January 22, 2018

2017 National Jewish Book Awards: And the winner is ... Joey Weisenberg!

Thanks to Lisa Mayer for posting this information on Facebook.

The National Jewish Book Awards have been announced, and the winner in the category of "Contemporary Jewish Life and Practice" (Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award) is Jewish Music maven Joey Weisenberg, with translations by Joshua Schwartz, for The Torah of Music, from Hadar Press.

A complete list of winners is available from the Jewish Book Council website.

March 22, 2016

"The Big Megillah," a classic from the Austin Klezmorim

One of my favorite all-time recordings comes from the classic Austin Klezmorim album, East of Odessa. With the permission of the band's leader, Bill Averbach, I reprise an mp3 of their classic retelling of the story of Purim in jazz argot, "The Big Megillah." Enjoy.

December 11, 2015

(א׳גיטען חנוכה שלום למר ומקהלת שירה (יידיש Shulem Lemmer, Freilach & Shira - Chanukah Medley

Posted by Benjamin Laden on Facebook. As he says, big hats ... and a big sound

December 15, 2014

Book of J debuts in San Francisco, Dec 17, 2014

Must highlight this event: Two of the most creative people in Jewish music today have come together for an event that resonates deeply with recent events. I'm almost ready to fly to San Francisco and add my voice—you'll have to do it for me.

Book of J

Wednesday, December 17, 7:30pm
Canessa Gallery
708 Montgomery Street
San Francisco, CA

$10-$15 sliding scale, buy here

If you are interested in where old-time religion meets radical politics, Book of J is for you. We do songs that started life in Black and White religious communities and were later adopted by organizers for racial, economic and social justice. In the tradition of the Hebrew prophets, the songs ask for devotion and righteousness and offer power beyond what one still small voice can effect. Expect angels and demons, workers and bosses, hard times resolved and destiny fulfilled. Also singing along is good. Book of J is Jewlia Eisenberg and Jeremiah Lockwood (Sway Machinery).

September 28, 2014

New releases for the Days of Awe

I want to take time out for a few minutes to note the current season and mention a few recent releases that may help get you in the mood for t'shuvah.

CD coverI'll first mention a new instrumental release by Tzadik saxophonist Paul Shapiro / Shofarot Verses. His 2003 "Midnight Minyan" put the daven into jazz. Here he continues that tradition, with some of my favorite Tzadik musicians, including Captain Beefheart alum Marc Ribot on guitar, Brad Jones on bass, and Tony Lewis on drums. From the opening moments of the very season-appropriate "Hashivenu" through the closing "With Reed and Skins" Shapiro manages to combine jazz and a sense of nusach (Ashkenazic Jewish cantorial modes) in ways that seek out that still small voice within us. At the same time, as on "Daven Dance," he reminds us that joy can physically move us. The shofar-like soprano sax impulsion on "Halil," with Ribot's answering guitar is one standout, followed by an actual shofar on "Ashamnu," which takes the familiar Yom Kippur melody to a new place of grace. The album's ethos is perhaps best expressed in the description of "Search your soul," "Finding solace in the house of b-flat." More info at Paul's website. The music is available from Tzadik and the usual disk and MP3 vendors online.

CD coverComing from another place, entirely, (and perhaps exemplifying the difference between the gritty downtown New York scene vs. the spiritual secularism of California's Bay Area) singer/cantor Linda Hirschhorn's voice and words speak directly to those parts of us that aspire to heal and to help a world in need of healing. Her 2013 recording, "Amazed" is also an album with beautiful personal love songs. With an all-star cast, including Holly Near on the backing vocals of the opening hymn, "Amazed," this is just a wonderful album, balm for a "verbissener velt." Tunes range from the folkie to the blues, as on "Some Love," to the hum along inspirational and aspirational, as "Give it all you have." You can listen to samples and purchase the CD from Linda Hirschhorn's website and the usual online vendors.

cd coverSiach Hasadeh is a Montreal-based duo, clarinet and bass, exploring Jewish niggun. Since they also appeared at Ashkenaz 2014, I can also link this set of reviews to my continuing coverage of the standout artists at that festival. Although the music is sweet, the duo explores the rougher sides of harmony as well. There is a delightful tone poem/art song/modern classical dissonance that weaves in and out of these tunes, from the opening "R' Levi Yitzchak Berditchever's Niggun" to "Niggun firn di tsaddikim in gay eyden" or "Rabbeinu's Niggun" featuring Shtreiml masters Jason Rosenblatt on harmonica and Ismail Fencioğlu on oud. For those who enjoy digging deeper and letter ways of niggun wash over them, this is a rich recording. You can read more about the recording on the band's website or purchase it directly from

cd coverThe standout voice, the woman everyone wanted to hear at this year's Ashkenaz Festival was Polina Shepherd. Readers of these pages over the years will not be surprised—you have read reviews of her singing with choirs, with brass bands, with just her husband, Merlin Shepherd, and friends. She plays an amazing piano, but it is her voice that you notice. Amazing range. Beauty, and a force of nature. Born in the former Soviet Union, this recording is a tribute to both her Russian and Yiddish roots. She sings of love and longing, universal yearnings, whether, say, in the Russian "Silver Birch" or the more modern Yiddish of "Birch Tree;" from folk melodies, to Eastern European "scat," here a wordless prayer in "Ay Yay Yay;" whether the text comes from the Song of Songs, "Place me like a seal," her own poetry (most of these pieces), or evokes life, itself, in the Yom Kippur plea, "Avinu Malkeinu" (Our Father, Our King). Shepherd's voice is transformative. More information, and CD purchases from the artist's website.

