December 7, 2016

ePRHYME feat. Jon Madof—"Heavy Shtetl"

"Heavy Shtetl" is the second installment in ePRHYME'S series of Rap/Duets, which pair his densely packed poetic rhymes with a solo master instrumentalist.

For "Heavy Shtetl" ePRHYME has teamed up with Zion 80 front-man Jon Madoff to explore the creative process of "making music out of noise."

***Warning from ePRHYME: Acquired taste! Not for everyone.

June 3, 2015

Jewish rapper Y-Love defies stereotypes

Via Clare Kinberg on Facebook. The KlezmerShack reviewed Y-Loves first album, This is Babylon, in 2008:

Jewish rapper Y-Love defines stereotypes: Baltimore native says that just "blending in" was never an option, Elaine Durbach, NJJN, May 27, 2015

Blending in "was never an option," Yitz Jordan says. From the start, beginning his journey to Judaism as a brown-skinned seven-year-old, then becoming a hasidic hip-hop performer, and finally coming out as gay, he was unlike anyone around him.

Better known as Y-Love, the 37-year-old, New York-based performer who describes himself as "trans-Semitic," is sharing what he has learned with young people facing similar challenges. [more]

January 7, 2011

Abraham, Inc video released

of all the incredible CDs on my "review or die" list, the top CD is absolutely the new collaboration between SoCall, David Krakauer, and Fred Wesley, Abraham, Inc. News to you? Check out the first video off the recording, as described by David Krakauer, himself:

"Just wanted to give you a quick heads up about my Band Abraham Inc.'s video "Tweet Tweet."You can see it in advance on Youtube on my channel which is:

I'm extremely proud of this video which is a cutting edge animated piece with artists from around the world contributing their considerable skills to it's production. I hope you take a moment to check it out and comment and hopefully give it a thumbs up.

If you have a YouTube account please subscribe as we're touring Europe in the Spring and should have lots of great videos to share. I'm looking forward to reading your posts in this New Year.

October 23, 2010

Sephardic Music Compilation, vol 1, to be released 11/30/2010

cd coverA mix of traditional, dance, electro, hip hop, and folk songs from around the Sephardic world makes up the Sephardic Music Festival's first compilation album, set for world-wide release on November 30th. Grammy-nominated artist Matisyahu combines a suite of Middle Eastern inspired hip hop riffs with a time-honored Yemenite chorus sung by Yehuda Solomon. Yasmin Levy's impassioned song "Mi Korasón" (My Heart) emphasizes the underappreciated romantic side of the Ladino language. Moshav—an L.A. based group of expatriate Israeli musicians—contributes a powerful rendition of the Yemenite wedding song "Abba Shimon" in Judeo Arabic. In addition, Yair Dalal, the world-renowned Sephardic musician who performed at the 1994 Nobel Peace Prize Gala in Oslo, offers a memorable interpretation of the classic Shabbat song "Ya Ribon."

Like the Sephardic Music Festival itself, this compilation displays the true breadth of Mizrahi and Sephardi creativity through song. The lyrics embrace traditional liturgy and ceremonial texts, love poems and Sabbath songs, personal reflections, and Biblical inspirations. The range of colors, harmonies, and rhythms in the music mirrors the astonishing diversity of Jewish languages and Jewish culture.

For more information, check out the Sephardic Music Festival website

Y-Love radio interview

Jewish hip-hop artist Yitz "Y-Love" Jordan recently returned to Israel for a series of concerts over the Sukkot holiday. He spoke with Israel National News about his new projects, his journey to Judaism and why hip-hop can invigorate Jewish youth.

