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May 31, 2009

A blast from the past - "Mazl," by the Ravens

Lori Lippitz of Chicago's Maxwell St. Klezmer spotted this. It's not on the CD, but I am pretty sure that this is also covered by Paul Shapiro's "Brisket 'n' Ribs Revue" group in concert:

Elizabeth Schwartz, Yale Strom, and more

A couple of clips from 2008 Radu Gabrea documentary film, "Romania, Romania: Searching For Schwartz" about which I know nothing, other than Elizabeth Schwartz (whose voice is featured on both of these particular clips) having alerted me about the YouTube videos. There is a whole series. Enjoy.

May 30, 2009

JMI London KlezFest, Aug 9-14, 2009

festival logoJMI KlezFest London 9—14 August 2009 An internationally recognized largely European faculty, led by New York ace trumpeter, Frank London (Klezmatics) will provide an intensive and inspiring week-long summer School in London of Eastern European Jewish Music for amateur and professional instrumentalists, singers and dancers of all backgrounds. All participants, from 16 – to 86, will be taken on a klezmer journey in workshops and masterclasses on repertoire, rhythm, style and ornamentation ideally suited to their ability, experience and interests. This year there will be opportunities to work in groups – creating together and managing the dynamics of the group as well as special sessions on stage presentation by opera coach Jennifer Hamilton. There will be strands to train students in playing klezmer music for traditional dancing and on learning how to teach klezmer in workshop situations – broadening it out into the community. Guy Schalom’s popular Percussion workshops will be back as will the famous KlezFest Choir with Polina Shepherd. Bands who come together as a group will have opportunities of Masterclasses with faculty members and to perform out and about in London. Sophie Solomon, (London) Christian Dawid and Sanne Moreicke (Khupe, Berlin), Lorin Sklamberg New York, Ilana Cravitz (London) Author of How to Play Klezmer Fiddle (OUP), Abigail Wood (Head of Music and Lecturer in Klezmer/ Jewish Music at SOAS), Paul Tkachenko and Monica Acosta, will lead workshops and ensembles including special ones in Balkan beats, Nigunim, Chassidic klezmer, Yiddish and Ladino song and Andreas Schmitges with Guy and Emma Stiman will lead the dance strand. This year KlezFest, which takes place at the University of London on SOAS’s Vernon Square Campus, is reaching out into London bringing Klezmer to the wider community with live performances at City Hall, the Brunei Gallery at SOAS, St Pancras Station, Richmond Synagogue and the South Bank Centre and we will be eating and playing at cafes and bars in the evenings. Students will be given a copy of Ilana Cravitz OUP book ‘a how-to guide’ or a song book and can mix and match between playing, singing and dancing in a week that will once more be heart-warming, unstoppable, exhausting, fantastic and fun!!! There are lower prices this year! JMI is also running its, now famous, one week Yiddish language and culture course Ot Azoy! – this is the way to speak, read and write Yiddish in a week!! This takes place the week prior to KlezFest from Sunday 2 – Friday 7 August. Book online (www.jmi.org.uk) or write to: JMI P O Box 232, Harrow, Middlesex, HA1 2NN

Punk Torah Commentary

Found on the Teruah blog a couple of months ago—must post!

Sam Glaser in NJ shabbaton fundraiser for Dubiecko cemetery fund


Sam GlaserFriday, August 7 & Saturday, August 8, 2009
Flemington Jewish Community Center
5 Sergeantsville Road, Flemington, NJ 08822

Friday, August 7th , starting at 7:30 PM
Enter into Shabbat with a joyous Kabbalat Shabbat and Evening service, followed by a festive Shabbat dinner, with study and singing.

Saturday, August 8th, starting at 9:15 AM
Stay connected with your Shabbat Soul with Shabbat services. Sam Glaser will present the Dvar Torah after the Torah service. Services will be followed by a Kiddush luncheon, followed by study and some more singing!