cd coverThere has been an evolution as Basya Schechter has gone from writing Middle Eastern-inflected folksongs, to someone more involved with rethinking religious poetry. He most recent CD was a recording of her settings of love poems, both to women, and to God (and sometimes, like "Song of Songs," as easily to read as expressing love for both) written in Yiddish by Rabbi A. J. Heschel. This latest recording by Pharaoh's Daughter consists entirely of settings of traditional prayer and piyyut. The music, though, comes from around the world. The opening "Adon Olam" conveys echoes of electronica. The familiar "Maoz Tzur" is rethought with celesta-like keyboard pinpoints, as though to highlight falling snow; in the simplicity of the melody you can hear echoes of a family lighting Hanukkah candles. Likewise, "Ha-nerot Halaluh" contains elements of electronica and metallic percussion and a lively sing-along melody. The title song, for instance, "Dumiya," echoes all of the above, with hints of African rhythm and Middle Eastern flow. The closing "Shebishlifleynu" has a driving, somewhat psychedelic beat. The current season is evoked with light glissando's of sound setting "Zikaron," a poem conveying the awe of standing in front of G-d on Yom Kippur, with a quieter new melody for "P'tach lanu sha'ar" (open a gate for us). If the music of Shlomo Carlebach and Debbie Friedman simplified melodies and invited congregational participation in davenning in new ways, the music of Basya Schechter and Pharaoh's Daughter fuses Sephardic, Ashkenazic, and indeed, world music traditions for a new generation of prayers. It is good to hear such eloquent settings for songs of renewal in this season of awe. Liner notes and more info available on the Pharaoh's Daughter website. You can purchase a copy from

March 7, 2014

New Sam Glaser album, video

From Sam Glaser to the Jewish-Music list:

Shalom Jewish Music Community. I am excited to release the first video from my last album, The Promise. Enjoy!

July 4, 2013

Three Lenka Lichtenberg album reviewed

While you're waiting for the KlezmerShack reviews of these new albums by Lenka Lichtenberg, we've been scooped by "The Whole Note". Three review covers the diversity most recent three CDs, including the newest, a complete departure, "Songs for the Breathing Walls." I say, get the word out, and enjoy.

cd coverPot pouri, Lenka Lichtenberg, by Andrew Timar, June 2, 2013.

"The deeply affecting album Songs for the Breathing Walls refers to the 12 historic synagogues scattered throughout the Czech Republic whose Jewish populations were decimated by the mid-20th century Holocaust. These settings of Jewish liturgical songs reflect the varying onsite interior acoustics of the synagogues, their outside soundscapes (on track 18 Lichtenberg remarks "...birds, cars, bells...everything...") as well as their history, intimately connected to their congregations. [more]

Bonus: The following audio links are from the CD release party:

  • Laska, boze, laska ("a Moravian song that i loved since childhood that i did on a hunch—and people just loved it. i guess something to be said for simplicity...")
  • Di Goldene Pave ("here is Di goldene pave from same concert (poem Simcha Simchovitch—who was there!) … finally i got it right i think. my fourth arrangement of it (it exists on two albums, each totally different, and there was also a never-recorded 4-part arrangement i did for the Sisters of Sheynville …) well here, i dropped all the fancy modulations, time changes and stuff. just added lots of dai dais at the end so peeps would sing along and they did … clearly it's a folk song and i was trying too hard to make it into something that it is not... :-)")

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.

May 22, 2011

JDUB releases free digital Sabbath album

cd coverNew York, NY (April 5th, 2011)-- Walking around a small and dusty record store in Brooklyn one weekend, something odd caught Rob Markoff's eye as he dug through old vinyl: "Sing Out it's Shabbos" was described as "A folk rock Sabbath celebration by the young people of Temple Shaari Emeth, Englishtown, New Jersey." Rob had never seen a record like this before, and he was instantly attracted to the colorized photos splayed across the sleeve in yellow, red and blue, depicting Chuck Taylor-clad teenagers strumming guitars against a curtained backdrop-- a sign above them reading "Give God the Nod." Markoff felt immediately nostalgic for the '70s synagogue of his youth, in which the congregants feathered their hair and the rabbis played guitar and sang in harmony, so he opened his wallet, forked over two bucks, and rushed home to listen.

Sabbapath will be released for free April 5th, 2011 through

Continue reading "JDUB releases free digital Sabbath album" »

April 22, 2011

"Ha Lakhma"

One of my favorite parts of the Passover seder is the prologue, "Ha Lakhma," the verse we sing in Aramaic—the common language, the lingua franca, the language that gave us our modern Hebrew alphabet, the language that was the "English" of that world. The verse basically says, "before we get going, and in language we want to make sure that everyone understands, the first part of this "order," this seder, is to make sure that everyone who is hungry has food; everyone who is needy is having those needs met. When we've taken care of that, we'll take the rest of this show on the road.