For video from "The Beat of Israel" click here:

August 6, 2010

New Balkan Beat Box CD - podcast from NPR

Everyone's favorite dance band (at least if "everyone" means everyone in my house) has a new CD out - check it out in this NPR podcast:

Balkan Beat Box: A Fusion Of Cultures

"Balkan Beat Box describes its sound as "globalized urban mash-ups," with brass bands, wedding organs and a rooster's crow all finding a place in their recordings. Although the three band members were raised far from the Balkans, percussionist Tamir Muskat traces the band's inspiration to a childhood that amounted to musical potpourri.... [more on NPR's site]

March 21, 2010

SoCalled documentary now available

See for further information

The “Socalled” Movie is a documentary film about klezmer hip-hop artist Josh Dolgin—aka Socalled. Featuring Katie Moore, Fred Wesley, C-Rayz Walz, David Krakauer, Matt Haimovitz, Arkady Gendler, Benjamin Steiger Levine, D-Shade, Gonzales and Irving Fields. The movie is a kaleidoscopic portrait, offering 18 entertaining short films about Socalled’s creative process.

September 12, 2009

Klezmer Podcast - Watcha Clan - no touring US

I'm a bit late in posting this, but Keith Wolzinger is now doing video podcasts. The latest, #54, covers an interesting French ensemble, the Watcha Clan

Klezmer Podcast 54- Watcha Clan In Los Angeles

August 17, 2009

new video - Hip Hop Hoodíos’ “Times Square (1989)”

Raising the eternal question, is real seediness preferable to Disney veneer? I'm with them—give me seedy instead of Disney. Might feel differently if I lived in the area—until gentrification made the issue moot ;-).

August 3, 2009

SoCalled - You are never alone (live)

I spotted this on Teruah blog. Josh is in fine form performing one of his most original songs—one for which I happen to own an actual LP single.

May 30, 2009

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.

April 5, 2009

New Hoodiíos release, May 12 - "Carne Asada"

It is absolutely true that the Hip Hop Hoodíos were my first favorite Jewish hip hop band—and still the kings of Latino-Jewish hip hop. Whether one EP, one CD, and some very interesting singles merit a retrospective collection is another question. It will certainly be a danceable and good collection. Readers will have to check it out personally. Here's the press release:


Group’s First Career Retrospective Features the New Single “Times Square (1989)” and Guest Performances from Members of Ozomatli, The Klezmatics, The Pinker Tones, Delinquent Habits & Los Abandoned

“Carne Masada: Quite Possibly the Very Best of Hip Hop Hoodíos” (April 28th iTunes; May 12th all other retailers) is the first-ever ‘Best of’ collection—including 5 new tracks—from the critically-acclaimed Latino-Jewish urban collective led by Josh “Josué Noriega” Norek and Abraham Vélez. 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’s first single is the old school-flavored homage to pre-gentrified Manhattan, “Times Square (1989).” 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.


Continue reading "New Hoodiíos release, May 12 - "Carne Asada"" »

Getcher Passover rap right here

from the folks at

poster from shemspeed.comTHE SEFIRA BEAT BOX & RAP ALBUM

The first single, “Watch” is about keeping the history of the Passover alive. Every year the Jewish Nation leaves Egypt; from exile to one step closer to redemption. G-dly things happening—Watch!

Download the Passover song by clicking these words.

Listen to some of the songs @

Buy the CD from Shemspeed, here or on iTunes, here.

February 14, 2009

Valentine's Lecha Dodi

From our friends at shemspeed

Diwon Valentine remix coverValentine's is here and we thought the best way to celebrate was to give you a free download to the "i heart mixtape" of Love Songs mixed by Diwon. Feel free to pass the direct download link to everyone you know, as it is really really good: - Diwon has also just finished his club mix of Akon vs. Benyamin Brody. The song is Lecha Dodi and it's blazin hot, download that below. Besides that, next month we will be releasing "Shir Ha Shirim" by Benyamin Brody, Diwon, & Dugans. The record is an hour long meditation of Moroccan, hip hop, mizrachi music, and rock. We haven't taken it out of our rotation yet and it's been 3 weeks!

Continue reading "Valentine's Lecha Dodi" »

February 7, 2009

new Yiddish rap: Gey nisht avek

Lori Cahan-Simon spotted this one:

A Yiddish rap song by German/Israeli singer Zionlight. The aim is to keep Yiddish alive amongst the younger generation. "Gey nisht avek" (don't go away) is a song dedicated to the Yiddish language, saying don't go away. Read more: Zionlight on MySpace

new video from DeScribe and Y-Love

So, what do you get from two Orthodox Jewish rappers of different backgrounds? A familiar-sounding pitch in new clothing:

Erez, of Shemspeed writes: "we will be releasing one song per month from DeScribe & Y-Love, preview "Make It" which comes out Feb 24th, click to the

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.

