June 5, 2016

Review: David Krakauer's Ancestral Groove / Checkpoint (2016)

krakauer passport photo-ish.'To the extent that I have been tweeting the last couple of months, it has been to reflect how blown away I am by the new (to the US--released in Europe 2014) David Krakauer CD. This is the sort of CD that makes me celebrate the klezmer revival: entirely new music built on not just Eastern European roots, but also infused with jazz, funk, hip hop, and even modern classical traditions. This is what originality sounds like, but only when originality is accessible, approachable, and danceable. Let me invite you to check out David Krakauer's Ancestral Groove / Checkpoint. Available wherever good music is purchased or downloaded, or via David Krakauer's website.

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

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

September 21, 2014

David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana, "Walk to the Sea"

another faux deep tzadik coverOne of the highlights of the Saturday evening concerts at this year's Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto was the appearance of David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana. Showcasing their 2013 release on Tzadik, "Walk to the sea," the music was exhilarating. The fusion of Cuban, klezmer, and jazz, and much more was seamless. Buchbinder and his bands are always excellent, but watching pianist Hilario Durán was magic. Listening to vocalist Maryem Hassan Tollar live was a revelation. I have a short review of the CD now on the KlezmerShack. Enjoy. You can get your own copy via the band's website.

May 6, 2014

Composition Prize: Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band

CALL FOR SCORES • KCO COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Open to composers and arrangers ages 30 and under First Prize receives $1,000, performance of work, and live recording Multiple 2nd and 3rd prize awards available Deadline: December 19, 2014 (for best consideration, December 5, 2014) For guidelines, application, sheet music:

September 12, 2013

Zion80 CD release celebrated w/video

Jon Madof recollects a summer celebrating the release of the Zion80 recording (Carlebach meets African beats) with these videos:

From Krakov Jewish Culture Festival:

Jazzfestival Saalfelden, Austria:

You can get your copy of the CD from Tzadik Records

May 1, 2012

Reincarnation of a Niggun

From Talat's Alon Nechushtan, "Reincarnation of a Niggun," as performed by the Ayn Sof Orchestra, live from the six street synagogue in downtown New York, December 24th 2011.

Alon Nechushtan - "Reincarnation of a Niggun" for Big band from alon nechushtan on Vimeo.

April 21, 2012

April "Kosher Jam" UK show now available online

From host Michael Gerber:

The latest edition of my Kosher Jam show for UK Jazz Radio/Europe Jazz Radio – broadcast on 17th April and now on listen again – features a global roster of artists.

They include: French-Moroccan vocalist Laïka Fatien with her outstanding take on Stevie Wonder’s ‘Visions’; harmonica player Adam Glasser and music from his stirring South African township jazz CD; Brazilian vocalist Nicole Borger; Randy Newman performing one of his most poignant songs as re-recorded on a solo album; guitarist Steve Khan with a track from his Latin jazz album; Israeli jazz from flautist Ilan Salem and pianist Yitzhak Yedid; Yiddish world music singer-songwriter Lenka Lichtenberg; Toronto-based pianist Ron Davis with a Polish folk tune from his My Mother’s Father’s Song album inspired by his family history; and London-based band Just East, who are starring this month at the JazzAhead trade fair in Bremen, Germany.

Also featured: tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts improvising a Johnny Mandel/Dave Frishberg tune; alto saxophonist Libby Richman; vocalist Audrey Silver; tenor saxophonist Noah Preminger; bassist Josh Ginsberg; and with this year’s New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival about to get underway, a track from an 1955 album by its founder, pianist/vocalist George Wein.

There’s contemporary Jewish jazz from: clarinettist Ben Goldberg; the Masada Quintet with Joe Lovano interpreting John Zorn; The Sway Machinery; and Denmark-based saxophonist Marc Bernstein. And the late klez-jazz clarinettist Sam Musiker with joyous wedding music, from Songs For The Jewish American Jet Set CD, a compilation of artists recorded by the Tivka label between 1950-1973.