I'm not a big fan of the tune that we've been singing in Seders I have attended since childhood. As a "Happy Holiday" gesture, our friends at "Blog in Dm" posted a video of this wonderful new tune for the prologue by Yonatan Raze.

March 29, 2010

Moishe Oysher has fun with "Khad Gadya"

Found by Lori Lippitz of Maxwell St. Klezmer:

Have a sweet Passover and don't o.d. on the matzo brei.

March 22, 2010

Jeremiah Lockwood - Forward's "Artist in Res" - Nigun Project

Jeremiah Lockwood, best known for his work in The Sway Machinery and Balkan Beat Box is this year's Artist in Residence at the Forward. In an article this week he describes, and provides a haunting recording, of his "Nigun Project," a fusion of African singing and nign.

The Nigun Project, by Jeremiah Lockwood, Mar 15, 2010

December 28, 2009

Jews and Christmas ... and Mormons

Most years we Jews guiltily acknowledge that it's true, Jews wrote most of the most insipid popular songs of this once sacred season. This year, to return the favor, Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah wrote an insipid Hanukkah song which has been getting a lot of play. I've been ignoring it, but I just noticed a great catch by Teruah's Jack Zaientz:

December 21, 2009

Something different for the solstice season

Jewlia Eisenberg requested a Hebrew version of "Silent Night" for a video to go with a New Yorker satire (currently unavailable, but linked from Not a great satire, but there are more painful things to read. Happy solstice, everyone.

Anyway, upon reflection, she decided that the issue was not "Christianity" vs. "Judaism" and she came up with a very different video:

"The Great Goddess is still rocking out with her bad self … taking new forms but still connected to that neolithic old-school vibe. Go boobs of Mary! Listen, enjoy, post, celebrate dark nights and solstice"

December 18, 2009

Rootless Cosmopolitan nails it

Like much of the rest of the Jewish world, I have been assaulted by countless copies of the video showing a new shlock Hanukkah (official JWA spelling) song by right wing jerk happenstance Jew (but only the "right" kind of Jews)-lover Orrin Hatch.

I have refrained from mentioning the item on these pages. Now, Rohl Kafrissen puts her finger on what is significant about this recording: turnabout is fair play.

Like Rokhl, my family has managed to forget this new one as we light candles this year, although we've done our usual couple of variants of "Ocho Kandelikos" and the Sephardic version of "Maoz Tzur" that Judy knows....

It all ends tonight and through tomorrow. Enjoy the brightest lights tonight and here's to hoping that Hatch's song joins "Hanukkah with Monica" on the trivial pursuit pile.

November 29, 2009

Sandra Layman in Seattle, WA

This is a very rare public performance by one of the most wonderful klezmer violinists out there. If you're in the area, it's worth stopping by!

Sandra Layman CD, Little BlakckbirdYou're invited!

Sandra Layman will be performing with the Seattle Jewish Chorale and Kesselgarden at a free event on Sunday afternoon, November 29, between 2:00 and 5:00 pm, Barnes and Noble bookstore at University Village, NE Seattle.

It's a "pre-Hanukkah" event, with beautiful choral singing (including a lovely song for women's voices with violin), interludes of rousing klezmer music, and Hanukkah sing-alongs. Drop by, and bring the kids!

It's finally available -- at a special low price for the holiday gift-giving season -- the downloadable (MP3) version of my CD, "Little Blackbird"! Preview and buy it at: Little Blackbird

May 30, 2009

Punk Torah Commentary

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

April 5, 2009

"Freedom Seder" on YouTube

From Art Waskow's Shalom Center:

We have just posted on YouTube part of the only existing film of the original Freedom Seder held on April 4, 1969, the first anniversary of the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, the third night of Passover.

Doing the electronic wizardry necessary to put excerpts from the film on YouTube made it a little darker than the original. But you can clearly see and hear the readings, the comments, the questions, and the joyful responses of hundreds of people of varied racial and religious communities who gathered in a Black church in the heart of Washington DC to celebrate the Seder.

Continue reading ""Freedom Seder" on YouTube" »

Lox & Vodka's Caron Dale / "Havdalah" on YouTube

Lox & Vodka's Caron Dale posts to the Jewish-Music list:

I just wanted to let the list know that I posted my first you tube video. Feel free to check it out when you have a chance:

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.

ברכת החמה

From Moussa Berlin, who plays the lead clarinet:

Our Rabbis taught: He who sees the sun at its turning point, the moon in its power, the planets in their orbits, and the signs of the zodiac in their orderly progress, should say:

Blessed be He who has wrought the work of creation.

And when [does this happen]? — Abaye said:

Every twenty-eight years when the cycle begins again and the Nisan [Spring] equinox falls in Saturn on the evening of Tuesday, going into Wednesday

This year it will happen on the 8th of April 2009 (Erev Pesach 5759)

January 19, 2009

Piyut online

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

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

Check out "Habibi Ya Habibi" with Itzik Kalah,

"Naguila Hallelouia" with Ruby Chen,

And a modern version with Stalos and Oren Chen,

Another Tunisian piout with Beni Barda,

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

January 17, 2009

New Debbie Friedman CD, "Shacharit"

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

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

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

December 27, 2008

Freestyling to klezmer

Ruth Ellen Gruber sends notice of this wild Hungarian Hannukah party, complete with video, showing a progression from rap to klezmer to Israeli folk song. Check it out!