January 7, 2009

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

January 1, 2009

Diwon: The Beat Guide to Yiddish

From our friends over at 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.

October 18, 2008

Shemspeed celebrates first anniversary, Nov 18


Mark your iCals! On November 18th Shemspeed will be taking over the hottest new club in town, Le Poisson Rouge for the Shemspeed One Year Anniversary Party! The night will feature Shemspeed's favorite artists including, Electro Morocco, Piamenta, King Django, Diwon, Smadar,, Y-Love, Avi Fox-Rosen, KoshaDillz, Blue Fringe and special guests... Definitely pass this on to your fam/friends/fiends. This is an event that you do not want to miss!

Nov 18th 2008
Doors at 6pm | Show at 7pm
158 Bleeker St, NYC
Buy Tickets at

To ensure a spot and get in for only 10bux, purchase tickets now.

Come celebrate the Anniversary of Shemspeed and the launch of The Shemspeed Daily @

June 29, 2008

Y-Love / This is Babylon

Not bad!My knowledge of rap and hip-hop is extraordinarily limited. Many years ago there were some awful shtick bands replicating every possible to-be-forgotten bad Jewish stereotype using rap. Then we crossed some barrier and it seemed to be part of the vocabulary of Jewish music-makers. We not only got Jewish rappers in the mainstream media, but groups like the Hip-Hop Hoodíos, and Matisyahu, and SoCalled started doing something that sounded like the rap I hear elsewhere, but it had this Jewish content infusion. One of the most fascinating, so far, is a black kid, a convert to chasidism named Y-Love, who has been appearing all over the country, and who seems to have gotten the attention of anyone who pays attention to rap. Now a CD is out and I can hear why. Check it out yourselves, This is Babylon.

June 27, 2008

Shemspeed's Summer Stage, this Sunday, June 29, NYC

truncated posterSUMMER STAGE — June 29th — FREE

Shemspeed is throwing the biggest summer party possible with Summer Stage in Central Park for FREE. The line up includes the world famous MOSH BEN ARI, with Rupa, Y-Love and Diwon.

Get to the park early, as the line tends to get crazy as the day goes on.


Location: Central Park Summer Stage is located at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park. Enter the park at 69th Street and 5th Avenue on the east side or at 72nd Street and Central Park West on the west side.

February 19, 2008

Vote for SoCalled!

Ezra Glinter sent this post to the Jewish-Music list:

Hi folks -

Our friend SoCalled is up for a Montreal International Music Initiative award, and you can influence the results by voting online at

I say, vote early, and vote often! Voting ends Mar 1, 2008.

February 14, 2008

David Krakauer live on the Internet Archive

The Internet Archive is the home to the "Wayback machine" and a host of other imperfectly-maintained archives. So, don't rely on the IA for the long-term preservation of your precious tapes. What you can rely on is that there are millions of digital recordings, from web pages to audio and video, available. Sadly, there is virtually no klezmer (and no much more Jewish music in general). The only thing I could find that was longer than a single clip was this performance/interview by David Krakauer (with SoCalled and the rest of the band circa "Bubbe Meises"). I'd say that this recording, alone, is worth exploring further for. Check it out at

I, myself, have a very few live recordings of various bands created over the years. If you know that I have a recording of your band, and I haven't yet asked, please feel encouraged to email me and let me know that your recordings can be uploaded. It's a great option for me—I have no time to create podcasts, and don't record much because I never have time to listen to the recordings once I've made them. Even getting the recording from DAT or Digital Memory card takes time and energy that I often can't find. But, there should be good, interesting Jewish music that can be found online. I'm happy to help, and even more, I encourage others to participate here, or elsewhere.

February 9, 2008

Mattisyahu article in NY Times, Dec 23, 2007

From my synagogue's email list, Steve Hassan posts:

The Hasidic reggae star Matisyahu, who said he felt “boxed in," For a Singer and a Sect: A Rift Amid the Riffs?, By Alex Mindlin, Dec 23, 2007.