Shabbat Afternoon, starting at 6:00
Children's programming- Sam will teach some songs to the children who will later participate in the Saturday Night concert after Havdalah.
At 7:00, Sam will again lead a study and discussion group on "Attitude of Gratitude"- the theme of his most recent CD of the Psalms of Hallel.

Satruday evening, starting at 7:30
Mincha service, followed by Seudat Sh'lishit, the Third Meal of Shabbat, followed by study and EVEN MORE SINGING! Then we will have the Shabbat evening service and Havdalah.

Motzei Shabbat, approximately 9:00:
Special Guest: Adrianne Greenbaum of KlezmerFlute - Nationally and internationally known klezmer musician and teacher.

All this for a requested donation of $18 per person, $36 per family. All proceeds go to support the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in Dubiecko, Poland- one of the "Lost Jewish communities" of Polish Galicia - through a program of the American Joint Distribution Committee.

Call (908) 782-6410 for further information

Want to be a Shabbaton Sponsor?

We are looking for Sponsoring donors willing to contribute $180 per person or business to underwrite the costs of this wonderful community learning opportunity. The more sponsorships we have to meet programming costs, the greater the donation that can be made to the American Joint Distribution Committee to restore and maintain a Jewish cemetery in a once vibrant Jewish community. These communities, once bright lights of Jewish life, were snuffed out by the Nazis from 1939 to 1943.

As we rejoice with music and tradition, we can provide the dignity that once graced the hallowed ground of the Jewish Cemetery of Dubiecko, Poland, re-mark names for those who once had matzevot - grave stones - that now level the road to the San River, and where 160 innocent victims are buried in a mass grave.

All sponsors will be noted on all programs, promotional materials, and press releases. Sponsorship checks should be made out to:

FJCC Rabbi's Discretionary Fund: Dubiecko Cemetery Fund
And mailed with the name(s) as you would want it to appear in the program and advance releases to:
Flemington Jewish Community Center
5 Sergeantsville Road
Flemington, NJ 08822 Att.: Rabbi's Fund- Dubiecko Cemetery
(908) 782-6410

KlezKamp Roadshop Madison Dance Party

So what goes on late at night at those KlezKamp roadshows? Mark Rubin provides some documentation from last month's KlezKamp Roadshow in Madison, WI. YouTube's "byray" writes:

Part 1 of the Sunday night dance at Temple Beth Israel Center, Sunday April 19th, 2009, Madison Wisconsin. The Kamp was led by UW Artist In Residence Henry Sapoznik, who was still at the movie "His People" when the band started. Aaron Alexander on drums, Dan Blacksberg on trombone, Josh Horowitz on button accordion, Mark Rubin on bass and tuba, Cookie Segelstein on fiddle and Michael Winograd on clarinet. The dances were led by Steve Weintraub. I filmed until my arm grew sore and my feet refused to stay still. So I put down my camera and joined the dance!

Hip Hop Hoodíos’ “Carne Masada” Debuts at #8 on iTunes Alternativo Chart

CD cover'><em>From the masters of Jewish Latino Hip Hop!</em></p>
<p>Critically-Acclaimed Latino-Jewish Urban/Alternative Collective Extends Groundbreaking ‘Reverse Madoff Digital Money Back Guarantee’ for Consumers In Wake of Album’s iTunes Success</p>

<p>Featuring the New Single “Times Square (1989)” and Guest Performances from Members of Ozomatli, The Klezmatics, The Pinker Tones, Delinquent Habits & Los Abandoned, the New Album Is Generating Early Spins from KPFK (Los Angeles), KPFT (Houston), CD 101 (Columbus), and WRVU (Nashville)</p>

