May 8, 2017

Yiddish song on Mongolia's American Idol

From Leonard Koenick on the Jewish-Music list:

We Can't Make This Up: Yiddish Song Performed On Mongolia's American Idol May 1, 2017, by Jordan Kutzik

March 25, 2017

Yiddish song of the week: Beymer hakt men fun veldl aroys

Trees are chopped down in the woods. Stars fall and are extinguished. And hard is the path through the sand; But how good we feel when we're together.

Performance by Zelig Schnadover, commentary by Itzik Gottesman. Now at CTMD's Yiddish Song of the Week!

The Yiddish Song of the Week is a project of the Center for Traditional Music and Dance's An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture.

March 12, 2017

Yiddish Song of the Week: "A Boat for Me, a Canoe for You"

"For me a ship, for you a canoe..." performance of a short Yiddish song by Zelig Schnadover. Commentary by Itzik Gottesman. Now on CTMD's Yiddish Song of the Week.

August 25, 2016

Yiddish song of the week: "Surele iz in vald avek"

Jeremiah Lockwood sings the Yiddish folksong "Surele iz in vald avek"

Little Sarah is off in the woods picking flowers for a bouquet.
In the forest a little bird comes to her and says: Tweet.
-Tell me little bird, how long will my life be?
-Forty, eighty, one hundred years.
-Thank you, little bird, very much.

August 23, 2015

Supergroup, "Brothers Nazaroff" to release Prince Nazaroff tribute 10/23/15

Posted to Facebook by Francesco Spagnolo

Klezmer Supergroup The Brothers Nazaroff Revive "Yiddish Pendant to the Anthology of American Folk Music" (out 10/23/15)

On October 23, Smithsonian Folkways will release The Brothers Nazaroff: The Happy Prince, a boisterous, high-energy tribute to cult Yiddish troubadour Nathan "Prince" Nazaroff, who recorded the mysterious Folkways 10-inch record Jewish Freilach Songs in 1954. International klezmer supergroup The Brothers Nazaroff, composed of Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko, Michael Alpert, Jake Shulman-Ment, Bob Cohen, and Hampus Melin, breathe new life into the discordant, obscure, jubilant legacy of their Happy Prince. [More, including audio sample]

July 25, 2015

Theo Bikel, "Di zun vet aruntergeyn"

Theodore Bikel (1924 - 2015) sings "Di zun vet aruntergeyn" at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research 13th Annual Heritage Luncheon in his honor on June 18, 2015. Accompanied by Daniel Kahn and Lorin Sklamberg. Video shared by YIVO. I believe that this was his last public performance.

April 24, 2015

Yiddish Song of the week: One song, three pogroms

A song used in variant forms to memorialize tragedies befalling early 20th century Jewish communities in Kishinev, Bialystock and Volodarka. Commentary by Itzik Gottesman, now on Center for Traditional Music and Dance's Yiddish Song of the Week...

A project of CTMD's An-sky Institute for Jewish Culture

January 23, 2015

Marilyn Lerner & Friends (David Wall, Aviva Chernick & Mitch Smolken) - Volt ikh Gehat Koyekh

One of my favorites among the many tunes popularized by Adrienne Cooper, here played by Marilyn Lerner, with three of Toronto's most exciting vocalists. A good listen on a Shabbes eve on my way to a shul dinner where we'll hear a speaker from Israeli on the upcoming elections. May all have this song in their hearts as they vote:

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

December 1, 2014

Five excellent mostly new recordings for holiday gift-giving

It is already after Thanksgiving and I haven't had time to make any additional dents in the pile of CDs that you =should= be considering for holiday gifts. Okay, I'll try to give some brief reviews of some of the essential new (mostly new) recordings:

cd coverI used to think of Isle of Klezbos as the lesser cousin of Metroplitan Klezmer, both anchored by drummer Eve Sicular, and both featuring many of the same musicians. But Live from Brooklyn shows that Isle of Klezbos is one of the premiere purveyors of that American form of klezmer: jazzy, brash, full of yiddish theatre songs and great dance music. This one is for the dancer in the house. You can get your copy right on Bonus: Order this between now and 12/3/14 midnight, and shipping is free.

