August 29, 2016

Catching up with five "must listen" new releases

I am once again looking for a next gig (if you know someone in the Boston area who needs a cloud computing consultant/Project Manager/Scrum Master, do contact meAshkenaz Festival in a few days:

cd coverThis is one of the most interesting and successful "re-mix" efforts I've heard. A group of musicians in Germany has pulled archival recordings and integrated into their covers. The material is wonderful and nicely extends our repertoire, and encourages more to consult the same sources: Waks / Yiddish Voices, 2015. Highly recommended.

cd coverI always look forward to concerts and recordings by klezmer flautist Adrianne Greenbaum. This new one is especially noteworthy as it brings a klezmer family repertoire back to life: Fleytmuzik / Poyln, 2016

cd coverRecordings like this remind us why we miss the late Franka Lampe (and how wonderful it is that her partner on this recording, Fabian Schnedler, is just hitting his stride—see him next weekend with Semer Ensemble in Ashkenaz!). In this case, the duo mine field recordings amongst Jewish criminals (an obvious place to look for those who know of the reputation of klezmorim back in the day). Check out Schikker Wi Lot / Ganovim-Lider, 2016 and enjoy.

cd coverLocal (to me, here in Boston) avant-garde-istas return to the recording world after an absence of several years to remind us all why we miss them and how great it is to hear new material: Naftule's Dream / Blood, 2016. Sure to bring a smile to your ears.

cd coverIf there is a better Jewish band actively creating new traditional klezmer, I don't know of them. In this new recording, they include Joel Rubin, an equally acclaimed klezmer revival pioneer and professor. Just marvellous. Polish rural folk traditions klezmerified. Veretski Pass w/Joel Rubin / Poyln, 2015. Buy a few copies—you'll be handing them out to friends and family.

December 13, 2014

Happy almost Khanike--more new Jewish music

Ack! It is almost Khanike and I still have stacks of CDs that you should know about in case you have made gift-giving part of your seasonal celebration of light. Okay, let's get short bits up about a few of them, at least.

hand drawn lettering reminiscent of old Yiddish sheet musicFrom the clarinet glissando that opens the first song, first echoing Gershwin, then blasting that thought out of the ears, Benjy Fox-Rosens 2011 EP Tick Tock signalled a major shift in the way we think about Yiddish songs and Mordechai Geburtig's legacy. It is totally new all over again. "Yiddish Art Song" is reborn, in a thoroughly imaginative, beautiful manner. Listen, for instance to "Grine Oygen" (Green Eyes), which quotes from several popular klezmer and yiddish cliches, turning them inside out. I can only conclude by mentioning the title of the final song on the EP: "S'iz Git"—It's Good! You can get a copy of the EP in digital or physical form via BandCamp.

lovely old world drawing--by Ben Katchor?But, I really got you here to talk about the more recent 2014 Fox-Rosen release, Two Worlds, a reflective, sad song cycle comprised of reset songs by Mordechai Gebirtig. From the opening, "When father beats me," you know that this is not a shmaltzy picture of life in the old country. What makes this essential, and I think why I can't stop listening, is how real it is. The picture is so vivid, the music so intense, that I find myself at the end and starting over. Backed by his Yiddish Art Trio bandmates Pat Ferrell on accordion and Michael Winograd on clarinet, with his brother Avi on guitar and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Benjy Fox-Rosen's voice and bass weave the arrangements into compelling, haunting stories. His music is new. But it is new swirled with traditional Yiddish folk, theatre, and klezmer fragments, recreated to make a vanished community real again, and to tug at our hearts, to make us care about that community and their lives, anew. You can get a copy for those amazing purveyors of wonderful new sounds, Golden Horn Records.

lovely old world drawing--by Ben Katchor?Looking for something smooth, jazzy, uplifting for the holiday? David Chevan's Afro-Semitic Experience has just the thing, Souls on Fire. After several recent releases that focused on Jewish cantorial tradition, this year the band turned back to its roots, presenting songs from Pharaoh Sanders, MyCoy Tyner, Duke Ellington, along with traditional Jewish klezmer, and spirituals such as "Go Down, Moses" and "Avadim Hayinu" (We were slaves), from the Passover seder. Selections also include that gospel cantor, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up above my head I hear music in the air." A perfect accompaniment to quiet evenings around the menorah or even a roaring fire. You can get your copy, digital or otherwise, from