<p>Hip Hop Hoodíos (‘hoodio’ is a play on the word “judío”, Spanish for ‘Jewish’) is back with the new bilingual single “Times Square (1989)”, an old school-flavored homage to pre-gentrified Manhattan that is sure to win over fans of The Beastie Boys, Public Enemy and Jurassic 5.  “Carne Masada: Quite Possibly the Very Best of Hip Hop Hoodíos” (April 28th iTunes exclusive release; May 12th CD * other digital stores) is the first-ever ‘Best of’ collection -- including 5 new tracks -- from the critically-acclaimed Latino-Jewish urban collective. Hip Hop Hoodíos’ latest release on Jazzheads Records features guest participation from members of such major Latin & Jewish acts as Ozomatli, The Klezmatics, The Pinker Tones, Delinquent Habits, Los Mocosos, and Los Abandoned. The album spans the group’s entire career and also includes liner notes written by the (soon-to-no-longer-be) esteemed Rolling Stone/LA Times music critic Ernesto Lechner.</p>

<p><a href=You can download the radio-friendly version of the band's new single, "times Square (1989)", or check out the whole album online.

Margot Leverett w/Brown University wind ensemble

For those who missed seeing Margot Leverett solo last month with some special compositions, including a new piece by Matt McGarrell of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony, there is a second chance:

Matt McGarrell's wonderful arrangement of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony. which I performed last month with the Brown University wind symphony. I love the arrangement. It was such a pleasure to work with them.

The video does look like it was recorded on cellphone, but the sound quality is decent:

Sway Machinery "EP of the month" project

Jeremiah Lockwood, of The Sway Machinery, sends this recent email. If you have caught the band live recently taking cantorial music to primal therapy places it may never have gone before, you'll know why this is such an appealing idea:

For years now I've holed up in a basement in Greenpoint that I rent from my friend Veronica. It's in this space that I write new material for The Sway Machinery, practice the band, do my research and development and generally hide away from the world and delve down into the gutter of my subconscious.

It's been a bit quiet with the band lately (although we will soon be starting up playing a bunch of exciting summer festivals). I've been thinking that I would like to invite the world down into my basement to hear the work I'm doing developing new sounds.

I am going to record an EP length CD of new music every month for six months--demos of new songs, solo blues performance, research into Classics of Chazzanus, experimentation of various stripes and colors. These EPs will be available to the public on a sunscription basis: for 50 bucks a subscriber will receive a limited edition EP-length CD with hand made cover in the mail every month for six months, June through December.

Drop me a line if you are interested in becoming a subscriber!

Greg Wall & Hasidic New Wave are fighting cancer with song - and they aren't the only ones

So, I get this email, 'Greg Wall and Hasidic New Wave Are Fighting Cancer with Song...Pioneers for a Cure.

That's pretty cool. It's a pretty cool song, but if you take a look, you'll see that a host of artists from Smadar Levi to Tovah Feldshuh to Alicia Svigals to Y-Love and Diwon are torturing, er, re-imagining old Israeli "pioneer" songs that we learned at summer camp or on kibbutz, into ways to contribute money for cancer research. Not a bad thing (and, thinking of some of the horrible things we used to do to צאנה צאנה in my dorm room at Hebrew U., probably the nicest thing that anyone has done with these songs since the Ethnix remixed "Hey Daroma" back in the '90s.

You can browse the artists and songs online, or just give money without being burdened by the songs. Up to you.

May 29, 2009

First Berkshires Jewish Music Fest, Jun 17-28, 2009

From Cookie Segelstein: Josh Horowitz and I will be teaching at the following festival on the last weekend, on Friday June 26, and Sunday June 28.:

Berkshire Music School Presents The Berkshire¹s First Jewish Music Festival June 17 - 28

The Jewish Music Festival, developed by BMS faculty member, musician & scholar Paul Green, includes lectures, coachings and concerts. This inaugural event will be held from June 17 through June 28 at the BMS Edgar B. Taft Recial Hall, 30 Wendell Avenue in Pittsfield Massachusetts.

Lectures involving Klezmer, classical, jazz and pop music combined with Bernstein and Gershwin will be offered Wednesdays and Thursdays June 17, 18, 24, 25 from 10 am to 11 am. Advance tickets for all four lectures are $40. Individual tickets at the door are $12. The lectures, paired with a June 20 Faculty Concert, are $50.