Budapest -- Hanukkah Hungarian Klezmer Rap Party

Hanukkah klezmer podcast from Keith Wolzinger

I'm only a few days late in posting information about this, but Keith Wolzinger's podcast from last Saturday, Klezmer Podcast 45 is focused on Hanukkah. This is a special episode of Klezmer Podcast focusing on the Lights: Celebrate Hanukkah Live In Concert program airing on PBS Television during the month of December.

December 25, 2008

"Days of Light" from Yerachmiel

Sharon Frant(d) Brooks spotted this one. She writes: "This is a GREAT modern Chanukah fun musical piece."

I can't seem to get the page to give me embeddable code, so follow the link—it isn't so far:

Sufganiot - Rabbi Joe Black and Maxwell St. Klezmer

If you look through YouTube you will find that our old friends at Maxwell Street Klezmer have recorded their own version of "Ocho Kandelikas." Fortunately, this song from their new CD with Rabbi Joe Black shows some different Hanukkah consciousness. Remember, not for nothing is this the holiday of oil

Teruah Music adds Podcast

Things are heating up wonderfully in the Jewish music world as Jack Zaientz, whose Teruah Music blog has been required reading for years, now adds a podcast:

As many of you know I've been writing Teruah, a more or less daily blog on Jewish music for about two years now. This weekend I launched the Teruah Podcast. The podcast will be much like my blog, focusing on me presenting and providing context for interesting Jewish music I discover. The big can dance to it in your kitchen. I expect some 'casts to have specific themes and others to be more free-form. The first 'cast, naturally enough, is The Hanukkah Show.

If you want to contribute music or have good ideas for future shows, please don't hesitate to contact me. If you've already sent me music in the past I'm sure I'll be contacting you for permission to play my favorite songs. But don't hesitate to remind me :)

Thanks and Chang Sameach Chanukkah.

-- Jack Zaientz
Musical Schadchen
Teruah Jewish Music

Erran Baron Cohen - Dreidl

ad for CDWhat could be more fitting on this fourth day of Chanukkah but to present this non-embeddable video of a cut from Erran Baron Cohen's new CD. Look closely, and while Chassidim carefully put up Jesus' name in Hebrew graffiti, there's also a bit of Y-Love:

Erran Baron Cohen - Dreidel

You can also visit the official website for "Songs in the Key of Hanukkah"

December 15, 2008

Pass the candle

Today's corny, but nice Chanukah video - turns out the singer is a friend of someone here at work:

December 14, 2008

Two for Chanukah

With the Chanukah season upon us, I want to make sure that KlezmerShack readers are aware of two relatively new Chanukah releases—one just out from our talented friends at Maxwell St. Klezmer (with their friend, Joe Black), and another from the amazing Lori Cahan-Simon.

CD coverJudith Pinnolis has an excellent review of this new CD, Eight Nights of Joy by old friends Lori Lippitz and the Maxwell St. Klezmer Band. This time, the band teams up with Rabbi Joe Black for a wonderful family recording. You can get more information (and your copy of the CD) at

cd coverKeith WolIzinger's review of Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble / Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration highlights a lovely album, and one that will also bring a bit of the mame loshn to your Chanukah gatherings. You can support the KlezmerShack by purchasing the CD from CDBaby using our link.

November 14, 2008

The Chanukah video bar just got much, much higher

I see this as one response to the shameful passage of proposition 8 in San Francisco last week, "Brokeback Dreidel", by Captain Smartypants, a Seattle Men's Chorus Ensemble:

June 30, 2008

The Lipa Ban - Charedi music controversy continues

Over at Blog in Dm, the author has been detailing curious stories of bizarre over-reaching by some charedi rabbis in Brooklyn. The most intriguing one was a ban on listening to an Orthodox entertainer, Lipa Schmeltzer, right before a major gig. It doesn't seem to have worked, and the new Lipa LP, "A simple guy" (a poshuter yid) is now out. More details from the source: This Review Is Banned! -- Lipa Schmeltzer's "A Poshiter Yid".

I took a quick gander at the promotional video for the new LP:

By me, this is good, current dance music set to frum words. Neither is something that I have a great interest in, although I'm getting ready to pick up my own copy of the CD to weigh in on the controversy. What keeps coming up for me, and I'm sure I've mentioned this before, is what the rebbes in Babylon must have said when those modern piyyutim folks started bringing in these pietistic poems set to the current dance music of the day some 1500 years ago (stay tuned--I attended a piyyut class in Jerusalem while I was in Israel this spring and it was damn fun--blog post to follow, I hope, before time erases it from my memory). So, today, at a time when I run around talking about how Judaism is changing and Rabbinic Judaism is sooo last century, people still living in the middle of that allegedly outdated community are listening to what's happening around them and setting pieties to today's modern dance music. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Irony on me if the big changes that stick have to do with music (especially when you consider that I quite like most traditional musics and have no interest in the current stuff), not מנהג or הלכה. heh!

