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September 28, 2011

Afro-Semitic Experience, "Further Defintions...." featured on NPR

From Davido Chevan, about the new a href="/bands/chevan/further/">Afro-Semitic Experience CD:

A story about the new CD on the NPR News Show, "Tell Me More," aired today. Samples of four tunes from the new CD are being aired along with an interview of Alvin and David by NPR’s Jacki Lyden. I know we cannot get that show anywhere around here but there is a pod cast that you can stream or download (for free!): www.npr.org/2011/09/28/140876465/jewish-new-year-brings-new-music

And if that was not enough NPR has chosen “Adoshem, Adoshem,” one of the tracks on the album to be today’s SONG OF THE DAY!! Here’s a link to that site: www.npr.org/2011/09/28/140875436/afro-semitic-experience-pray-sway-love-the-lord

September 26, 2011

Cantor Sam Weiss: "Carlebach, Neo-Hasidic Music, and Current Liturgical Practice"

It is a measure of my distraction these years, countered by Sam's patience, that this is finally available. Heavily illustrated and footnoted, a version first appeared in "Journal of Synagogue Music," Vol. 34, Fall 2009, published by The Cantors Assembly.

"The 50th anniversary of the release of Haneshomoh Loch, the first record album by Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach, is an opportune time to assess his musical and liturgical legacy....." [more]

You can read all about it at www.klezmershack.com/articles/weiss_s/carlebach/

and a very happy rosh hashana to all....

September 24, 2011

Music to accompany a new year

Tonight, of course, is selichot, the midnight prayers held on the Saturday night before the New Year. With that in mind, I have shuffled the mountains of CDs on the review table and come up with six especially wonderful recordings that most seemed perfect for tonight, and of course, for the new year:

cd coverFirst on the list is last year's long-awaited recording from Adrienne Cooper / Enchanted. I would have reviewed this long ago, but that would have implied that I would put it on the shelf and move on to other CDs that I need to review. No way this CD is unshuffling from the iTunes. Read more, and you'll understand why.

cd coverI couldn't stop kvelling about the Veretski Pass project, "The Klezmer Shul" back when I first saw it live over a year ago. Now the CD is out and you can hear why. A fusion of klezmer and jazz and avant garde modern music, the arrival of this CD a couple of weeks has pushed almost everything else out of mind.

cd coverThis one CD summation of three monster concerts from a year ago, "Further Definitions of the Days of Awe" is a perfect summation of both the Afro-Semitic Experience's wonderful fusion of Jewish and Black sacred music, and the art of the Cantor as mostly represented by the irrepressible Jack Mendelson, but also including several other significant names. And what better time for High Holiday nusakh than the High Holidays?

cd coverAll last year we got periodic new sounds from "The Nigun Project" by Jeremiah Lockwood, commissioned by the Forward. What is most striking is how much ground Lockwood covers in re-imagining the Nigun while also making deep music. I love this one.

cd coverI am a year late in my review, but at least I am right in time for the holidays with this return of Steven Greenman's sacred music persona, Stempenyu. This time, he captures "Stempenyu's Neshome". I typeset and laid out the CD, so it can't be all bad—actually, if I were as good a typesetter as Greenman is a violinist, this would be long out of print. Fortunately, you can still get your copy in time for the holidays.

cd coverWhy? Because if there is one thing that will ensure repentence, and get us in the frame to approach the awe of the approaching holidays, it is a reminder of what makes us happy. This loving 2008 re-release of Danny Rubinstein's original 1958 "The Happy People is all that.

September 22, 2011

Yiddish classes w/Deborah Strauss, NYC, start Sep 25, 2011

Come Play Klezmer with Deborah Strauss at the 92nd Street Y, New York City!
5 Sundays starting September 25, 3-5 pm

All instrumentalists (intermediate and above) are invited to join the kapelye (band) led by international klezmer star-fiddler and educator Deborah Strauss.

For more info and to register go to:

September 10, 2011

Ger Mandolin Orchestra - the documentary

One of the neatest projects to come out of Berkeley's Jewish Music Festival is the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, which has performed at the festival, and this past winter (? spring?), back in Poland. The project was initiated by a descendent of a member of the original Ger Mandolin Orchestra (a century ago, every town&mdashand many US "Workmen's Circle" groups, had mandolin orchestras), Bay Area resident Avner Yonai.