The article describes the singer as having distanced himself from Lubavitch and davenning, instead, at Karlin. It doesn't mention why we haven't heard much from him since he abandoned the label, JDUB, on which he first became famous, for Sony a year or two ago. For background, see a link I posted last year.

August 9, 2007

Hip Hop Hoodíos Partners with Amnesty International for

EP coverI've been a fan of the Hip Hop Hoodíos since their first EP. If the travesty at Guantanemo Bay gets them together with members of Ozomatli and the Klezmatics, more power to all of us (we should, in the future, be celebrating simkhas, instead, bringing us together).

On new single "Viva la Guantanamera", the critically acclaimed Latino-Jewish Urban Collective is joined by members of Grammy-winning acts Ozomatli & The Klezmatics as well as Kemo the Blaxican of Delinquent Habits

Album also features remixes by The Pinker Tones & Leo Sidran (Jorge Drexler, Ana Laan); iTunes and eMusic editions of the 'Viva la Guantanamera EP' each feature exclusive bonus tracks

Latino-Jewish urban collective Hip Hop Hoodíos is back with a new 5-song digital-only release, the 'Viva la Guantanamera EP' (Nacional Records - Aug. 7th, 2007). The post-ethnic merrymakers will be donating 18% of net profits from digital sales of the "Viva la Guantanamera" single to Amnesty International's efforts to close Guantanamo Bay Prison and encourage the full restoration of due process. The song was produced by Wildog of Ozomatli, and is a veritable Latino-Jewish "We are the World"; joining Hip Hop Hoodíos as guests on the track are Wildog, Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg of The Klezmatics, Kemo the Blaxican of Latin hip hop pioneers Delinquent Habits, and instrumentalists Walter Miranda (Beastie Boys, Plastilina Mosh) and Chris Washburne (The Syotos Band, Tito Puente).

Continue reading "Hip Hop Hoodíos Partners with Amnesty International for" »

June 24, 2007

New Review: Balkan Beat Box / Nu*Med

Balkan Beat Box / Nu Med
JDUB Records, Jdub106, 2007
Available from JDub Records
I credit my growing affection for hip hop to the very different efforts of DJ SoCalled and the Balkan Beat Box. In this latest offering, BBB confirm my expectation of pleasure, but now I am a bit more used to the band, the genre. Still, the wonderful melding of rap with balkan melody in rhythm in "Hermetica," say, is proof positive that this a band with lots to say, and lots of new ways in which to say it. Then, in the middle of piece, when the rap switches languages to Hebrew and I realize that I understand exactly what is being vocalized—a 21st century version of the West Side Story's "In America", but conceptually transformed as well. Rap later takes a trip south of the US border with "Mexico City," but again with rhythms from elsewhere.

The whole album is like that—fun rhythms, samples, melodies coupled with interesting words and the whole making a delightful dance stew that answers that need for dance that pulled me into klezmer fandom years ago. This, of course, has nothing to do with klezmer beyond the usual most tenuous link of this review appearing on a website with "klezmer" in its name. Still, my favorites are probably the Bulgarian harmonies of pieces like "Joro Boro."

"Pachima" explores some lovely call-response Middle Eastern twang. "Habibi min zman" takes that Turkish-style twang, but, instead of taking us into traditional territory (as, say, on the most recent Shtreiml outing), the vocals switch to Arabic and the delivery is once again, straight-forward hip hop (even the ululation is filtered through modern electronic gadgetry), and before I know it I'm in straight ahead balkan sax territory—lookout Yuri Yunakov!—and then back again in the Middle East.

Like all the music that makes me happiest, Nu*Med is a melange, a potpourri, in this case, a Jewish-American-Israeli-Balkan-World fusion that never loses sight of fun and infectious rhythm.

June 16, 2007

Ghettoblaster arrived in US, June 12

SoCalled / Ghettoblaster CD coverGhettoblaster just came out in the US on JDub. This is the amazing set of tracks I first heard at KlezKanada a couple of years ago. From the promo email:


… that's how Socalled's new record Ghettoblaster begins. A call to arms—or really—a call away from arms, to set the tone for this thoughtful, yet ridiculous album. Religious systems are fair game, as are crazy collaborations like 92 year old lounge lizard Irving Fields and underground MC C-Rayz Walz, or James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley and a choir of Hasidic children.