That’s 21 tracks in all, 2 hours of great music, accessible with 1 press of the button at:

September 28, 2011

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

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

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

And if that was not enough NPR has chosen “Adoshem, Adoshem,” one of the tracks on the album to be today’s SONG OF THE DAY!! Here’s a link to that site:

September 9, 2011

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

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

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

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

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

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

January 1, 2011

Catching up - wonderful tablet article about two afro-klez jazz bands

This past year has been one of the busiest of my life. There are hundreds of emails to the KlezmerShack that are sitting in a folder, dated from 2009 and even earlier. One of the articles I missed, from the often-excellent Tablet covers two fascinating bands, one long-known to me (the Afro-Semitic Experience), and one, entirely new to me—Atlanta's 4th Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra. Read on:

Hyphenated Sounds: Two bands cultivate the ‘Afro-Judaic’ aesthetic, by Alexander Gelfand, Jan 28, 2010

November 28, 2010

9th Festival of Jazz and Klezmer in Paris

festival posterLancement du IXème Festival Jazz'N'Klezmer à partir du 21 novembre 2010.

This started last week and I missed it. There is an amazing line-up throughout December, though, including David Krakauer on Dec 13. Check it out!

October 16, 2010

New reviews by Michael Regenstreif

Jewish-Music mailing list regular Mike Regenstreif has begun writing reviews of new Jewish music for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. He has graciously begun sending the columns to the KlezmerShack for publication online here.

In his first reviews, published last month right after the most musically diverse Ashkenaz Festival yet, he covers a couple of artists about whom I know nothing, and a couple that have been very high on the "get a review onto the KlezmerShack soon" list. Not a bad way to start:

cd cover You may have heard Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser on NPR a few weeks ago. Here, Mike reviews her excellent new album, Provenance.

cd cover Bassist Jim Guttman has been the rock holding Boston's own Klezmer Conservatory Band together since the band's formation these many decades ago. It's taken him a long time to release a CD under his own name, and we've put up with it because his "day band," is, after all, pretty spectacular. This CD, he says, is the one he's longed to create for years, and Mike discusses what makes Bessarabian Breakdown.

cd cover Mike notes the Ashkenaz Festival debut by the Red Hot Chachkas with admiration—and well he should. I was sitting with Philadelphia drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts while they were doing their set, and Elaine was pretty admiring, herself. I've reviewed previous CDs with great pleasure. Their newest, Beats without Borders deserves everything nice that he says about it.

cd cover I've never heard of jazzman Benny Sharoni until I read Mike's review of Eternal Elixir. I would be very surprised if jazz fans don't really enjoy what they hear when they check out the bebop and ballads on the new CD.

Hankus Netsky tonight, "Klezmer and Beyond"

Chase-Netsky: photo by Susan WilsonHankus Netsky has been stretching the repertoire available in the Klezmer world for quite some time. He has also been doing more work with fellow jazz musician Linda Chase and friends. Tonight we'll get a chance to enjoy the best of both of those worlds at Newton's Temple Reyim. Show is at 8pm and the details, of course, can be found on the KlezmerShack Calendar.

July 15, 2010

"Branches" bridges old and new at Paper Bridge fest

Those of us (and the house was pretty full, so it wasn't a small crowd filling out the National Yiddish Book Center's new auditorium--I'd give you the donors' names, but the new NYBC website seems particularly opaque on such details) who attended the Amherst debut of Hankus Netsky's new band, "Branches" on Monday night had a subversively pleasant evening.

"Branches," includes Hankus on piano (Klezmer Conservatory Band founder and, as Dr. Netsky, head of the NYBC's "Discovery" Project), KCB regulars Andy Blickenderfer on bass, cello, and banjo; and Yaeko Mirando Elmaleh on violin; along with Hankus' jazz ensemble, "Another Realm" co-conspirator Linda Jaye Chase on flute and bass clarinet; and Hebrew College cantorial student Jessica Kate Meyer on vocals, harmonium, and percussion. You couldn't ask for a much more professional, tighter sounder group of folks for a pleasant evening in Amherst. Augmenting everything was the core of NYBC interns (and audience members) who took advantage of the floor space to indulge in "Yiddish" (Eastern European Jewish) folk dancing. The group started off with some traditional klezmer, but it quickly became clear that this was traditional music, but not the old same repertoire. Instead, Hankus mixed in pieces that he had gathered as part of the Center's "Discovery" project, as well as less-well-known pieces by that generation of Second Avenue songsters who had drawn on traditional music and made it American. We got to hear wonderful music that sounded familiar, but was still new to most of us.