Paul Green also leads a series of Klezmer coachings by professionals in clarinet, violin and keyboard on Fridays and Sundays June 19, 21, 26, 28. from10 am ­ 12 noon and 2 pm ­ 4 pm. This series is open to mid-level to advanced players, not necessarily experienced in Klezmer playing. Basic improvisation skills are helpful. The fee of $200, includes four coaching sessions, with a minimum enrollment of six students.

A concert by Jewish Music Festival faculty will be presented Saturday, June 20, at 7:30 pm. Admission is $15.

A concert: by Festival students will take place Sunday, June 28, at 3 pm. The event is open to the public, with a donation at the door.

Paul Green was in grammar school music class when he picked up a clarinet. Accomplished at age 13, he was recommended to Leonard Bernstein by Stanley Drucker, the First Clarinetist of the New York Philharmonic. He graduated from Yale with a BA in Theory and Composition in 1970 and continued his studies at Juilliard, receiving an MS degree in performance. He graduated cum laude in from Brooklyn Law School in 1978 and eventually joined the faculty there.

Paul Green is the founder and Artistic Director of the Gold Coast Chamber Music Festival in Delray Beach, and in 2003 he was appointed to the 25th Anniversary Leadership Council of Chamber Music America. In 1997, he concertized in the Middle East as an Artistic Ambassador for the United States Information Agency, and has participated in international festivals of contemporary music throughout the world.

Berkshire Music School is pleased to have Paul Green as a clarinet instructor. A permanent move to the Berkshires is being planned. Presently, Green is a member of the faculties of Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, and Florida International University in Miami, where he teaches clarinet performance and chamber music. He is the founder and Director of Klezmer East, an ensemble in residence at Florida Atlantic University, a founding member of the Florida Woodwind Quintet, also in residence at Florida Atlantic University, and a member of the Nodus Ensemble, a contemporary music group in residence at Florida International University. He is also the Principal Clarinetist of the Miami City Ballet Orchestra, the Boca Raton Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and the Atlantic Classical Orchestra.


This project has been supported by a grant from the Wassermann-Streit Y¹DIYAH Memorial Fund administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation. The aim of the Y'DIYAH Fund (Y'DIYAH, Hebrew for "learning") is to enhance public understanding of diverse aspects of traditional Judaism by supporting a broad variety of non-doctrinaire projects and programs—exercising its motto, "The Greatest Good is Knowledge, the Greatest Evil is Ignorance."

School Info:
Berkshire Music School & Edgar B. Taft Recital Hall
30 Wendell Avenue, Pittsfield, MA 01201
Tel: (413) 442-1411; Fax: (413) 442-4471

Mission Statement:
The mission of the Berkshire Music School is to provide quality education in music and musical opportunities to people in the greater Berkshire community regardless of race, religion, ethnic origin, disability, age, or ability to pay.

We are an independent, nonprofit organization. Full tuition covers only 55 percent of actual expenses. The rest comes from the community: local corporations and small businesses, board members, alumni, parents of students, and our students themselves, who raise scholarship money for others in the annual Music Marathon.

Israeli Marked "Yiddish Day" May 26

Sent in by Simon Rutberg of Hatikvah Music:

Israeli Knesset marks Yiddish Day

For the first time since its founding, the Knesset officially marked Yiddish Language and Culture Day on Tuesday (May 26). A Yiddish-Hebrew Knesset lexicon was released for the occasion.

The date for the parliamentary nod to Yiddish, a language once spoken by more than 12 million Jews, was selected to mark 150 years since the birth of the Yiddish author Shalom Aleichem. This past week was also the 20th anniversary of the founding of Yiddishshpiel, Tel Aviv's all-Yiddish theater.

The day's events included a joint meeting of the Knesset's Absorption, Immigration and Diaspora Committee and the Education and Culture Committee to discuss Yiddish culture. The Knesset also held a special session to discuss the place of Yiddish in modern Israeli society. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Deputy Minister of Pensioners Affairs Leah Ness delivered the main speeches of the session.

