unique blend of the sounds and cultures of renowned trombonist Fred Wesley, who has worked extensively with James Brown, klezmer clarinet virtuoso David Krakauer, and beat architect Socalled.


Shirim Khadashim - a new Jewish music blog is born

Anyone who has been following Jewish music knows of George Robinson's reviews in the Jewish Week and elsewhere. He has a knowledge and a breadth of interest that make everything he writes worth reading. Now, we are freed from the constraints of what print publications deem timely to put online. As of the first minutes of this morning, the first day of the secular year 2009, we welcome a brand new blog, Shirim Khadashim—New Jewish Songs.

The blog opens with a post about "why" a new Jewish blog, now, and teases us with George's 10-best lists from 2006 and 2007. More to come. Indeed.

Welcome to the KlezmerShack blog roll, George (and to the blog rolls of all who are interested in Jewish music)!