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December 20, 2013

Two House Parties

This has been a wonderful week for music. I was too tired to attend the KlezWoods Christmas Klezmer Special (hint: holding me to attend events that begin at my bedtime is iffy), much as I would love to see them back where it all began, at the Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge. But they have neat shows planned for January (see the KlezmerShack world Jewish music calendar) so I am sure to see them soon.

But, this past Saturday night, motzei shabbes, I was treated to a rare local performance—the week's first house party by Alicia Jo Rabins. With her husband, Aaron, she presented a wonderful, midrashic evening full of "Girls in Trouble," including some very new stories that will be featured on a third album in the series. For those unfamilar with "Girls in Trouble," it is a program that grew out of a Masters Thesis at JTA in which Rabins tells the story of women in the Bible. Her use of both literal text and midrash to explicate the lives of women, both well-known (e.g., the prophetess Miriam) and obscure (Tamar), coupled with very American music make for a delicious concert To listen to midrash about Biblical women during this season of lights is also very special. Nah, the truth is, Girls in Trouble give good concert. The rest is just, um, midrash. You can find out more about the project at the Girls in Trouble website.

Wednesday night, we hosted Canadian ethnomusicologist Judith Cohen at our own home. As usually happens, people from all walks of life attended, and the event was just as lively for the conversations that took place after the lecture/performance as people discovered new connections amongst themselves, as for the event itself, which extended long past the scheduled stop time. Cohen reflected on her work in North Africa, Israel, Europe, and back home in Canada, gathering songs and stories. We followed the same song through several languages. We spent a lot of time on variants of the "guy goes off to war, comes back seven years later, and what happens when he tests his wife's faithfulness and feelings." Alas, in all of the variants, there appear to be none in which the woman says, "fuck you for abandoning me for seven years and then having the gall to test my fidelity get lost." There are, however, some in which she says, "well, too bad. I'm married with four kids now. Shoulda stayed home." It's a start.

As tends to happen when the speaker has done field research around the globe, she was also able to dig up songs from town and regions whence came several members of the audience. There were also some singalongs, and, happily, no performance of "Cuando el rey nimrod" (or other chestnuts). Cohen did point out that a song about the birth of the founder of the Hebrew people that refers to the "Jewish Quarter" does lack a certain amount of credibility, overall--but does reflect the song's own origins outside of Jewish tradition.

This morning, Henry Goldberg sent a list of links to follow up on some of the discussion. I post them here for those who were (or weren't) there, for following up further.

  • "Judith mentioned the National Authority for Ladino and postings on youtube—if you search for: Autoridad Nasionala del Ladino i su Kultura you will find many postings
    – some are interviews with Sephardim (in Judeo-Espanyol); – some are songs, including the singalong songs
  • if you search for: שרים בלאדינו you will get those most directly, but they have a number of other videos that are songs with lyrics that one can sing with. This one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=szYhwb8mq0g is a long posting with 8 different songs.
  • Judith also mentioned the songs collected by Susana Weich-Shahak—and there are a number of examples posted on youtube. You can search for: Susana Weich-Shahak or שושנה וייך-שחק those come up.

Judith did recover from her travels, and adds to the above:

Here's a link to one of my general articles on Sephardic music—most of my articles aren't online (or maybe they are and I just don't know—it happens.) This one is from the SIbE online journal TRANS (SIbE is Sociedad Iberica de Etnomusicología): www.redalyc.org/pdf/822/82220947013.pdf

"Revival," by Scott Alarik

Was just reading a new-to-me novel by local writer about traditional music, Scott Alarik. It's called "Revival." Not a bad novel. A very good bit of writing about what folk traditions are and why they matter--just the sort of thing that people involved in traditional Jewish music, for instance, and its evolution might enjoy. One quote in particular articulated something that I have thought about for years without being able to put it into words: "tradition is another word for community."

December 12, 2013

more praise for "Joy of Klez" charts

No other klezmer book seems to get as much praise over the years. Here's another enthusiastic customer:

I think the Joy of Klez are tops and want to support Lori and the Maxwell St gang. I have a quartet at Tree of Life in Columbia Congregation, SC and Rabbi Sherman has been great in hosting us. We play mostly contemporary Klezmer from Daniel Galay but add traditional tunes and use the Joy of Klez books.

From my own experience in playing Klezmer, the Joy of Klez books are the best. The score provided allows adding instrumentation, but the supplied parts for violin/flute/mandolin, clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, bass and piano are very well written, easy to read and not difficult. Best is the fact that CDs are available to hear this music played in style. I am waiting for a second album.