September 9, 2011

This week's hot CD releases--Klezmatics, Afro-Semitic Experience, Yaeko Mirando Elmaleh, Roger Davidson

CDs sometimes come in far faster than I can review them. I am going to try to at least get the word out on these with release dates in the coming week, and hope to catch up with reviews as I can.

cd coverI have already mentioned this new Klezmatics release celebrating their 25th anniversary. The main CD release party is on September 14th in NYC. Let me also repeat that when I first saw the band 15 years or so ago. At that time, as on this CD, the band came out and Lorin launched into a cut off their breakout CD, Jews with Horns, "Man in a Hat." Well, same cut, same energy—or more, and the broadest repertoire of new and traditional Jewish music and Americana played by anyone. You need this CD, and you can get it by doing good: In five days, on September 13th, the Klezmatics either reach their Kickstarter goal of $15,000 to pay for this tour and CD—or they don't. Then what? The band sets up shop as housepainters? That would be bad. Check out the Klezmatics Kickstarter campaign and pledge until it hurts. Make this happen.

cd coverDavid Chevan has been exploring Jewish and Afro-American spiritual music through the lens of jazz, for years. As I love mentioning, my first date with the person who is now my wife was at the CD release of one of his first efforts. The music gets better. David writes: "For most of the past decade the Afro-Semitic Experience has played the midnight Selichot service with Cantor Jack Mendelson at his synagogue in White Plains. We have, in the process, created a new way to accompany cantorial music and we decided to document it. We recorded three concerts in August, 2010 just before the High Holy Days, one in New York City, one in New Haven, Connecticut, and one in Greenfield, Massachusetts. And now that music is ready for you to hear. The new CD is called Further Definitions of the Days of Awe and it features the band with special guests Cantor Jack Mendelson, Cantor Lisa Arbisser, Cantor Erik Contzius, cantorial soloist Danny Mendelson, and trumpeter Frank London. The CD officially drops on Tuesday, September 13, but it is already on sale at iTunes and amazon.com —if you want to hear the music first you can listen to three tracks for free at this website: www.rockpaperscissors.biz/GO/afro-semitic

cd coverIf, like me, you have noticed that the fiery new violinist in the Klezmer Conservatory Band these last few years also seems to be a favored accompaniest and band-member on other Hankus Netsky projects, you won't be surprised that the classically trained violinist's first CD, Yaeko Miranda Elmaleh features a broad spectrum of underplayed, but very traditional klezmer tunes, ranging from the "Philadelphia Sher" (from whom could you have learned that?) to "Meron" and "Kaddish" (okay, this is Ravel), to some Carlebach tunes and "Waltz from the Hills of Manchuria." The CD release party is this Tuesday, Sep 13, in Boston at Club Passim, one of my favorite venues.

cd coverJazzman Roger Davidson explores klezmer with some of my favorite musicians, including Frank London, Josh Horowitz, Khevre graduate and current Klezmatics drummer Richie Barshay, the great Pablo Aslan on bass … and Andy Statman. The territory is relatively familiar, but this is an all-star cast. The CD, On the Road of Life . The release party is September 17th, at Drom, in NYC.

KlezKanada 2011 - Itzik Gottesman's video report

From Pete Rushefsky on the Jewish Music list:

Itzik Gottesman reports on KlezKanada in a nice video here on the Forverts's Youtube page:

September 8, 2011

Somerville, MA Squeezebox Fest, Sat Sep 17, 2011

fest logoIf there is music I love being played somewhere in Boston, the odds are that Michael McLaughlin, of Shirim, Naftule's Dream, KlezWoods, and too many other ensembles, is behind it. So, when he suggests that we might all want to attend this upcoming event, I listen attentively and make plans to be there:

SqueezeBox Slam: Including the Big Stroll & Concert
Saturday, September 17 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm

Be part of the Boston area's first accordion & concertina festival on Sept. 17th! Squeezebox players of all shapes, sizes and musical interests are invited to come to Somerville and play/stroll/set up camp in the city's public spaces and parks from 12-3. No jury, no curation, kind of a flash mob for musicians. We are calling it "The Big Stroll". Then from 3-6 we will be hosting a free concert in Union Square as part of ArtsUnion. Produced by ARTSomerville, the Nave Gallery, and Michael McLaughlin. Made possible because of the awesome support of the Somerville Arts Council.