cd coverFolklorist, singer, dancer Michael Alpert has been sharing a stage with Julian Kytasty for many years. One sings in Yiddish. The other in Ukrainian. Together they weave together two folk cultures in a beautiful acoustic set, Night songs from a neighboring village. Appropriately timed, given Ukraine's prominence in recent news, this one will leave you feeling all sweet inside—except for "Homebrew," which will encourage you to eschew the store-bought stuff and drink local. I remember the tune as Irish, but what do I know. What a great way to celebrate 20 amazing years of music from Oriente records.

cd coverI first noticed Zisl Slepovitch because of his brilliant "Minsker Kapelye" CD. But, that was back in the old country. Arriving here in the US, he formed a new ensemble, Litvakus, and presented the unique repertoire of Belarusian Jews as a thing of beauty. This is a pre-American jazz form of klezmer, along with nign and folksong. Raysn is a recording of unadorned beauty. I am in awe. Available online from Bandcamp.

cd coverAlthough you are less likely to hear cantorial music, much less good cantorial music in the synagogue today than even when I was young, one compensation is the myriad of ways in which cantorial music is being recontextualized. Some stylings are more tuneful and gentle, as in Frank London's cantorial music albums. Other artists, like Jeremiah Lockwood of The Sway Machinery have been louder and more discordant. Here, Tzadik recording artist, guitarist Yoshie Fruchter (also the grandson of a cantor) has reimagined and recontextualized some cantorial gems. Some are rendered as instrumentals, with his searing guitar replacing the cantorial sobbing of a hundred years ago. I find myself, in particular, drawn to his reimagination of the "Rosh Hashanah"" plea.In a few cases, he mixed original recordings in with his new musical settings, or sings the music, himself. The result is a loud, discordant, and ultimately immensely spiritual CD. Check out Schizophonia / Cantorial recordings reimagined and get copies for the musical explorers on your gift list. Available from Bandcamp.

cd coverThis last mention for tonight is from a recording that has been sitting on the review shelf for too long. I was reminded of it with a pang last night when I listened to Andy Statman play at a local club. Statman is famous for mixing klezmer and hassidic music and bluegrass so seamlessly that it isn't so much a melding of genres, but a fluency so natural, that all genres sound like facets of the same universal harmonies. That's what the Freilachmakers do with their blend of various Jewish music, starting with klezmer, and with Irish music. Intriguingly, this third recording, Klezmer at the confluence by the ensemble is all Jewish in source: klezmer, yiddish, ladino. But, I am happy to say that the Irish is also still present. Another very special recording from a very special band. This one goes to the persons on your list who don't yet know that klezmer is another way of speaking Irish. Get your copy(ies) from

October 12, 2014

Zion80, Ichka, Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Lenka Lichtenberg/Yair Dalal - save the best for last from Ashkenaz 2014

So, we're just about at the end of my writing about the Ashkenaz 2014 fest and what I saw and heard there. Just a few more bands/releases to cover. Bear with me. I've kind of saved the best for last, so you wouldn't all go away.

The first full evening of the festival was Saturday night. As festival director Eric Stein noted, every act playing Saturday night was Canadian. That already makes Ashkenaz special. Beyond the rare incursion by some of the Montreal bands, you wouldn't think from sitting here in Boston that there was Jewish music, much less new Jewish music in Canada at all.

cd coverOne of the key ingredients of the festival is the ongoing dancing. This year, the band that did most of the playing for that dancing was a Montreal band, Ichka, that has also done some minor touring—they were even south of the border, here in Boston on a double bill with local favorites Ezekiel's Wheels last winter. They are a powerful, brassy ensemble that remind me in some ways of the venerable Dutch band, Di Gojim. Ichka is young and they play with excellence and fervor. Their first release, Podorozh, captures the contemporary North American klezmer sound: Not only familiar songs such as "Nifty's Freylakhs" or "Fun Tashlikh," but updated to include Steven Greenman's excellent "Dreaming of Goldenshteyn," a delightful "Glazier's Hora" from Alicia Svigals, and best of all, reaching across the pond to capture "the Tongue," by Merlin Shepherd (who, as already mentioned, was also at Ashkenaz with wife, singer/piano player, Polina Shepherd). Opening with a fantastic drumroll and a fantastic blaring of horns, this is both a blast from the past, and a statement about keeping the dancing speaking to us. If you were't at Ashkenaz, you can get your CD or MP3s from bandcamp.