kinda fun, and captures the CD's atmosphere perfectlyIt is the rare holiday season when you can celebrate with a new release by the punk Eastern European rhythms of "Golem." This is one of them, and Tanz is the most fun the band has had in years. A frenzied cross between the Brave Combo, Gogol Bordello, and your neighborhood klezmer band, Golem's songs are pleasantly twisted, the rhythms are propulsive, dance-perfect. There is a lounge music component that keeps us from taking anything too seriously. Whether telling a plaintive story of two sad sacks finding each other and falling in love ("Miskayt"), harking back to the old country and the many changing linguistic contexts of modern life in "My Horse" ("but with my faithful horse, I speak mameloshn") or telling the stories of recent immigrants to the USA from the former USSR (most notably, sadly, on "Poletim," story of a hijacking gone a bit awry), this is a wonderful burst of energy and fun. This, and other fine recordings by the band are available from their website:

old sepia on lovely graphics and excellent typeA surprising amount of wonderful new Jewish music doesn't come from European Jewish traditions. Likewise, some of the most striking new music is old, as in this recreated Sephardic wedding song cycle arranged by Aron Saltiel, Ensemble Saltiel / Boda. There seems to be no comparable cycle in Ashkenazic tradition. Saltiel has combined decades of field research, with singers and musicians familiar with the repertoire, and takes us from a celebration of the first glances, to arranging the engagement, completing the bridal trousseau to the groom presenting a gift on the wedding night. Gathered from former Ottoman lands in the Balkans and Turkey, the melodies, the singing, and the sense of tradition are fantastic. The singing features for individual solos and a powerful Sephardic chorus. The CD is beautifully packaged with notes (including a brief introduction by Dr. Judith Cohen) and images, as well as translations of all of the tunes. This is just wonderful, good-time music, all the more precious for being a rare recording based on a vanishing/vanished tradition. You can get your copy, digital or otherwise, from Golden Horn Records.

quiet black silhouette on bricks. Well-executed typeI saved my favorite among favorites for last. César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky have been creating a wonderful fusion of Jewish and South American music together for almost as long as there has been a KlezmerShack. On their most recent (first?) trip to Boston two years ago, they brought Alef Bet, their most fully realized recording, yet. The album features their patented interplay between woodwinds and percussion/piano. Listen to Moguilevsky turn a simple "Zhok," first on flute?, and then Lerner's piano response, and then they begin improvising. "Una Luz" opens with quite, sparse chords by Lerner, and continues quietly exploring until the rapid pace of "Popurri" picks up Moguilevsky's clarinet and then the two are off, conversing wildly, excitedly, again. This is a quieter, more sure recording than their earlier efforts. It is less "klezmer-jazz fusion" and more it's own modern music in which one discerns strains of many things, but mostly, two musicians who have been sharing their conversations for decades, and who continue to find new, deeper, always-satisfying things to say to each other. Listening to Marcelo's whistling, as Lerner's piano walks quietly beside on the closing "Part of me," best expresses how far they have come, and how much richer our ears have been for the journey. Better, the days when ordering their CDs meant finding one's way in an Argentinian website and fantastic shipping charges are over. You can get this, and other recordings, directly from iTunes or

February 5, 2008

JMI Conf, "The Impact of Nazism on Musical Development in the 20th Century," UK, 8-11 Apr 2008

Music, Oppression and Exile: The Impact of Nazism on Musical Development in the 20th Century
International Conference, Senate House, University of London, 8–11 April 2008

Hitler tore a gaping hole in European culture and the damage has not yet been repaired’. Nick Kimberley, The Observer, 2002.

With four days of papers from across the world this conference is set to be one of the most significant symposia ever held on the subject. It will also include sessions with families of the composers affected and presentations from archives where their material is housed. There will be films introduced by the makers We Want the Light on Music in Germany by Christopher Nupen and Music in Terezin by Simon Broughton.

The conference at the University of London will be followed on 12 and 13 April by two days of concerts, films and public lectures on Music in Exile, presented by the Artists of the Royal Conservatory of Music, Toronto at the Cadogan Hall.