The Concert at Union Square goes from 3-6.

  • Plamen Karadenov from 3-3:30;
  • Joao Cerilo from 3:30-4:00;
  • Michael McLaughlin 4:00-4:30;
  • Mariache Estampa de America 4:30-5:00;
  • Peter Bufano 5:00-5:30
  • Roberto Cassan 5:30-6:00.

More information about the event, including parking, logistics, etc, can be found via Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=245570485470802

logoFrom Mike Gerber

The latest edition of my Kosher Jam internet radio show, first broadcast on Tuesday 6th September, can now be listened to anytime at: www.ukjazzradio.com/listenagain.htm.

Highlights include: Martial Solal, one of the great jazz pianists, performing live in New York just after the 9/11 terrorist attack; guitarist Michel Sajrawy, a Palestinian from Nazereth, whose albums are collaborations between Palestinian and Israeli Jewish musicians; the late saxophonist Arnie Lawrence, who also strove to bring musicians from these two communities together; and one of the rhythm and blues hits Jerry Leiber, who died last month, co-wrote for the Coasters; and Jewish jazz from Australia.

September 5, 2011

Review of Yale Strom's "Dave Tarras, the King of Klezmer"

book coverI am catching up from a year of overload, it seems. Here is a review of Yale Strom's new book on Dave Tarras—if you look at the KlezmerShack calendar you'll see that Yale is doing some appearances this fall based on the book, so it is still current.

Dave Tarras, the King of Klezmer - by Yale Strom : A book review by Michael Sherman, January 2011.

Many thanks to author Michael Sherman for bringing this to my attention.

Video from Giora Feidman's 75th birthday

From Dobe Ressler, currently visiting Israel:

git a kuk - fayne frumer muzikers fun Medines Yisroyel

Fishel Bresler remarks on the Jewish-Music mailing list:

A sheynem dank, Dobe!

The dance they were doing is (as I understand it) the last remnant of the old "Broiges Tanz," once done by the mothers-in-law at a wedding, now done by two guys instead, fighting (*nebech*) over a bottle...death resulting. Followed, of course, by "t'chies hameisim" *(b'ashkenazit)* - the resurrection-of-the-dead dance. It's not specifically a hassidic custom; I've been asked to play it for litvaks, too.

Welcome to Elul - Free High Holiday music downloads

From Craig Taubman. This download is available for free only in the United States:

We put together a free High Holy Day Music sampler for Amazon. Until Rosh Hashana (Tishrei 1), in honor of Jewels of Elul (www.jewelsofelul.com) you can download all of the songs for free (Alas, Amazon.com limits this to US visitors only). There is an amazingly eclectic mix of music from Josh Nelson, David Broza, Basya Schecter, Alberto Mizrahi and a handful of other artists.

Cantor Sam Weiss, has once again put up a recording of us own:

This one's totally free, all over the world, and available till after Hoshanah Rabbah!

A song for the High Holy Days season based on the Yiddish-Hebrew song "A Mayseh" attributed to the son of Reb Levi-Yitzchak of Berditchev. Complete description, translation and transliteration with the download:


September 4, 2011

Kickstarter3 - bring The Other Europeans to WOMEX

If you aren't familiar with "The Other Europeans" project you have been missing one of the most exciting projects of recent years. They have a delightful CD out ("Almost Bootleg") and give one hell of an intense concert. It was one of the highlights of my life to help bring them to Boston last year and watch a thoroughly excited audience cram into Johnny D's. I'll let Alan Bern take it from here:

many of you already know about The Other Europeans (www.other-europeans-band.eu). It's a truly incredible, 14-piece band playing heartbreaking and virtuosic music that goes back to pre-WWII Bessarabia and a community of professional klezmer (Yiddish) and lautar (Gipsy/Roma) musicians who live and played together for more than a century - a rare, historical example of such close cooperation between these groups. The Other Europeans restores this almost lost heritage to the 21st century.