Listen to You Are Never Alone

November 27, 2006

CD Review: Balkan Beat Box

nice chicken!Balkan Beat Box JDub Records JD003, 2005.
CD available from
If there is an album that I like as much as Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars, this is it. Balkan Beat Box provides a wonderful fusion of sounds from balkan brass to rai to international hip hop. Like their label-mates DJ SoCalled (but entirely different in sound), BBB pull together a new world folk dance gestalt. Favorite cuts? The incredible middle eastern weave around Victoria Hanna's chant, "Adir Adirim" or the amazing harmonies on "Bulgarian Chicks," the unstoppable beat and cheer of "Sunday Arak," the growling bass and kaval of "Hassan's Mimuna," or the bluesy intro to the "La Bush Resistance" rap ... Stop me before I kvell over each track. If you ask me, world hip hop like BBB and Idan Raichel, SoCalled's new album, and Frank London's (okay, not hip hop) that define the exciting dance music this last couple of years, and I expect, the next years to come. Stay tuned—the band is doing a lot of Hanukkah tours. Could be coming to a town near you real soon. [GRADE: A]

June 4, 2006

New reviews on the KlezmerShack start with Israel music

CD coverIt started with a new Rough Guide release, this time, the Rough Guide to the music of Israel. It is really good. I don't mention it very often, but I first began writing about Jewish music as a reviewer for the Jerusalem Post back in the late 1970s. By then I had spent years doing community theatre and hanging out with musicians in Israel. I didn't write for the Post long—it was difficult to focus on a gig writing for a newspaper that I shunned reading—but I have never lost my love for Israeli music and its diversity. This recording captures a good slice of that diversity, as updated and compiled just a couple of months ago. There is also an interview with the compiler on the CD, playable on a computer via webbrowser. Although a Jewish lad growing up in a Zionist home, the compiler seems ignorant of most details of modern Jewish history. But he has enough generalities generally right that this, too, forms a good introduction to Israeli music, overall. Those who let their ears get them into trouble will dig more deeply.

CD coverThe problem was that I got so wrapped up in the first CD, that I had to spend time with that Idan Raichel CD that I've been meaning to write about for years: 2002's Idan Raichel Project. I find this the most mind-blowing Israeli CD in years. In some ways, it reminds of of Ofra Haza's early work, an explosion of traditional sounds transformed for this time and place. It also reminds me of my favorite Israeli band of the '90s, the Ethnix. But it's also it's own original sound, building on Israeli and world music, with everything from reggae to hip hop, inflected by Raichel's Ethiopian roots. Wonderful.

CD coverBy now I was in trouble, so I also polished off a review of the relatively recent release of the final album by Israeli jazz masters, The Platina: Platina / Girl with the Flaxen Hair. Released back in 2003 as part of tributes to bandleader Roman Kunsman who had just passed away, this is material that was original recording in 1976 and then lost. The studio mangled most of the original tapes, then the band broke up. And we all moved on, remembering the concerts and the transformed Debussey of the title track. I have tried to begin to describe how good it sounds, even now, 30 years later. This is a must-have CD for anyone remotely interested in jazz or jazz-rock or Debussey.

CD coverThere is something about Philadelphia Jews. I've said this before, but with the release of Klingon Klezmer / Blue Suede Jews, it bears repeating. This is, after all, the home of Benny and the Vilda Chayas. But it's also Hankus Netsky's home turf. It's the city that gave us not only Anthony Coleman, but also nth generation straight-ahead klezmorim like Rachel Lemish and Susan Watts. This latest excursion by the Klingons is a delightful, zany, and damn fine exploriation of the psychedelic side of klezmer.

CD coverThe 10th Anniversary of the first Masada material has prompted a wonderful re-examination of that work by a wide variety of artists. I confess to being among the few who find Zorn's Masada okay, but don't have a great need to own each volume. On the other hand, listening to Jon Madof and his noisemakers, er, Rashanim, transform some of the material is entirely different. 2005's Rashanim / Masada Rock, Vol. 5 is going to be part of your essential Masada collection.