A dank

Bill Campbell
Columbia, SC

To order the books from Tara Music, see: www.jewishmusic.com/search?q=joy+of+klez

Anakronic Elektro Orkestra released Bagelman sisters remix

Nostalgia is alive and well and remixed!

Crowdfunding #2: Boston Jewish Music Festival

Joey and Jim have taken an idea I had (as, apparently, had they and many others) and turned it into a really fine reality. I am so grateful. I hope you'll join me in supporting them meet this challenge and move the BJMF to the next level.

The Boston Jewish Music Festival Fund for the Future Challenge

Catching up #2: Hankus Netsky in the "Forward 50" for 2013

I meant to make a bigger deal of this. Now it's old news and the KlezmerShack hasn't even mentioned this. But it is a big deal. Hankus has mentored hundreds (thousands?) of amazing musicians over the years. If there is a cool project around town, he is probably part of it—often, unheralded. He continues to bring new musicians, to uncover scintillating old, forgotten music and put it back in our repertoire, and most of all, he remains a mensh making great music and getting us to dance. He has been a key figure in the klezmer/yiddish revival. Hard to beat that, and it's about time someone noticed:

Forward 50, 2013: Hankus Netsky

When superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and celebrity cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot appeared at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in February, their musical director was hardly at the top of the bill. That is par for the course for Hankus Netsky, who helped mastermind Perlman and Helfgot's "Eternal Echoes" project. For more than 30 years, Netsky, 58, has been a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music…. [more]

Crowdfunding #1: Recatalyze Zeek

Despite the fact that Zeek magazine almost never posts something explicitly about Jewish music, they do post a lot of thoughtful, interesting stuff on that intersection between Judaism and change. Back when they were doing print, they even put together the only anthology of new Jewish music by a Jewish magazine worth listening to. (We can all name several not worth listening to.) I love them. I'm putting on my "to do" list that I should help them cure their lack of coverage of Jewish Music. In the meantime, though, it would be great if we helped get them moving again. I'd like to recommend joining me in this "Recatalyze Zeek" campaign:

Recatalyze Zeek

Catching up: Klezmatics given Lifetime Achievement Award at YIVO

This happened back on November 21, but it's still cool:

Klezmatics given lifetime achievement award at YIVO, by Jon Kalish

In the mid 1980s several key figures in the klezmer revival movement had day jobs at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. So, perhaps it was only fitting that The Klezmatics were given a lifetime achievement award at YIVO's Manhattan headquarters November 19. After cocktails and dinner at the Center for Jewish History's atrium on West 16th Street, the band performed a lively set in an auditorium after being introduced by Jeffrey Shandler, chair of the Jewish Studies department at Rutgers University…. [more]

new Winograd, et al, collaboration, Sandaraa!

I can't believe that I had to be prodded by Keith Wolzinger, of the Klezmer Podcast, to actually sit still and listen to this. Actually, I can't sit still while listening. Have you ever wondered what Bollywood films might sound like if the soundtracks were played by really amazing klezmorim? Yes, it might be this good. You can find out more about the band at www.sandaraa.com. Be sure to "like" them on Facebook:

December 5, 2013

A cure for too much of that other December holiday

Thanksgiving is gone, and we don't have Chanukah to hide behind any more. The best cure I know of is to bring out this video, surely posted here often, of Jewlia Eisenberg, left coast vocal genius, and Kugelplex:

Should that not be enough, you can always try "Oy to the World," but don't say I didn't warn you!

Chana Mlotek, z"l, memorial, NYC, Dec 8, 2013

Chana MlotekCelebrating Chana Mlotek, z"l

Please join the Mlotek family with The National Yiddish Theatre - Folksbiene in honoring the memory of Chana Mlotek z"l as people from all walks of life from the YIVO Institute to multiple personalities of the Entertainment Industry share their stories in celebrating the life & accomplishments of the beloved author, archivist, lifelong activist for the preservation Yiddish music and culture.

December 8, 6:30PM (doors open at 6PM)
YIVO Institute
15 West 16th St
NY, NY 10011

Seating is limited and on a first come, first served basis. Please contact Jackie Kostalos with your reservations.

If you cannot attend the memorial, but would've liked to be present, a livestream webcast will air here, and can be adjusted to view full screen.

December 4, 2013

From Moussa Berlin

החליל ומה אומרות ענייך The flute + Shneiorot