The project brings together some of today's greatest klezmer and lautar musicians from 8 different countries - Moldova, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Great Britain, the Ukraine & the USA and combines historical and ethnographic research with the highest levels of musicianship. It was only possible to create with the help of funding from the European Union. But now that funding has run out. To continue to exist, we have to connect with agents and festivals and find ways to continue to tour and record. That's no small financial task for a 14-piece international ensemble.

Now we've been invited to play a showcase at the 2011 WOMEX in Copenhagen—by far the most important trade fair for world music. It's the best possible chance for us to attract just the kind of attention and support we need. But first we have to get there! We have to pay our own expenses for travel and accommodations, and we also need to launch our live double-CD at the showcase. To accomplish that, we really need your help.

Some of you are already familiar with Kickstarter. It's an internet site that lets artists raise funds for projects just like this. As a reward for their support, donors also get our music and many other interesting and unique benefits. I've set up a kickstarter campaign for The Other Europeans. If you are already a fan of The Other Europeans, or if this project sounds worthy of support to you, then I hope you'll visit the site below and contribute whatever you can—every little bit helps! Thanks to all of you in advance, and I hope that with your help we can launch The Other Europeans at the WOMEX and visit your area in the near future to play a concert. Here's the Kickstarter website:


Kickstarter2 - help the Klezmatics put out 25th Anniv tour/CD

This one is easy. After all, I already have the CD because I are the KlezmerShack. I first saw the band in the mid-90s, but the concert I remember, the one that blew my mind, was in 1996 in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall. If you help them meet this goal, I'll tell you all about it (your preference--if you'd rather I shut up, I can do that too!). That concert helped kick off the KlezmerShack! What I will tell you now is that they started the concert with "Man in a hat," with almost as much energy as there is on the new CD. The repertoire has grown since then, and the CD features many alumni and friends. And you can take part. Here's their pitch:

To mark its silver anniversary, the band that helped bring klezmer into the 21st century is releasing Live at Town Hall, a sonic souvenir of a remarkable NYC concert. And to help promote this, the Klezmatics’ first self-produced live CD, the Grammy Award-winners are launching their very own Kickstarter campaign. Your generous donation will enable them to cover post-production costs and hire a radio promoter and media publicist to bring the recording not only to those who already love the Klezmatics and klezmer, but also to those who are entirely new to the music.


We are pleased to offer a full length track from the album for your listening pleasure on our website. Click here to listen to Lolly Lo. We'll be releasing another track next week so stay tuned.

California 2012 Yiddish Festival dates announced - interested in helping?

KlezCalifornia's TENTH Yiddish Culture Festival, at JCC San Francisco, President's Day Weekend, February 18-20, 2012! Headlining will be Klez-X, with Daniel Hoffman returning to the Bay Area from Israel, and bringing together Sheldon Brown, Alan Hall, Jeanette Lewicki, Richard Saunders, Stephen Saxon, and Charlie Seavey. Expect a hot klezmer concert on Saturday, February 18, 8:00pm, followed by a klezmer dance party. The best concert tickets are available right now at jccsf.org/arts. Mark your calendar! Invite friends and family to visit for the latest, great weekend celebrating Yiddish in the Bay Area. Lomir aleh freylekh zayn! (Let's have a wonderful time!)

Now, help us plan the Festival:

We encourage you to email us to suggest Festival workshops. Here are workshops we offered at our February 2010 Festival in Palo Alto: For all: Jewish Music Beyond Jewish Life, Yiddish Literature in Translation (2010: Yiddish Epitaphs, Monologues), History of Yiddish Language and Literature, Acting, Papercutting, Amulets, Klezmer/Balkan/Roma Connections, 110 Yiddish Words the Average Puerto Rican New Yorker Knows and You Should be Ashamed if You Don't, World of Our Great-Grandparents, Shared Melodic Repertory of the Yiddish and Greek Worlds, Growing Up With Yiddish, Yiddish Words and Expressions for the 21st Century, Yiddish Film. For singers: Yiddish Love Songs, Yiddish Song Rarities, Master Classes, Sing-Alongs. For dancers: Learn Klezmer Dances, How to Lead Klezmer Dance, Dance Parties. For instrumentalists: Master Classes, Ensembles, Make Them Dance, Klezmer Style/Technique: Melody or Accompaniment, Composing and Improvising, and Klezmer Theory. Want the same? Different workshops? Send us your ideas!