Once the audience was warmed up, Hankus moved farther afield, including pieces from "Another Realm," including two wonderful pieces by flautist Linda Chase, one inspired by a poem by Itzik Manger, read simultaneously in Yiddish and English by Netsky and Chase; and another inspired by an earlier poem by the Sufi mystic Rumi. Again from "Another Realm" (I think—I forgot to check) was a new middle eastern piece by Hankus. Closing out, the ensemble returned to the familiar-sounding Yiddish and klezmer. As they played, my audience companions would turn to each other and to me, smiling that "this is hot shit" smile.

What made the concert special wasn't just wonderful music wonderfully played—it was the way that Hankus continues to broaden the repertoire of traditional music, expanding ears, and in a way, legitimizing further the boundary-pushing music of a younger generation of musicians such as The Lithuanian Empire or Daniel Kahn & Painted Bird. It's not a static canon, nor does the music come from a tradition that is disappearing—at least, not disappearing yet, and if the musicians or Monday night's audience have anything to say about it, clearly not disappearing anytime soon.

Tonight, of course, is the East Coast premiere of the new Veretski Pass piece, "Klezmer Shul," as suitable to close the festival as "Branches" was to open the festival—the one to open by showing that the culture that the Center has preserved is alive and well; and tonight to seal a future is even more open-ended and exciting than we imagined a few days ago. חזק חזק ונתחדש!

February 3, 2010

"Beyond the Pale" podcast

Beyond the PalePostcards, by Beyond the PalePerhaps pre-celebrating the California tour of Beyond the Pale this week, Keith Wolzinger announces Klezmer Podcast 60, featuring Eric Stein and Beyond The Pale. It is available on the website, iTunes, and Blubrry

January 30, 2010

New video from Afro-Semitic Experience

From David Chevan:

'cd cover During this past MLK weekend the Afro-Semitic Experience celebrated our 12th anniversary of music making with a Friday night service in New York City, a benefit concert for New Haven’s Columbus House Homeless Shelter, and a concert at the Museum of Jewish Heritage also in New York City. We had a wonderful time in New York City sharing our music and having a real Afro-Semitic Experience at the Museum of Jewish Heritage where we gave our New York City premiere of our new work (and new CD): The Road That Heals the Splintered Soul .

Our performance at the benefit concert for the Columbus House Homeless Shelter in New Haven was video recorded by our friend, pianist and visual artist, Richard Gans. Three of the tunes we performed have now been posted to YouTube and they have a lot of good energy. Richard was not limited by his use of a single camera and he did a great job as he captured the performance. You can really feel the wonderful vibe in the room last Saturday night as we transformed the place with our healing feeling. There are two little girls and a little boy who sat in the front row for most of the concert and they are sure feeling the music!!! You can see their heads bobbing in most of the camera shots. What fun.

The Road that Heals the Splintered Soul:


Adon Olam:

September 13, 2009

New video: Klezmokum on tour

From Klezmokum's Burton Greene:

Klezmokum just posted 6 video clips from our tour of synagogues and culture centers in November, 2007 on youtube…. Check it out!

Also there's a documentary about my life and involvement with Jewish music at (It's in 4 segments.. you have to wait about a minute for the first segment to begin.)

September 7, 2009

Hot Damn! Ribs & Brisket Revue coming to Boston Oct 24-25

Ribs & Brisket RevueKlezmerShack favorites: Ribs & Brisket Revue
New England premiere! (If you don't count a wonderful show at the 2008 Paper Bridge fest in Amherst)

Saturday, October 24, 2009 8pm
Sunday, October 25, 2009 2pm

Ribs & Brisket Revue has been serving up heaping helpings of '40s & '50s-style Jewish jazz, Yiddish swing, and various kosher-style blues to fans everywhere. Ribs & Brisket Revue both entertains and impresses: chicken soup for the weary, postmodern soul. The most fun you’ll have at a concert this year!