CD coverLadies and gentlemen, for another take on the extraordinary John Zorn/Masada material, may I offer you the totally flipped, amazing Koby Israelite / Orobas: Book of Angels Vol. 4, 2006.

CD coverAnd, finally, in a nod to everything that I didn't have time to listen to today, all of which is at least htis good, I offer one last fusion, the world music band Asefa, house band to Sam Thomas' Brooklyn-based "Jewish Awareness through Music" organization. Samuel Thomas / Asefa, 2005. Same bass-player, incidentally, as with Jon Madof's Rashanim. These folks get around!

I can't believe how many CDs are crying out for attention and didn't get any today. Stay tuned. I'll try to do this again, real soon now. I have to. The pile fell over last week. Everything is confused, and until I get some reviews written and some CDs put away, I've lost use of my favorite reading chair.

April 2, 2006

And now, introducing Gad Elbaz

Eva Broman, following the discussion about Matisyahu on the Jewish-Music list, forwarded this:

After all the discussion about Matisyahu's success, I thought it might be interesting to read about another a young artist that apparently is rocking the Israeli Haredi community, selling in numbers that many secular artists can only dream of in a small market like the Israeli one:

Pop Star Rocks Orthodox Jewish Community by Scott Wilson, Washington Post, Nov 12, 2005

Gad Elbaz is the son of former secular Mizrahi singer Beni Elbaz, who now sings only religious material. I have one of Gad Elbaz's CDs, and I'd say that apart from the lyrics (which are too difficult to understand for my beginner's Hebrew), Elbaz doesn't sound that different from the current crowd of secular artists doing Western rap/R&B/modern pop balladry with a Mizrahi touch. He has also recently recorded a duet with mainstream star Shlomi Shabat (on Shabat's "Chaverim 2").

All this actually reminds me of the successful gospel groups of the seventies (e.g. The Staple Singers) who put religious/spiritual texts to current soul backings, with wah wah guitars and all.

January 27, 2006

Hip Hop Hoodíos nominated for two "Jammy" awards

album coverpassing on an important announcement from the pinche Hoodíos:

The Hip Hop Hoodíos, your favorite Latino-Jewish urban music collective have received TWO nominations for the first-ever "Jammy," the Jewish answer to the Grammy Awards (other nominees include the Beastie Boys, Matisyahu, Guster, and Subliminal). It turns out that Jvibe Magazine launched the campaign for the “Jammy” after being disgusted by the fact that there are currently no less than eight Grammy categories for Christian music, and zero categories for Jewish music. Did the Grammy folks fall asleep at the wheel and fail to notice that Hasidic reggae singer Matisyahu recently sold 300,000 copies of his latest album? Kudos to Jvibe, we applaud your efforts to bring attention to the diversity of good Jewish music being made around the globe.

We hope you'll take a moment to let the Jammy organizers know that you're digging our trilingual mayhem. Hoodíos is nominated in the "Best Jewish Group" and "Best Jewish Album" categories. Please click on the link further below and cast your votes......

January 2, 2006

Matisyahu videos

You know that the world is changing when your rabbi forwards you links to Matisyahu videos:

Jewschool came up with a link to his appearance on the Jimmy Kimmel show a few months ago, as well, while the Albany Times Union published Jewish music strikes a mainstream chord: Hasidic reggae, hip-hop artists inspire a following by melding roots, genres, by Ann Miller, back on October 12. Enjoy.

December 31, 2005

George Robinson: Best Jewish Music Recordings of 2005

album coverGeorge Robinson writes frequently for the Jewish Week. He listens to an incredible diversity of music. Take a read of Five Stars All Around: From chasidic reggae to Golden Age chazanut, the best recordings of 2005, Jewish Week, 12/30/2005 (could this really be? Posting a new review in a timely fashion! I'll try to keep up for a while! Since several of the CDs I've been meaning to review are on this list, I even resolve to catch up here at home!)

December 27, 2005

Hip Hop Hoodios debut "Kike on a Mike" video on

album coverThis is even more fun than the "Ocho Kandelikos" video from last year. Check it out!