Kickstarter - Arkady Gendler recording still needs a bit more help

From Christian Dawid comes a reminder of another excellent kickstarter project that still needs a bit more help (and if I can work on this with my busted clavicle and grumpiness, all akhat kama v'kama--what is your excuse?!):

We have the rare chance to make CD recordings with Arkady Gendler this coming October. Over the last ten years, Arkady has written a number of beautiful new songs. Most of them have not been recorded yet, some have never been performed in public.

It is Arkady's wish to still see his original work published and accessible to everyone—he is proudly approaching his 90th birthday this fall.

Several of his songs are dedicated to the places and festivals Arkady visited during the last years, songs about Kiev, Vienna, Weimar, his home Zaporozhye and the Dniepr Klezmer Cruise. There is a moving song called "Khaves Tekhter" that he wrote when his wife passed away—it has not been performed yet.

I am now writing arrangements for a small chamber ensemble (piano, vl, va, vcl) plus a few additional instruments - it is a total of twelve songs that Arkady wrote (one has a borrowed melody, for another one he created complementary lyrics). We will record all of his original work, plus a few other favourites.

And yes, we need funding!

While studio costs, tied to successful funding of the entire project, are already secured, we need to raise funds for travel, food & lodging, visa, assistance for Arkady in Vienna, Yiddish documentation, transliteration, translation, the recording musicians, typography and graphic design.

This project is supported by a wonderful group of friends, scholars and artists, many of whom are donating their services, or, were they can't, agreed to more than modest financial conditions.

And you can help us, too!


Curious - but welcome - rerelease dept, Alicia Svigals

cd coverAbout a decade ago, Alicia Svigals recorded a pretty amazing CD of Hassidic nigunim under the name of the "Nikolayev Ensemble." In celebration of the decade since the original re-release, JewishLearningGroup.com maven, Zalmen Goldstein did the impossible: He improved upon the original. The cover is differently cheezy, and he has renamed the bass-player known to most of us as "Marty Confurious," but the production is even better. An unrelated first track by a different ensemble is gone. Aaron Alexander's outstanding drumming was added to the tracks. The result, quite frankly, is quite delicious. If you don't have the original, or if you're ready to compare the two, check out "Chassidic Breeze" (now credited to no ensemble until you get to the website where it is, indeed, credited to the much-missed Ms. Svigals).

If you already know the recording and need read no review, you can purchase it directly from JewishLearningGroup.com. Rosh Hashanah is coming. This could be the soundtrack!

September 1, 2011

no Jewish music in Istanbul? Au contraire!

Alexander Gelfand, a writer that I often admire, has a curious story in this week's Jewish Forward in which he laments the lack of remaining Jewish community in Istanbul. That is true—the Jewish community in Turkey in general, and Istanbul is much diminished. He doesn't mention, but I will, that even the Holocaust had an effect—witness Kurt Waldheim's nasty efforts to help eradicate the Jewish community of Salonica (since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, part of Greece).

But there is so much that is exciting that still remains!

First read the article, "Lost Music of Istanbul's Sephardic Jews", from the Sep 9, 2011 edition, which also contains some excellent pointers to new Sephardic music in US and Israel. Then look at comments by Judith Cohen and myself (and others?). I'll repeat my own comments:

I have several as-yet-unreviewed Jewish recordings made in Istanbul in recent years. Notable among those that I have reviewed are a recording by Hadass Pal Yarden (who also seems to perform locally in Istanbul, and internationally), "Yahudije" or this kid's recording reviewed by Professor Judith Cohen in 2006, "Izzet Bana & Estreyikas d'Estambol / Un Kavretiko".

In short, although the Jewish community in Istanbul is much diminished, it has not vanished and there are some fascinating places still alive and worth exploring.