And the anti-Lipa rabbonim? The dustbin of history will be theirs soon enough. Too damn bad they have to engage in such nasty lashon ha-ra on the way.

March 20, 2008

Purim? It's time for the "Big Megillah"

It was only about 20 years ago, that the Austin Klezmorim recorded the definitive hipster take on tonight's story, The Big Megillah. If it's been even a year since you first heard this gem, time to listen,again. Many thanks to the band's Bill Averbach for the link.

March 16, 2008

Purim coming! CDs and music available online

album coverWith Purim due this week, it is time to mentionBinyomin Ginzberg's Purim CD, a very yeshivish, bouncy combo of songs appropriate to any Purim Party. The music is among the large selection available on the Jewish music download site, OySongs.

Likewise, the Jewish Music Distribution in the UK announces several new releases for Purim and the fast-approaching Passover holiday.

February 23, 2008

OySongs: Dan Nichols & Eighteen sheet music catalog added

oySongs is proud to announce the addition to our catalog of DAN NICHOLS & EIGHTEEN'S ENTIRE SHEET MUSIC CATALOG. Rick's immensely popular music is now available in Scorch format - in the key of your choice, right out of your printer!

Eighteen is Modern Jewish Rock. For centuries, Jewish themes and values have been communicated through music. Today's Jewish youth hunger to hear those themes through music that speaks directly to them. Eighteen answers this need uniquely by setting the joy, wonder and excitement of Judaism to Modern Rock sound (think Third Eye Blind, Barenaked Ladies, etc.) with which today's Jewish youth identify … MORE

February 10, 2008

Elliott Simon reviews: Metropolitan Klezmer, Red Hot Chachkas, Lori Cahan-Simon

CD coverWith great frustration, I look at reviews and tips that I wanted to get online two months ago. Hold them for next year? Present them now? The latter wins. After all, these are great CDs, reviewed by Elliott Simon, which means that the reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and intelligent. So, travel back a skip in time and consider Simon's article, Happy Chanukah 2007, from All About Jazz, Dec 8, 2007.

March 20, 2007

The Music of Ancient Israel to "Jimmi Hendrix"-style klezmer!

As received:

I am writing,should you be interested in some of the musical material I have recently broadcast on, which amongst other things,features my attempts at bringing back to life the ancient sounds of the Jewish Temple Lyre,the "Kinnor",last played by my very own Levite ancestors in the Temple of Jerusalem,almost 2000 years only played,in my spare room,Salford,Lancashire,England!

Check out the the following link to all my somewhat unique musical videos which I have so far uploaded(which,amongst other things,also include an even more unique fusion of "Jimmi Hendrix" style electric violin and traditional Klezmer!!!)...

Mike Levy

March 15, 2007

New Hanna Tiferet CD

This is more music of a type that I do not listen to often. But Tiferet and her husband, Daniel Siegel, used to live nearby and I miss them very much—Daniel especially—so, in the best of all worlds, this becomes a major hit and they can afford to (and want to) move back to Boston from their home in Vancouver. Hah! But, in the meantime, check out the CD.

SEEDS of WONDER, Hanna Tiferet's seventh recording, has come to life during this first week of Shevat. It may be late for Hanukkah, but it's just in time for Tu B'Shevat!

cd coverSEEDS of WONDER contains 15 new song-prayers to nourish your heart and soul. Once again, Hanna has created beautiful music that will carry you through hard times, help you prepare for Shabbat, inspire your children, and renew your connection to ancient texts.

She is joined by a host of talented musicians including Shulamit Wise Fairman, Cantor Jeff Klepper, and a choir of angels. SEEDS of WONDER is available both digitally and in a full CD format from

February 25, 2007

Congregational Singing in Hasidic Congregations, by Cantor Sam Weiss

Note: I have posted this entry twice, now, with a broken link. I hope that this fixes things and people can now read the article.

If you've been wondering what Cantor Sam Weiss has been up to since his excellent article on Nine Cantorial Luminaries last year, we have a partial answer: "Congregational Singing in Hasidic Congregations," originally published in Volume XXX of The Journal of Synagogue Music, published by The Cantors Assembly. You can also catch Sam on a regular basis on the Jewish-Music mailing list.

November 22, 2006

CD Review: The LeeVees / Hanukkah Rocks

hey, come play at MY bar mitzvahThe LeeVees / Hanukkah Rocks. JDUB Records Available from
It's been several years since Rob Tannenbaum ("What I like about Jew") inflicted "Hanukkah with Monica" on an unwilling world with the claim, "there aren't any good Hanukka songs." In the intervening years, we've had Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song", and now, for the ultimate in total cultural fun, the LeeVees, featuring Guster's Adam Gardner and Dave Schneider of the Zambonis. By total cultural fun, of course, I mean that this is a CD that rocks, that celebrates Hanukkah, and has absolutely nothing to do with what you may have learned in Hebrew School. Hmm. Nope. This CD has everything to do with what you may have learned in Hebrew School, even if you didn't attend. It doesn't have anything to do with what your parents meant for you to learn in Hebrew school. This album considers the important cultural imperatives, like "Applesauce vs. sour cream" (no-brainer. Applesauce. Sheesh.) or "How do you spell Channukkahh?" with a brief bow to tradition in recounting the dreidl rules: "Nun Gimmel Heh Shin."