cd coverJoining Ichka on its debut album was the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, one of Toronto's best street orchestras. You don't know from street orchestras? Somewhere, in an urban area near you there is a festival called "Honk!" featuring these popular, often-amateur ensembles from around the world. (Boston's was held this weekend, in fact!) Lemon Bucket is famed for calling out the band to play in an Assisted Living home, or to accompany a good protest. At Ashkenaz, they headlined on Saturday night, exciting the largest crowd I saw during the festival with incredible energy, precision, and a scintillating mix of klezmer, balkan, and whatever else they felt like playing. Their new recording, Lume Lume has the frenetic mix you would expect, with tunes from all over Eastern Europe, Jewish and otherwise. They close with one of my favorites, "7:40." Back towards the beginning of the klezmer revival, this was recorded by everyone. We all moved on. I am greatful to the Lemon Buckets for bringing it back, and for having so much fun playing. You can find out more and get your own copy (CD or MP3) from their bandcamp page.

cd coverAs part of my introduction to the artists playing at Ashkenaz, I mentioned Lenka Lichtenberg's recent CD, Songs for the breathing walls. She was at Ashkenaz to promote a new, just-released project, an album of lullabies which she has put together with Iraqi-Israeli artist Yair Dalal. Lullabies from Exile presents lullabies from both European and Mizrahi Jewish traditions. Featuring the gentle voices of both, as well as Dalal's wonderful oud, and backed by an excellent ensemble, this is the children's recording of the festival. Soothing and gentle, and drawing from so many Jewish traditions (and their overlap), it is a pleasure. Check out Lichtenberg's website for your own copy and for more info.

cd coverFinally, we come to my personal favorite, Sunday night's headline band, Zion 80, jazz guitarist/Tzadik recording artist Jon Madof's recent project merging the AfroPop sounds of Fela Kuti with the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach. While that original project was a wall of danceable, infectious nign, this concert highlighted material from the new release, Adramelech: The book of angels, vol. 22 featuring Madof's arrangements of John Zorn tunes from "The Book of Angels." The band isn't much smaller than the Lemon Bucket Orchestra, and took Jewish music to another continent entirely. If you don't have both of the Zion 80 releases, time to catch up. But, I also have to express my pleasure and delight especially at the new release. Available, of course, from Tzadik Records. Enjoy. Same time, same place, in two years for the next Ashkenaz Festival?

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 27, 2014

More from Ashkenaz 2014: Forshpil, Geoff Berner

Before memories of this year's Ashkenaz Festival totally dissipate, I wanted to continue my mentions of several notable bands and musicians encountered there.

cd coverFirst up is Forshpil, from Riga, Latvia. Although they performed a couple of traditional klezmer/yiddish sets at the obligatory "Bella Did ya eat?" brunch at the FreeTimes Cafe, the band is much more "rock-klezmer" fusion. In fact, the opening "Volekhl" on their eponymous 2012 CD immediately attracts the ears, sounding like an improbably successful marriage between Hawkwind and traditional klezmer. From there, it's on to a funk-infused "Priv Trink Oys." Despite the quite, gentle rendition of "Di sapozkelekh" or the closing "Dobranotsh," and although there are reggae and jazz influences, the dominant sound is that opening "heavy metal progrock" feel, along with a certain Dick Dale-inspired speed guitar picking, as on "Meyld in di yorn." In this, the band reminds me not a little of "Yiddish Princess." The diversity continues to good effect. Like so much good klezmer-and-more recordings these days, you can get your copy at, where you can also listen to samples of each of the songs.

cd coverGeoff Berner's 2011 "Victory Party" is a different kettle of fish. A long-time stalwart of the Canadian folkie scene, this is his sixth recording. Berner is often compared to Daniel Katz for the social commentary and (in Berner's case, relatively rare) Yiddish or klezmer inflections in his music. You can hear their similarities in songs such as "Laughing Jackie the Pimp" and in a very nicely contextualized "Daloy Polizei," also covered by Kahn (especially timely this year--and now that I think about it, all too often). At the same time, where Kahn both incites to action and expresses an ennui (this, too, will not ultimately change the world), Berner more often seems a bit more of a commentator, distant. His "Mayn rue platz" is less a call to action, than an evocation of sadness. But, we speak of relativity. "I am going to jail / to get a new pair of shoes" ("Jail") pulls few punches, despite its jaunty tune. "Oh my golem" is likewise fairly direct commentary. "Did you really think a perfect god / wants you to burn a goat / or nail the Messiah in place" from "Rabbi Berner finally reveals his true religion" may be gentle, but it's a call to action, nonetheless (smirk included).