Ahead of the unique Knesset session, a lexicon of the Yiddish translations of several key phrases often used by Israeli parliamentarians was distributed to all Knesset members. A few key phrases from the lexicon that veteran MKs may find useful include:

  • Ich hob eich nisht geshtert, toshter nisht mir!—"I didn't interrupt you, don't interrupt me!"
  • Ich ruf eich tzum seder dus ershte mol....—"I am calling you to order for the first time...."
  • Ordners, derveitert im fun zal!—"Ushers, remove him from the hall!"
  • Vehr siz far, zol veilen 'far'. Vehr siz keigen, zol veilen 'keigen'.—"Whoever is in favor, vote 'in favor'. Whoever is opposed, vote 'opposed'."

In the Knesset auditorium, members of the Yiddishshpiel theater troupe performe songs and selected scenes from the Yiddish theater and from Jewish tradition. Throughout the day, the Knesset halls hosted an exhibition from the Shalom Aleichem House, which is dedicated to preserving the author's legacy.

More than 450 people were invited to take part in the Knesset festivities and events.


Behind the cultural initiative stands Knesset Member Lia Shemtov (Israel Beiteinu), chairperson of the Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee, who grew up speaking Yiddish in her family home in the Ukraine.

,p>"This language represents for me the language, culture and history of the Jews of Europe," Shemtov said. "Yiddish is a rich, pungent, humorous, sweet and indulgent language. ...Yiddish, for me, is mein mameloshen, mein tateloshen, mein bubbeloshen und mein zeydeloshen ('my mother tongue, my father tongue, my grandmother tongue and my grandfather tongue')."

The two parties with the most Yiddish speakers, Shemtov said, are Yisrael Beiteinu and the Ashkenazi hareidi-religious United Torah Judaism party. Three Yisrael Beiteinu MKs - Shemtov, Avigdor Lieberman and David Rotem—speak Yiddish, as do all five MKs from UTJ. Other MKs who list Yiddish as an additional language on their official Knesset webpages are Avishai Braverman (Labor), Shai Hermesh (Kadima) and Yaakov "Ketzaleh" Katz (National Union).

Arutz Sheva

Washington Jewish Music Festival kicks off next week: June 4-11

Festival logoThe Washington Jewish Music Festival - 6/4-6/11

The 10th Anniversary Washington Jewish Music Festival brings an exciting mix of sound and energy to DC June 4-11. The Festival kicks off with a Pre-Fest Event with Israel’s Ivri Lider on June 2, followed by the official Opening Night on June 4 with the award-winning Andy Statman Trio. The Festival closes with a bang with Grammy Award winner Miri Ben-Ari: The Hip Hop Violinist. Other performers include: Pitom, The Sway Machinery, Feinsmith Quartet, Electro Morocco, ShirLaLa and The Kinsey Sicks. There's something for everyone during this festival of live performances, hands-on workshops and cross-cultural dialogues. Tickets range from free to $35. For tickets: wjmf.org. For information: 202-777-3251 or wjmf.org.

Frank London Klezmer Brass Allstars coming to Lowell, MA Folk Fest Jul 24-26, 2009

Frank LondonYowza! The same wonderful folk festival that included Steven Greenman just a couple of years ago (and Margot Leverett not long before?) has snagged Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars along with a stunning array of other amazing music from around the world.

Yup, who else but the absolutely free Lowell Folk Festival, held in Lowell, MA this year on Jul 24-26, 2009. From Tuvan throat singing to Congolese dance music to Western Swing, this is the place to be. I intend to be there.

KlezKanada Faculty Announced

KlezKanada logo

From Klezmer revival pioneer Joel Rubin to KlezKanada alum and punk Yiddish chanteur Daniel Kahn and the return of Fima Chorny and Suzanna Ghergus, this year features amazing faculty. This year, the camp runs from Aug 24 - Aug 30. You can register online. Find out more at the KlezKanada website.

Time to register - KlezKanada 2009 is Aug 24-30

KlezKanada logo

Just a quick note to remind people that registration is now open for KlezKanada 2009. The camp runs from Aug 24-30 this year. Because finances are so tight, early, even timely registration is especially important. And of course, if you don't register before camp fills up, you'll miss seeing your friends, not to mention familiar faces such as mine.