Some days I find myself getting uptight about this new Jewish culture stuff that celebrates symbols of "Jewish" without requiring any knowledge of or living Jewishly. Fortunately, such days do not occur around Hanukkah, when the infectious beats and good will of this album keep me full of good cheer despite that other holiday that is being commercialized all around me. I say, good will towards all, even to our goyim friends—especially if they don't mention dreidls made of clay or ocho kandelikos one more time until my nerves fray just a bit too far. Nope. I'm a convert. Hanukkah Rocks, and so will you. Don't forget to see the band in concert, too! Coming to a major center of Jewish life near you this Hanukkah season. [GRADE: ungraded, of course!]

March 28, 2005

Purim's over, but give a listen to "The Big Megillah

Okay, Purim is over, but I have finally figured out how to use my new QuickTime streaming service to make this wonderful track from the Austin Klezmorim available. It's called "The Big Megillah. Rather than say more, I suggest that you listen. Band leader Bill Averbach gave permission last month to post this, but I hadn't had time to get everything up and running. If this is worth doing, I'll consider doing some podcasting. Let me know. In the meantime, this is still my favorite retelling of the story of Purim. Thanks, Bill.

March 15, 2005

new Purim CD from Binyomin Ginzberg

album coverI have had a wonderful CD by Binyomin Ginzberg on the "to be reviewed soon" pile for months, and now he has released a new CD of Purim songs. I am therefore jumping ahead to let people know about the CD in time to get a copy for the holiday (coming up on Mar 25th). It is available from (and if you use this link in purchasing the CD, the KlezmerShack even gets a cut). The CD Baby site has audio clips with the first two minutes of each track. Ginzberg has also posted the liner notes there.

March 4, 2005

New CD for Passover, or for any day inspiration: Let my people go!

album coverEvery so often a CD rolls in and I am so taken with it that I listen to it over and over and immediately know how much I want to get the word out. This is one of them. At first I thought, "oh, sheesh, blast from the past ... when are these folks going to grow past the Sixties". Then I realized that this was a CD put out by people whose roots in social change went back much farther than the Sixties, and haven't stopped growing, not socially, not musically. This is just a wonderful, wonderful inspiration, and great listening music, too. >Let My People Go! A Jewish & African American Celebration of Freedom.

November 3, 2003

New reviews by George Robinson

George Robinson announces a slew of new music columns published almost all together in New York's Jewish Week:

Five-Star Klez: From New Orleans and Odessa, fusion and traditional approaches.

A Fall Sampler: From Solomon Rossi to Michael Strassfeld.

Heard Around The World: From Turkey to London to the Lower East Side.

October 27, 2003

New CDs of Spanish-Portugese Cantorial Music

Joel Bresler spotted this press release and posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

The Shearith Israel League of the historic Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue of New York has just issued three exciting CDs in the Western Sephardic Tradition commemorating the 350th anniversary of the founding of the Congregation and the arrival of the first Jews to North America.
Tel: 212-873-0300; Fax: 212-724-6165

Continue reading "New CDs of Spanish-Portugese Cantorial Music" »

August 11, 2003

New Afro-Semitic CD - music from High Holidays

I'm excited to announce that my new CD: The Days of Awe: Meditations for Selichot, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur will be officially released on Thursday, August 14. This groundbreaking recording is the very first jazz holiday album to focus exclusively on interpretations of music from the Jewish High Holy Day repertoire. Six of the tracks on the album are my arrangements of High Holy Day prayers from the repertoire of the legendary Cantor, Yossele Rosenblatt.

Continue reading "New Afro-Semitic CD - music from High Holidays" »

August 4, 2003

Five new music reviews

I only got to two of the brand new recordings this weekend, partly because I've had trouble putting away some of the CDs that were sent last year. It's time. It's certainly time to spread the word.

anothing Tzadik coverAnyone who has watched him perform, or more broadly, who has seen Claudia Heuermann's "Sabbath in Paradise," which covers the New York downtown Jewish music scene, is familiar with Coleman's work. His recordings with Sephardic Tinge--Coleman accompanied by bass and drums--present him at his most accessible and, I think, most lyrical. Last year's Our Beautiful Garden Is Open is an excellent example.

a lovely purple potatoI remember being amused by the name, "Orient Express Shnorer Klezmers" or something--a French klezmer band that seemed interesting, but I never had time to write a review. Now they have evolved into an incredibly articulate, brassy klezmer jazz ensemble. This tribute to Jewish food is a perfect introduction. Remember, when terrorists put a bomb in Paris back in the mid-eighties, it was a Jewish deli that was bombed. This is French Jewish food. Food matters. Delicatessen

lovely detail from Turkish SynagogueThis is simply a pleasure. One of the most beautiful Sephardic albums I have heard in a while. Lovingly documented, beautifully sung by Hadass Pal-Yarden. Yahudice

Surely we should never have to see a poorly used Zapf chancery again!ëYes, we have another name change. The band whose name was once preceded by "Shawn's", is now simply "Kugel." Be that as it may, here's another helping of everything from the Grateful Dead to Aleynu, in Finger Play

delightful painting of 'Jewish Folk Musicians' by Mané-Katz' w/appropriate party typographyThis week's winner of the "another band that I would have happily hired for my own wedding" is KlezmerFest. The band includes a couple of members of Hasidic New Wave, but this is where they get down and make traditional Party Music.