In addition to performing at Ashkenaz, Berner was interviewed by DJ SoCalled (who also produced "Victory Party") at the Festival about his relatively recent short novel, Festival Man. Advertised as a hard-hitting satire about the Canadian Folk Festival scene, the book is actually a bit of a fond love poem to same—satire included, and a pleasure to read.

May 15, 2014

JewJamSouth, Aug 10-13, 2014

From our friends Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss:

festival logoJEWJAM SOUTH!

Join us for JewJamSouth, a four-day celebration of Jewish choral music, Yiddish song and klezmer music this August in Clayton, GA!

JewJamSouth will take place on August 10–13, 2014, at Ramah Darom's campus in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. The event is designed for passionate Jewish choral singers, klezmer instrumentalists, Hebrew and Yiddish singers and their families. Whether you are an experienced practitioner or a newcomer, this four-day festival will offer a feast of musical inspiration, ideas and fun.

JewJamSouth is open to people of all levels and backgrounds, and no previous experience is needed. Beginners are welcome.

Throughout the four days, you'll have a chance to participate in a hands-on ensemble program and study, perform and be mentored by world-renowned faculty:

Hazzan David Tilman, Program Director
"Hazzan David Tilman is Adjunct Associate Professor at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the choral director at Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He also serves as Hazzan Emeritus of Beth Sholom Congregation, where he created a nationally recognized five choir program.Hazzan Tilman is an award-winning, life-long conductor who has traveled around the world and received numerous awards, including the first Moshe Nathanson Award in conducting and the the Samual Rosenbaum Award for lifelong achievement from the Cantor's Assembly. His travels have included trips to Germany, Havana and Chile, but he is also well-loved right here at home, as he has been the music director of Camp Ramah in Wingdale and Nyack, as well as at the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, California.
Jeff Warschauer, Co-Director
Jeff Warschauer is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of the KlezKanada Institute for Yiddish/Jewish Culture and the Arts, is on the faculty of Columbia University in New York, and is a graduate student in Cantorial Music and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Deborah Strauss, Co-Director
Deborah Strauss is an internationally acclaimed klezmer violinist, an award-winning children's educator and a highly-regarded Yiddish dancer and dance leader.
The Strauss/Warschauer Duo
For over 25 years, Deborah Strauss (violin, accordion, vocals, dance) and Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, vocals) have been at the forefront of the international klezmer and Yiddish music scene. They were both long-time members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the premiere groups of the klezmer revival, and have performed with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman on film and in concert. They are renowned worldwide for their depth of experience and knowledge, and for their innovative performances, residencies and workshops.

The event will culminate in a one-of-a-kind joint choral/klezmer gala performance.

  • Come enjoy a breathtaking view and gourmet Kosher cuisine among new friends;
  • Experience formal and informal Hebrew, Yiddish and Israeli singing and dancing;
  • Participate in choral and klezmer ensembles formed by JewJamSouth participants;
  • Enjoy a full klezmer concert and dance party with the world-famous Strauss/Warschauer duo, pioneering performers of the klezmer revival; and
  • Learn new musical skills and repertoire to bring back home with you.
  • Email Bennie Cohen with any questions, and register now, as spots are filling up quickly!

April 1, 2014

Symposium: "Jewish Music Archives and the Future of Yiddish Song", Apr 6, 2014, NYC

Sunday, April 6, 11:00am
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street,
New York, New York 10011


Around 1900, East European Jews became acutely aware of the impact of modernization and urbanization on their culture: on their songs, their tales, and customs. They set in motion a wide range of projects and institutions to gather, archive, and study fading folklore. YIVO was a pioneer in this push, along with a galaxy of Polish and Russian (later Soviet) activists. Today, with the loss of the original population and the huge demographic and cultural shifts of world Jewry, the surviving archives both preserve and channel a rising tide of interest, even a hunger, for what's called "Yiddish" music and folklore.

This symposium brings together archivists, scholars and performers to discuss the history and creation of Yiddish folk music archives, and the future of the study and performance of Yiddish song today. What is the role of Jewish music archives in fostering new scholarship and Yiddish music?

The event is dedicated to the memory of Chana Mlotek, YIVO's Music Archivist from 1978 until her recent passing at age 91 in 2013.