To see details of Conference fees, speakers and to register on line or the JMI Website

November 4, 2007

Conference: Music, Oppression and Exile, London, Apr 9-13, 2008

JMI logoYou are invited to attend or speak (and pass this on to those that may be interested) at the conference and concerts in London in April 2008 on
Music, Oppression and Exile:
The Impact of Nazism on Musical Development in the 20th Century

It will take place on Wednesday 9–Friday 11 April 2008

Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU

It will followed by two days of concerts and public lectures presented by
The ARC Ensemble (Artists of the Royal Conservatory, Canada) and the English Chamber Orchestra Ensemble

Saturday 12, Sunday 13 April 2008
Cadogan Hall, Sloane Terrace, London, SW1X 9DQ

Papers are invited on any of these broad subjects below or related topics. Papers should be of approximately 25 minutes’ duration (with an additional 10 minutes for discussion). The deadline for the receipt of abstracts is 30 October 2007.

Continue reading "Conference: Music, Oppression and Exile, London, Apr 9-13, 2008" »

January 31, 2006

Tribute to Viktor Ullmann

recording of Ullmann's 2nd symphonyOkay, one more important article that has been waiting several months. Stewart Cherlin has been writing for the KlezmerShack since 1997. His most recent article is about the Czech composer, Viktor Ullmann, who composed some amazing music in Terezenstadt before being shipped off to Auschwitz by the Nazis. Those who heard the lecture on his music at the Milken Conference a couple of years ago, or who have been privileged to otherwise encounter his music know that this isn't just your average Schoenberg-student does 20th century shtick music—this is "stick it to the Nazis in full glorious and conscious defiance" music. Many thanks to Stewart for writing an article about the music, and this past summer's performances in Chicago. We've added some links to learn more about Ullmann, as well.

Read Viktor Ullmann Remembered: A review and article on Viktor Ullmann and his music, performed at the Ravinia Festival, written by Stewart I. Cherlin

May 4, 2003

Three new reviews

As I try to catch up, I am happily snowed under by even more incredible music. Here is a taste:

picture of KlezRoym
Italy's Klezroym have put together an incredibly powerful album, "Yankele nel Ghetto," based on Gila Flam's collection of songs from the Lodz Ghetto. Notes in Italian and English.

album coverRob Burger's recent Tzadik release, "Lost Photograph," combines lounge and exotica with South American and Jewish styles.

Wholesale Klezmer's new "Sing for Peace, Dance for Joy" shows why I think of the band as "Comfort Klezmer".

April 13, 2003

Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13

New Haven, Conn. Yale University will host a conference on April 12 and 13, celebrating the acquisition of a major collection of Jewish music by the University.

The Wallersteiner Collection of Jewish Music includes about 700 pieces of sheet music of popular, liturgical and theater songs and hymns from Germany, the United States, Israel and elsewhere from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection was acquired by the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale.

For further information check the conference web site at or contact Nanette Stahl, conference director, at or phone number (203)432-7207.

Continue reading "Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13" »

November 15, 2002

"vorbei" (beyond recall)

I want to bring to your attention a real "oytser", released in 2001/2 in germany: "vorbei" is a fine collection of 11 CDs and on DVD and a more than 6oo page illustrated book about musical performances and its great artists by the "Jüdischer Kulturbund" produced in the years 1933-1939 with "permission" of the regime. Old shellac goodies restored: yiddish songs, zionistic an khaluz songs, Khasanuth, cabaret etc, etc. Dont forget to have a handkerchiv ready. This matonele comes in a neat box. A must.

More info under e-mail:

albert leonhard

October 26, 2002

New release-Jewish music by holocaust survivor Anita Lasker Wallfisch

It is a very fortunate privilege to inform you of a record of great musical and historical significance. This is the story of Anita Lasker-Wallfisch, a very young musician whose life was saved by her cello. It is also a testament to life in Auschwitz and the founding of a musical dynasty. Anita Lasker-Wallfisch narrates her own story which is illustrated by music chosen and played by herself, her son Raphael Wallfisch and grandsons Benjamin and Simon. The highlight of the recording is the rarely heard and very beautiful "Requiem" Op. 66 for three cellos and piano by the 19th century Jewish Composer, David Popper. It is played here by three generations of Wallfisch cellists.

Continue reading "New release-Jewish music by holocaust survivor Anita Lasker Wallfisch" »

February 24, 2002

Beyond Recall: Once more revisited..., review by Michael Spudic

of Jewish music in Germany prior to the Holocaust, reviewer: Michael Spudic, originally posted to the jewish-music mailing list.

February 18, 2002

In Memoriam of Liberation--Theodorakis' Mauthausen Trilogy and more, recent reviews by Ari Davidow

reviews of great new releases of music by Mikis Theodorakis, Zakarya, Naftule's Dream, Chava Alberstein, and Monsieur Camembert.

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.