May 26, 2003

New reviews from all over

It is nice to be at a point where the KlezmerShack can feature articles by people who listen to and are interested in music about which I know nothing. My goal is to ensure that people who love Jewish music can spread the word about things that may be worth listening to. The more voices, and the more diverse ways of considering the subject there are, the better.

In that vein, Chicago writer Stewart Cherlin, who did a year end wrapup back in 1997 has recently contributed an article on Rabbi Joe Black

And, stepping into the breach to write about related non-Jewish music that will be of interest to KlezmerShack readers, Roger Reid contributes a review of the new album by cymbalist Alexander Fedoriouk, "Crossing Paths." Fedoriouk is familiar to many klezmer aficionados for his work on recent albums by Sy Kushner and others. He is also a member of the Cleveland-based world music band, Harmonia, in which Khevrisa violinist Steve Greenman (as well as former Budowitz co-member Walt Mahalovich) also finds a home.

I have been trying to dig myself out from under the accumulated mountain of incredible music, as well.

One of my favorite "traditional" klezmer albums these past few months has been a delightful album from the Montreal-based band, Shtreiml. What makes this unusual, and causes me to put the word "traditional" in quotes is the use of the harmonica as the primary solo instrument. Once you hear the music, however, I trust that you, too, will be a Harmonica Galitzianer

One of the latest releases from Tzadik is Jon Madof's first recording with his Jewish-derived jazz band, "Rashanim". Although the band is named for the noisemakers used on Purim to drown out the sound of Haman's name, the jazz is anything but. The mix of Jewish, as well as other music sources is well done and a joy to the ears.

April 7, 2003

Reviews of Sephardic Passover CDs, George Robinson

Here is the latest CD roundup by George Robinson:

It may help alleviate the surprising lack of comments to my request for "favorite Passover CDs".

March 27, 2003

Favorite Passover Recordings

the irrepressible chasia segalDo you have a favorite Passover recording? Is there something that your kids love to listen to every year?

Add a comment to this weblog, or e-mail me, and let me know. I'll add all the comments and recommendations to a document similar to what we put together for Chanuka a few years ago.

Continue reading "Favorite Passover Recordings" »

March 23, 2003

New KlezmerShack Reviews

The church at the end of the alley, decent punk typeIt's been a very fun week. There are new reviews up demonstrating, once again, the absurd bread of interesting music that is being sent to the KlezmerShack:

Naftule's Dream / Live in Florence is a dream--this live recording catches the energy and interplay of this post-klezmer edge band as nothing yet.

loud, cheesy benguiat with cliched drawing of chassidim drinking in violin caseDresder & Mayer / Sruli and Lisa's Klezmer Dance Party provides the answer to the question: "what two people are most responsible for people associating "party" and "klezmer".

Nikolayev Kapeliah / Vodkazak features some of my favorite klezmer and jazz musicians (Alicia Svigals, Jeff Warschauer, Sy Kushner, Marty Confurious, Nicki Parrot) tearing up chasidic standards. Hot.

Meshugga Beach Party. It's time to twist to those freilachs once again. Dick Dale meets "Hatikvah" and wins.

Article about Alpert, Mayer, Dresder in "The Singing Table"

Michael Alpert has teamed up with the irrepressible duo of Sruli Dresder and Lisa Mayer to present a program of nigunim (hasidic "hums", as it were). It is an amazing performance, by all accounts. Here is an account from the Forverts, spotted by Jewish-Music mailing list member, Sandra Layman:

March 22, 2003

Review of Laura Wetzler CD

Looks like kabbalah to meIt's about time, but we finally have a short review up of the marvellous recent CD by Laura Wetzler, Kabbalah Music

March 8, 2003

"Kabbalah Music" CD Concert Art Exhibit, premiers Mar 9

Looks like kabbalah to me

"Kabbalah Music" CD Release Concert & Art Exhibit
Sisters Explore Jewish Mysticism through Music and Painting

Laura Wetzler in "Kabbalah Music: Songs of the Jewish Mystics" Sunday, March 9, 3pm at The Merkin Concert Hall, 129 W.67th St., NYC. Tickets $25. Call Box Office:(212) 501-3330, Special Guests: Alicia Svigals, violin (of the Klezmatics,) Amir Chehade & Robin Burdulis, mideast percussion; Scott Wilson, kanun; Maurice Chedid, oud. Set Design and Art Exhibit by Angela Milner.

In conjunction, "Kabbalah Music: Encaustic Paintings by Angela Milner" The Merkin Concert Hall Gallery, 129 W.67th St. NYC. March 9-April 1. Post "Kabbalah Music" concert reception and art opening in gallery. Gallery hours by appointment thereafter: (212) 307-1385.