Chair: Mark Slobin, Wesleyan University

More info:

March 10, 2014

NYC song class starts tonight: Klip-Klap in Goldn tir (Knock Knock on the Golden Door): Yiddish Folk Songs from the Ruth Rubin Archive

Join Lorin Sklamberg and explore the treasure trove of Yiddish folksongs collected by singer-musicologist Ruth Rubin (1906-2000). Repertoire will be drawn from the anthology Yiddish Folksongs of the Ruth Rubin Archive (Wayne State University/ YIVO 2007) and published and unpublished materials from her papers. Sessions will be illustrated by Rubin's original field tapes and discs held in YIVO's Sound Archives, and documentary and historical video material. Song texts and translations will be provided.

Max Weinreich Center
15 West 16th Street
New York, New York 10011

Register for Lorin's class here!

More on Facebook:

February 28, 2014

Help fund new Jewish cabaret program by Olga Mieleszczuk

Having given you the means to hear her music (and musicianship), I now pass on this note from Ellie Shapiro, Director of Berkeley, CA's Jewish Music Festival. Shapiro is currently on a Fulbright Fellowship in Poland.

Dear All:

Did you know that like Tin Pan Alley, Jewish musicians, lyricists, composers, presenters, radio and record producers were predominant in the Polish popular music industry between the wars? Jazz, cabaret, tango, film and theater in Polish, Hebrew and Yiddish … modern culture exploded in Polish large cities in the two decades of independence from 1919–1939. We're all familiar with the scene in Berlin from Cabaret … but Warsaw had its own rich, vibrant world. Most of the brilliant talents who created it did not survive the Holocaust.

The Polish-Israeli singer Olga Mieleszczuk has created a program with some of the most famous songs from this era. Titled Li-La-Lo, she has researched how some of the stars of the Polish stage also then created the cabaret scene in Tel-Aviv.

Bay Area JMF audiences will remember Olga from the opening concert of the 28th Jewish Music Festival with Polesye. She has now launched a funding campaign to support turning the Li-La-Lo project into a CD. This is music that deserves a wide hearing. I hope you will consider helping to bring it to a global audience. Please click on this link below to learn how you can!

CD of the day: Olga Mieleszczuk / Jewish Folksongs from the Shtetl

cd coverThere have been a spate of recent CDs uncovering new (or in this case, sometimes new) repertoire. In this case, Folk singer/researcher Olga Mielszczuk has followed up on field recordings by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett made in the Polesye region of what is now Belarus, back in 1968–1975, from the repertoire of Mariam Nirenberg. Polesye was the ancient cradle of the Slavic peoples and a center of Hasidism. Nirenberg, a pre-War Jewish folksinger, was born in this multicultural region. What I find most compelling is the mix of older songs with 20th century repertoire—many were learned from the gramophone or other media in the early part of the century and reflected then-popular music. What is exciting is to hear them in the context of old and new from a specific region, and to hear them in modern settings, sung by a lovely voice backed by stellar musicians from Poland, Israel, and the US. I received this 2012 recording months ago and continue to enjoy listening to it. It has also become a great CD for long car trips. You can get your copy of Olga Mieleszczuk / Jewish folksongs from the Shtetl from the artist's website. Enjoy!

While I am lauding Mieleszczuk's work, I should also note ask you to read the next post (which, blog-style, you probably read first), sent today by Ellie Shapiro, head of Berkeley's Jewish Music Festival.

July 30, 2013

Kahn, Charming Hostess, Schechter

Still pretending that I am making a dent in the piles (I count five, all labeled, "review first") of CDs and MP3s on the review tables):

cd coverWhat does a theatre major with an affinity with Yiddish do? Obviously, move to Berlin and make trouble. This latest release, "Bad Old Songs" by Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird demonstrates that trouble is in no danger of abating.

cd coverWho can keep up with Jewlia Eisenberg? "The Bowls Project" is the most radical, revolutionary, and delightful to listen to CD by Charming Hostess, yet.

cd coverHeartstoppingly beautiful settings for equally intricate and beautiful poetry by the late Rabbi Abraham Joshual Heschel, Basya Schechter's latest solo project, "Songs of Wonder" is the closest we have to new Yiddish music to carry on the tradition of the late Adrienne Cooper.

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... :-)")

April 23, 2012

22nd Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow, Poland, Jun 29 - Jul 8, 2012

From Jeff Warschauer to the Jewish Music list:

Come to the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow this summer!