Tickets: $25 General; $23 JCC members and seniors

Related events

Pre-show talk: Sunday, October 25, 2009 12:30pm
”Roots: Klezmer Meets Jazz—Exploring Jewish and African-American musical traditions” Hankus Netsky
Faculty, New England Conservatory; Founder and director, Klezmer Conservatory Band
Free with ticket to either show or $8 General / $5 JCC members

Ribs and brisket bake-off: Enter your favorite brisket recipe!
A panel of culinary judges, including Firefly’s chef, Steve Uliss and PBS Cookbook authors Sheila and Marilyn Brass, will select the best recipes. Winners will be announced at the Saturday evening show and a taste of the winning recipe will be served.

Winner receives

  • Gift Certificate to Firefly Restaurant
  • Free tickets to selected JCC events
  • JCC gym bag
  • Bragging rights!

new release of Sophie Tucker recordings

From Alex Lubet and Marvin Margoshes on the Jewish-Music list last week:

Big article on Tucker in yesterday's NY Times. This is the centennial of her recording debut and there's a cd re-release of her earliest sessions that was highly praised. The article is great, too.

A Century Later, She’s Still Red Hot, by Jody Rosen, Aug 28, 2009

You can find out more about Sophie Tucker on the Jewish Women's Archive, or see her live as part of the JWA film, Making Trouble, now available for home purchase. (Disclaimer: I am an employee of JWA and pretty damn proud of it because of materials like these. ari)

April 5, 2009

Interview with Greg Wall on the new Rav Kook project

Greg WallIsrael's first chief rabbi's redemption poetry is turned into jazz performances by two rabbis on a new CD and in clubs. Rabbi Greg Wall of Hasidic New Wave fame and Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein, son of Holocaust survivors release Ha'Orot—The Lights of Rav Kook on John Zorn's Tzadik Records and perform in clubs in Israel and New York. The full text interview with audio is available from Benjamin Bresky's radio show.

February 6, 2009

Debut: Ha-Orot: The lights of Rav Cook, NYC, Feb 7, 2009

Anyone who has heard Greg Wall's and Aaron Alexander's work with "Later Prophets" knows that this is the critical NYC event of the weekend. Don't blame me if you miss it:

This Satuday nite—You are invited to the debut of HAOROT:The Lights Of Rav Kook Concert Feb 7th in NYC

"Give me, give me rays of light, Enough for me, enough, these pits of darkness."
(Rav Kook)

Shalom friends:
In these challenging days, the profound insights and inspirational poetry of Rav Kook offer us illumination in the darkness.

Rabbi Itzchak Marmorstein and Rabbi Greg Wall's Later Prophets have collaborated in creating a powerful jazz presentation of Rav Kook's poetry in Hebrew and English. Their debut concert is Saturday, Feb. 7 at Congregation Bnai Jeshurun at 7:00 p.m. (257 W. 88 St.)

The lineup will include:
Rabbi Itzchak- spoken word
Rabbi Greg Wall-saxophone, flute, shofar
Pablo Vergara-keyboards
Dave Richards-bass
Aaron Alexander-drums.

This evening is sponsored by Romemu and Bnai BJ members. It will begin with a Tu b'Shvat celebration.

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 19, 2009

Don Byron at 50

This is a couple months old, now, but still fascinating. Byron, of course, was the original clarinet player in the Klezmer Conservatory Band and is also well-known for a a href="/bands/byron/katz/byron.katz.html">CD of Mickey Katz tunes he recorded many years ago.

Don Byron, from NPRMusician, composer and bandleader Don Byron has a new album out, Do the Boomerang. It's a collection of songs associated with the great Motown saxophonist and singer Autry "Junior Walker" DeWalt. Tracks include Shotgun and Roadrunner. While Byron is usually associated with the clarinet, he plays tenor sax on this new CD.

January 18, 2009

Some recent reviews of interest by Elliott Simon

While I am catching up, it is long past time to note several new posts of interest by Elliott Simon, from All About Jazz:

Nicely done!Let's start with a review of David Buchbinder's brilliant collaboration with Cuban musician Hilario Durán, Odessa/Havana.

… Partnering with Cuban pianist Hilario Duran, Buchbinder has created more of a symphonic statement that extols the best of both genres [Cuban/Jewish]. While some pieces clearly ring more Latin than Jewish and vice versa, others blend aspects of both musics into a holistic experience that highlights the commonalities while celebrating the differences….