Yes, at long last, the 3rd video from our new album has been completed! Directed by Alex Cortez (PBS’ “American Family”), the incendiary clip “Kike on the Mic” follows our travails on the road, and features many lovely surprises. Guaranteed to rile Republicans, meatpackers, and shuffleboard enthusiasts alike.

Check out the uncensored version of “Kike on the Mic” on our Myspace site (, as chances are slim that the major Latin tv networks will air it as-is… (We should add that The Jewish Media Conspiracy has still not returned any of our calls. If anyone has any contacts for us at T.J.M.C., that would be really neat.)


June 20, 2005

DJ SoCalled in Boston - review of a great concert

I have been wanting to write about Josh Dolgin and his music for several months. I've mentioned him in connection with Shtreiml, and I've kvelled over his and Sophie Solomon's "HipHopKhasene". And he's a mensh doing very interesting new music. Then I saw him at a small bar in NYC in February, with a pickup band that included Frank London, Susan Watts, Paul Shapiro, Ron Caswell (or some tuba player doing a Ron Caswell imitation), and Alex Kontorovich. Alicia Jo Rabin and Annette Ezekiel of Golem opened, so there should have been "kol isha" issues, but the crowd consisted of people, mostly in their 20s and 30s, from every walk of life, including hassidim. And it was worth it.

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February 2, 2005

Mattisyahu review from middle America

Cleveland Jewish News photo of MattisyahuBert Stratton calls this article to my attention:

"Forelocks, not dreadlocks for Hasidic hip-hopper," by Ted S. Stratton, Cleveland Jewish News, Jan. 28, 2005

November 21, 2004

Special Hip Hop Hoodios Chanukah offer

this is a CD cover?I have been enjoying the Hip Hop Hoodoíos for a couple of years now. Repeated issues of "Ocho Kandelikos" on compilation albums isn't quite enough. Now, the new, full-length CD is imminent on Jazzhead records. The guest list includes Frank London, Paul Shapiro/Midnight Minyan, members of Santana, Jaguares, and more. The CD even comes with a MONEY-BACK GUARANTEE? For those, like me, who would rather not wait until March for the official release, the band is offering a Chanukah special


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November 23, 2003

New KlezmerShack reviews

There never seems to be time to review everything I'd like to write about. When music this good arises, I find myself listening over and over and forgetting to move on. That's okay. That's why I listen and write in the first place. So, from Australia to Ireland via California and Salonika via NYC, here are the latest. If you are getting an early start on your Chanuka shopping this coming weekend, pay good attention - these are the new musics that folks will be wanting:

a ripe fig. deliciousThe Fig Tree, 2003
This is a delightful collection of Greek, Jewish, and other music, accompanying a book on immigrants to Australia by Arnold Zable. Don't let the distance from Australia stop you from listening to this, hearing the latest from our favorite Australian klezmer bands, and hearing some wonderful other music, as well.

the green of ireland seen through a deep stone windowCeiliZemer / Shalom Ireland, 2003
Continuing the international tour, this soundtrack to a documentary about Jews in Ireland fuses the two musics delightfully. Yes, indeed, think of what hasidic music (and klezmer) might have been like if the uillean pipes had been available in Eastern Europe. There's still time to add them here.

Helvetica. Sheesh. and bits of time and musicDavid Chevan / Days of Awe, 2003
Chevan has gathered his Afro-Semitic Experience, including guitar wizzard Stacy Phillips, and added Frank London. The result is exquisite jazz versions of music from the High Holy Days. If you like this sort of thing (I do), this is definitely the sort of thing that you will like.

The high lonesome wooden synagogueMargot Leverett & the Klezmer Mountain Boys, 2003
Today's theme seems to be fusion music. You got yer Greeks and Klezmers; you got yer Irish and Klezmers. And when you're especially lucky, you got your bluegrass klezmers. But, it's a Margot Leverett album, so you already knew that it would be on your "essential klezmer" list, anyway. I think of Leverett the way I think of Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss - if she's involved, it's not only amazing, but it's comfort music - the perfect accompaniment for when you feel great, and an even better accompaniment for when you need a lift.