Continue reading ""Kabbalah Music" CD Concert Art Exhibit, premiers Mar 9" »

February 5, 2003

Wandering through Jewish tradition by BEN-CANAR: a new CD from OW

Best greetings from Poland!

I am writing to you because I would like to inform you that we just released the CD called "Nedudai" by SHANI BEN-CANA. This is wonderful record of young talented musician who lives in Safed, Israel.

Continue reading "Wandering through Jewish tradition by BEN-CANAR: a new CD from OW" »

December 20, 2002

New American-Jewish Music for Prayer CD

OPEN THE GATES! is a representative sampling (or as representative as one CD can be)--18 selections, by 18 different composers and performers--of contemporary American-Jewish religious folk music, reflecting the inclusive, intimate, and lyrical style of contemporary Jewish prayer music--and incorporating various American folk and popular styles (bluegrass/country/world music/a cappella/"light" jazz; guitars and fiddles, pianos and flutes) in the characteristic manner of Jewish musical fusion. It is unusual--and perhaps unique--for including under one virtual roof the music of almost every segment of the American Jewish community--from the more-or-less yeshiva world to Jewish Renewal, and many in between. The compiler is Robert Cohen.

April 21, 2002

Latest reviews by Ari Davidow cheer up a taxing season

The latest reviews include Byrd/Chevan / This is the Afro-Semitic Experience, 2002; Tim Sparks / At the Rebbe's Table, 2002;Yankele / L'Esprit du klezmer, 2001; Howard Leshaw / Bronx Volume II: Yiddish on the Edge, 2001; Klezmaniacs (MA) / Sveet like herring vit potatoes, 2001; Amsterdam Klezmer Band / Limonchiki, 2001; Alain Chekroun & Taouifik Bestandji / Chants des Synagogues du Maghreb, 2000; Mark Levy / Bin ikhmir a shnayderl (I'm a little Tailor), 1999; Roy Nathanson & Anthony Coleman / I could've been a drum, 1997; Rabson, Mimi / Music, 2002.

March 31, 2002

Release party for the Afro-Semitic release recording, Middletown, CT, Apr 1

8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 at the Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown, CT, (860) 347-4957. The new CD features Chevan and Byrd with the Afro-Semitic Experience playing an array of original pieces, sacred music, klezmer, and sacred music by jazz composers. The official release date for this recording is April 5, but we will have albums available at this event. Please join us if you are anywhere in the Connecticut area. Matzo will be served and a freylekhe down home time will be had by all!!

March 24, 2002

Passover music and more

The latest reviews include Lori Cahan-Simon's secular Yiddish Passover song, a SoCalled Hip Hop seder, Nefesh' debut album, 'unplucked,' a delightful album by Israeli band, Tea Packs, 'your life in a lafa,' and Jewlia Eisenberg's latest effort, an avant gardeish, mostly a capella piece based on the writings and diaries of Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis. A mediation by singer between two lovers. A 'Trilectic.'

March 9, 2002

Choral Concert in the Jewish and Christian traditions "Psalms"

The first CD produced by AMJ - the Friends of Jewish Music - is the live recording from the remarkable concert given on March 11th 2001 at the Geneva Conservatory, Switzerland.

Continue reading "Choral Concert in the Jewish and Christian traditions "Psalms"" »

February 24, 2002

Craig Taubman to release One Shabbat Morning CD

I am very pleased and excited to announce the upcoming release of "One Shabbat Morning". Over two years in the making, the CD features thirteen new melodies as well as special performances by guest Cantors Alberto Mizrahi, Patti Linsky and Ira Bigeleisen.

Continue reading "Craig Taubman to release One Shabbat Morning CD" »

February 12, 2002

Rahel Jaskow debum album--new music by an Orthodox Jewish woman

Rahel Jaskow's debut album is a small statement that Orthodox women should be allowed to sing in public. Amanda Borschel writes in the Jerusalem Post.

February 10, 2002

New book on Synagogue Music

"The Musical Tradition of the Eastern European Synagogue: History and Definition by Sholom Kalib." Publication date: March 2002. Publisher: Syracuse Univ Pr. Binding: Hardcover. Subjects: Music; Ethnomusicology; History & Criticism.

December 30, 2001

The Soul of Klezmer: Last reviews of 2001

Capsule reviews of music by San Francisco Klezmer Experience, Channe Nussbaum & Spielniks, Jack Kessler, Bang on a Can, Abby Rabinowitz, Klezmerica, Musa Berlin, Di Gojim, Jamie Saft, Jeremy Brown, and compilation 'The Soul of Klezmer'

December 7, 2001

Years's Best Recordings by George Robinson

George Robinson selects the years best, including albums by Bang on a Can, Klezamir, Klezperanto, David Lang, Frank London, Peter Salzman and the Revolution Ensemble, Shirona, Robert Starer, Josh Waletzky, Za'atar, Emil Zrihan, and recordings of Composers of the Holocaust, The Yemenite Jews, and The Music of the Mountain Jews.

November 30, 2001

Chanuka Favorites from the Jewish-Music Mailing List

In which participants on the Jewish-Music mailing list talk about their Chanuka favorites.