CD coverIf, like me, you are as captivated by Balkan brass rhythms as by klezmer, you will be very interested in Simon's review of this new entry from Seattle: Orkestar Zirkonium.

… This is great "tukhes" shaking music with a depth of composition and style that keeps it from becoming cartoonish—Orkestar Zirkonium is the real deal.

cd coverFinally, and sticking closer to home, Simon catches the latest of a series of Israeli jazz artists who have come to call New York their home, Introducing Omer Klein

… an Israeli-American jazz connection … has produced a culture of premier artists who have gone on to influence the broader jazz community. Pianist Omer Klein is part of a second wave of these musicians who mix virtuosity, world music sensibility and melodic flair to affect a global sound….

New Wolzinger reviews, from Polish Klezmer to Canadian Yiddish Art Song

I am so very behind in posting reviews by Keith Wolzinger, who continues to release new podcasts and reviews, regardless. Let me start to catch up with some very special ones:

I'm not happy with that Hebrew font used that way, but otherwise a nice coverIt's hard for me to imagine a more pretentious name for a Yiddish art song CD than "A Song is Born," especially when the haunting sound of didgideroo is heard in the opening bars. But Mitch backs it up. The former director of Toronto's acclaimed Ashkenaz Festival got some of his (and mine!) favorite musicians from around the world, including trumpeter Paul Brody from Germany, and the incomparable Moguilevsky and Lerner from Buenos Aires. The result is the most exciting, inventive, beautiful, and just plain interesting Yiddish album in years. Songs range from traditional, to Yiddish folk & theatre hits, to the always-interesting Lazar Weiner, and new tunes by Marcelo Moguilevsky. But, read what Keith has to say, in his review of Mitch Smolkin / A song is born / אַ ניגן איז געבוירן

nice woodcut drawing and well-rendered letteringFor those lucky folks who live in Toronto, tonight is the CD release of the first solo release by talented Jazz musician Lorie Wolf: The Lithuanian Empire, as well as the award-winner Sisters of Sheynville.

cd coverDrummer Matt Temkin goes in a different direction, entirely. To those who know him, this is no surprise, nor is the delicious serving of older-style klezmer-jazz á la Epstein Brothers, with welcome side trips to Second Ave. and to the music of the late German Goldenshteyn. Anchoring it all in "today" is the way he transposes the concept of "jam band" to klezmer, and how obvious and delightful it all sounds together. Check out Keith's review of Matt Temkin's Yiddish Jam Band / Poykler's Shloft Lied.

cd coverFinally, Keith introduces a band that is entirely new to me, the high-energy Polish ensemble, Klezmafour. Sounds like I need to pick up some new music.

More coming soon!

Klezmer Podcast on Roberto Rodriguez

Roberto RodriguezGiven recent posts about Roberto's work in Cuba, I wanted to make sure that people know about Keith Wolzinger's recent Klezmer Podcast with the drummer. I should note that more recent podcasts include Toronto singer Mitch Smolkin and a Chanukah special.

Klezmer Podcast 43: My guests on this episode are Roberto Rodriguez and Gilad Harel from the band Sexteto Roberto Rodriguez. The band plays a combination of Jewish/Klezmer and Afro-Cuban music. Rodriguez talks about growing up in Miami Beach and his exposure to Jewish culture.

January 1, 2009

"Celebrate the Dream", NYC, with Abraham Inc

Alan Watsky posted notice of this event to the Jewish-Music mailing list. The event is free, but Alan says that an RSVP is required. I cannot find a way to RSVP on the website, so check in with Symphony Space to be sure. The event is sure to have extra resonance this year, and Abraham Inc is an exciting ensemble.

Mon, Jan 19 at 6:30 pm
Peter Jay Sharp Theatre
Symphony Space,
Free and open to the public .

Honor the life and work of Dr Martin Luther King, on the eve of this historic presidential inauguration, with a celebratory night of music. Abraham, Inc. inspires audiences with their unique blend of the sounds and cultures of renowned trombonist Fred Wesley, who has worked extensively with James Brown, klezmer clarinet virtuoso David Krakauer, and beat architect Socalled.