For several years now I've had the great privilege of teaching the Yiddish Song workshop at the festival in Krakow. We truly have a wonderful time, and you will make new friends from all over the world. Here's the description for this year:

22nd Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, 2012

Yiddish Song Workshop: Answering the Big Questions Through Yiddish Songs

We all confront the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What shall we have for Shabbes lunch? And Yiddish songs attempt to answer these kinds of questions, too! Each year, a wonderful, international community comes together in Krakow to sing, dance, learn and have fun. All are welcome, with no previous experience necessary. Join us!

Info on the whole festival:,en.html

April 21, 2012

Witches of Lublin nominated for Audie Awards

From Yale Strom:

cd coverVery happy to announce that our klezmer-feminist-historical-magic realism audio drama, "The Witches of Lublin", has been nominated for three Audie Awards! Co-written by Ellen Kushner (of PRI's "Sound and Spirit"), Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom, with music by Strom, "The Witches of Lublin" was directed by Sue Zizza and stars Tovah Feldshuh, plus featured actors Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Barbara Rosenblat, and beloved actors from the Yiddish stage like Yelena Shumlenson, Sam Guncler and Joanne Borts. The music was performed by Strom, Sprocket, Alexander Fedouriok, Peter Stan and Schwartz (and the companion CD, "The Devil's Brides" with narration by Miriam Margolyes, is released by Arc Music UK). For more info: And here's the press release from the Audies:

The Audiobook of the Year Award recognizes the audiobook that, through quality, innovation, marketing and sales, has had the most significant impact on the audio industry.
The four titles selected to compete for the 2012 Distinguished Achievement in Production Award are:

  • The Mark of Zorro, by Yuri Rasovsky, narrated by Val Kilmer and a full cast (Zorro Productions, Inc., and Blackstone Audio, Inc.)
  • She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, selected, introduced and narrated by Caroline Kennedy and a full cast (Hyperion Audio)
  • The Watch That Ends the Night: Voices from the Titanic, by Allan Wolf, narrated by Michael Page, Phil Gigante, Christopher Lane, Laural Merlington and Angela Dawe (Candlewick on Brilliance Audio)
  • The Witches of Lublin, by Ellen Kushner, Elizabeth Schwartz and Yale Strom, narrated by Tovah Feldshuh, Neil Gaiman, Simon Jones, Barbara Rosenblat, Elizabeth Boskey, Joanne Borts, Yelena Shmulenson, Joyce Feurring, Tim Jerome and a full cast (SueMedia Productions)

March 31, 2012

Kickstarter: Document wooden synagogue painting recreation

This is a wonderful new project that I've heard of via the wonderful Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett:

Please put out the word! Help us document on film the creation of this extraordinary wooden synagogue's exquisite painted ceiling and timber-framed roof. More about how you can help:

November 26, 2010

Robinson reviews new Adrienne Cooper "Enchanted" - Hanukah must have recording

cd coverStarting to worry about what you might want to hand out this Hanukah? Well, the obvious answer is the new CD by Adrienne Cooper, Enchanted. George Robinson tells us more in this review in the Jewish Week:

New Musical Life For A Supposedly Dead Language, Thursday, November 4, 2010, George Robinson, The Jewish Week

You've already read my thoughts about referring to Yiddish with the tedious phrase, "supposedly dead language" in a post earlier this evening, but George and I are in significant agreement—this is the real deal, and an amazing recording. I'd go into more detail, but it's his turn.

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

August 3, 2009

Bronya Sakina - live in 1986

As long as I'm stealing a few minutes at lunch, let me get up this video posted by the amazing Mark Rubin, last seen live by me just a week and a half ago, with Frank London and the Klezmer Brass AllStars at the Lowell Folk Festival. Man, two years ago it was Stephen Greenman. This year, Frank London. That festival is doing well at scoring Jewish performers worth seeing. So, where was I … Itzik Gottesman sent Mark this VHS tape about 15 years ago. It's from a conference in 1986. It's just a fragment, but a long enough fragment that you get a sense of why Michael Alpert and so many others credit her with being a primary influence on learning Yiddish song. It matters a lot, now that she's gone, to have something online that helps memorialize her and helps convey at least this couple of songs.

May 15, 2009

Interesting "Sha Shtil"

Shades of the Sway Machinery. Go an email: "Hi. I thought you might be interested in this video. It's an unusual interpretation." Indeed.

April 5, 2009

Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird - Yiddish Culture is Alive, like it or not

So, a while back, someone clueless in the UK wrote about how only jerks ignorant of "current" Jewish culture would be caught up in lifeless klezmer concerts vs., say, the Ramones or Leonard Cohen. Personally, I dig both, but don't actually think of their work as "Jewish" or substitute for same.