You can register for KlezKanada online, even. See you there!

May 26, 2009

The disturbing reappearance of Global Village Music

This is one great source of Yiddish and Klez music I wrote for Whole Earth Review back in 1995. I was a bit less sanguine when I wrote an article for the KlezmerShack back in 1996 or so. Little did I know.

Here's what I do think I know. Back in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Michael Schlesinger (sp?) started a company to make music from other cultures available in record stores. He got great distribution, so far as I could tell, such that I was able to find copies of some amazing LPs--the first Maxwell St. Klezmer recordings, the first Joel Rubin CD (for which I typeset some last minute copy for the cassette spine), the first Alhambra LP? Cassette?

At some point, around the time when I began noticing CD versions of these recordings and began seeking them out, I started hearing from the artists that all was not well. In fact, GVM seemed to be ripping them off. See this letter from the Jewish-Music list, from 1999: "outing" Global Village Music. At some point, Schlesinger stopped paying royalties. Then he made unauthorized CD editions of the recordings giving the artists nothing. My guess, based on a brief correspondence with him in the early part of this decade, is that he put his heart and soul into creating a business that went broke, and that he has been trying to dig out of a hole by stiffing the artists who once trusted him with their work. I don't really know. I did receive this today from one of the artists (another artist's email from today is represented below):

Michael Schlesinger, sole owner of Global Village Music, had a habit of ignoring contracts and never paying royalties to the artists he recorded. Several of us discussed engaging the services of a lawyer experienced in show business issues to sue him, but nobody wanted to invest the money in a project which would probably yield less than the investment. Sadly, Judy Frankel didn't live to see Global Village go out of business.

Today I (and other denizens of the Jewish-Music mailing list) discovered that several Global Village recordings have been available on iTunes since November. These are inferior and unauthorized versions of music for which the artists have not given permission, and for which they are receiving no royalties. I must request that any person interested in material originally recorded on the label contact the artists (many are listed on the KlezmerShack; I would be happy to help locate others) and purchase recordings through them. One artist that I do know wrote today, "Michael Schlesinger taught me some remarkable things about myself--including how I could live with an enormous injustice to my musicians and never succeed in overcoming it despite efforts and money spent." Should this matter be resolved to the artists' satisfaction, I will happily remove this post and replace it with one telling a more positive story. Based on the last 15 years, that seems unlikely.

If you purchase music through Global Village Music, you are screwing the artists whose music you like well enough to purchase. Those recordings are available without their permission and they are earning no royalties. Many have been mistreated by Schlesinger. Don't do it. And if you know anyone working for iTunes, or know how to contact iTunes management about this matter, please let me know so that I can pursue this further.

May 15, 2009

Interesting "Sha Shtil"

Shades of the Sway Machinery. Go an email: "Hi. I thought you might be interested in this video. It's an unusual interpretation." Indeed.

May 4, 2009

Off-topic again - teaching Jews about Judaism

Dr. Judith Cohen has a thought-provoking article on the formerly crypto-Jews of Belmonte. As they learn about Judaism and Jewishness, what models are appropriate? What does it mean to be a Jew, and is the Orthodox model the best, or the only appropriate model? In addition, who decides for a heterogeneous community what "it's" voice is? This is not a new question. Anyone who has encountered Jews in the former Soviet Union is likely to have encountered a similar monopoly on what such Jews are expected to learn and to practice to "return" to the Jewish culture of which they were deprived for so many decades—never mind that it was in their communities that much of the diversity in Ashkenazic culture that we now celebrate, arose. For one more example, I point out isolated Jewish communities in Africa and Asia as similarly isolated culturally, and to whom "one" Judaism is presented as the only valid model.

It is troubling that we have not yet fully accepted diversity amongst ourselves here in the United States (or in Israel, for that matter, where one's options for birth, death, and marriage are limited to approved orthodoxies). It is sad that Jews around the world, where resources are even more constrained, are given so few opportunities to discover themselves in the Jewish community.