  • interesting letter on desert backgroundSarah Aroeste / A la una, 2003
    Mobius, of my favorite Jewish weblog, Jew*School suggested that I write something about these new Sephardic artists. Some I knew. Aroeste's name was unfamiliar. It shouldn't be. This is extraordinary Ladino music, set with contemporary instrumentation and sounds by someone who has worked with good avant garde musicians and knows what good music should sound like. But the critical part is how seamlessly she has kept the feel of traditional Ladino song. This is one of our favorite albums this year. Who knew?

    interested hip hop khasene sceneSolomon & Socalled / HipHopKhasene, 2003
    As much fun as I had writing about everything else, this is my favorite of the bunch. Witty, brilliant, funny, and great music. The album features not only the amazing Socalled, but Oi Va Voi's Sophie Solomon. Guests include David Krakauer, Zev Feldman, Frank London, Michael Alpert, Elaine Hoffman-Watts and daughter Susan... even Jewish-music mailing list regular, Cantor Sam Weiss. Essential for all but the humor-impaired.

  • August 26, 2003

    Hop Hop Hoodios sign national distribution

    faux hebrew lettering, faux puerto rican flagsIn one of the most culturally significant developments since Sandy Koufax bailed on pitching for the Dodgers on Yom Kippur of the 1965 World Series, Hip Hop Hoodios "Raza Hoodia" album has been picked up for national distribution by DLN/Delanuca - which means you can now find it in a lot more places (Tower Records & Virgin Megastores in particular).

    So if you haven't grabbed our CD yet - or know friends, family, or somebody with a lot of money that could use some Latino-Jewish hiphop in their lives - please feel free to have them visit one of the fine stores below. The album is specially-priced at these retailers for just $9.99

    We are hard at work recording the follow up album to 'Raza Hoodia', and are very excited about the guests we've lined up. The sooner you snatch up the remaining copies of 'Raza Hoodia', the quicker we can settle our debts with the IRS, the Mossad, and the entire population of Cameroon and put our next album out with a guilt-free conscience. [I've heard some new tracks, and they are going to be exciting when they come out. I'd pick up the first EP before it disappears! ari]

    Please note: you'll usually find our album stocked in the "Latin Rock" or "Latin Pop" section of these stores

    Also, don't forget the big concert at Joe's Pub, in NYC, on Sep 6.

    June 17, 2003

    Hop Hop Hoodíos on NPR

    band membersThe band is interviewed by NPR's Maria Hinojosa in the last segment on this week's Latino USA show. Nice introduction to the band, and some nice clips. These guys are my favorite Jewish hip hop band, obviously.

    May 24, 2003

    Hop Hop Hoodios on TV

    band membersIt's a first, I think - Jewish hip hop on national television! The band reports:

    "This weekend the syndicated television program Urban Latino TV will air a special segment on Hip Hop Hoodios. Look for Latino-Jewish hiphop to invade the sanctity of your living room on ABC, CBS, or FOX in your city (schedule below)....and to our fans in Los Angeles and San Francisco, we apologize for the unusually early broadcast time - set your VCR's (or drink a case of Red Bull) so you don't miss the show."

    Chicago Sunday (late Saturday night) 12:30AM - CBS ch. 2
    Los Angeles Sunday - 5:30AM ABC ch. 7
    Miami Monday - 2:00AM (late Sunday night) - CBS ch. 4 -
    New York Saturday - 12:00Midnight CBS ch. 2
    San Diego Monday (late Sunday night) 12:30AM FOX ch. 6
    San Francisco Sunday 6:30AM ABC ch. 7

    November 2, 2002

    Hanukkah is coming: Hip Hop Hoodios release "Ocho Kandelikos" video

    Usually we avoid mentioning Hanukkah until the great secular Jewish holiday, Thanksgiving, has passed. But this year, that's when Hanukkah starts. Fortunately, Hip Hop Hoodios, our favorite Spanish-English bilingual Jewish rappers have released the best Ladino Hanukkah hip hop video to date. Forget that. This is the best Hanukkah video to date. It pinche rocks!