Ruth Ellen Gruber, in this article that I should have posted ages ago, counters indirectly by reporting the energy and crowds appearing to hear Daniel Kahn's "Painted Bird" ensemble. Of course, if you've been listening to "Partisans and Parasites" or have seen Kahn and Painted Bird, this will not be news. In all events, the article is fun to read:

Ruthless Cosmopolitan: Klezmer and the ghost of Germany past, by Ruth Ellen Gruber, February 25, 2009

Read that, and then look at Turn off the klezmer and turn up the Ramones. Shades of Heeb magazine! Another person confused about the difference between "Jewy" and "Jewish".

March 29, 2009

Wolf Krakowski interview on Israeli radio

Israeli radio interviewer Binyomin Bresky writes:

Interview with Jewish singer and guitarist Wolf Krakowski on his remakes of classic Yiddish songs from the Holocaust as blues, world beat, folk and reggae. Wolf describes how his personal history infused these melodies in him and his desire to "give the audio finger" to the Nazis.

To download the podcast click here:

June 29, 2008

Three new reviews by Keith Wolzinger

CD coverWhile my back was turned, Keith Wolzinger has zipped out three more reviews which are now copied here to the KlezmerShack. First, he beat me to the punch and reviewed the most recent Metropolitan Klezmer CD, the deliciously live, "Traveling Show." For hard-driving, enormously fun, American-style klezmer, this band cannot be beat (nor, given Eve at the drumkit, can they lose the beat!)

CD coverNext up is singer Lori Cahan-Simon's latest collection of lesser-known Yiddish songs that, had we been luckier, our bubbies would have taught us. When Chanukah rolls around again this winter, we'll be ready, because she has assembled her usual amazing team and recorded some very special songs in Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration. Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume Two

CD coverFinally, what Keith calls "neo-klezmer," Toronto's klez-jazz fusion band, Klezfactor releases its second smash album, Klezmachine.

Enjoy! And many thanks to Keith.

February 23, 2008

Songlines gives four stars to "Baym Taykh"

CD coverSonglines Magazine, one of the remaining primarily-print music magazines (the refusal to get all content online and accessible is all the more puzzling with the announcement this week that No Depression is giving up the print ghost), gives The Polina Shepherd Vocal Experience / Baym Taykh a "4 star" review, in an article by Helen Beer. This is frustrating, of course, because we can only link to the magazine and encourage you to find a copy. But here is a paragraph from the review:

Polina Shepherd is a formidable all-round musician: a composer, pianist, singer and Yiddish choir leader from the former Soviet Union, who now resides in the UK. Baym Taykh (By the River), featuring the vocal quartet Ashkenazim, is innovative in its enormous range of musical expression. This CD explores tightly arranged four-part singing, voice styles which mirror instrumental ornamentation alongside more fluid choral experimentation. Solo voices and vocal duos weave in and out of the quartet, with or without accompaniment (piano, saxophone, clarinet, guitar, double-bass). Shepherd's compositions are highly original and sensitive musical settings of interesting, lesser- known Yiddish poems.

Abe Cahan's articles on Yiddish Dance available

The indefatigable Helen Winkler posted this announcements to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Cantor Joseph Levine has translated excerpts from Cahan's Yiddish articles about the Yiddish dance songs and you can read the English translation at:

or via the dance-song page, (original Yiddish can be accessed from this page).

February 11, 2008

New reviews by Keith Wolzinger

CD coverI have been slowly gathering in reviews written by Keith Wolzinger over the last few months. There are many more to come, but in the meantime, check out his wide-ranging examination of the post-klezmer sounds of The Lithuanian Empire, country-Jewish Mare Winningham / Refugee Rock Sublime, Yiddish folk and theatre songs from Hy Wolfe / Yiddish Songs for the Soul, world Jewish music by Montrealer Hélène Engel Trio / Voyage, and new Jewish sounds of another Montrealer, Shelley Posen / Menorah.

February 10, 2008

George Robinson reviews: Polina Shepherd, Metropolitan Klezmer, Blue Fringe, Romashka video, and more

CD coverAlong with Elliott Simon, George Robinson is the one other reviewer of new Jewish music who continues to publish about a wonderful gamut from the avant garde to klezmer to music from the newer Orthodox-based jam band sounds. Catching up to links that ya'll should have seen months ago, I present: Chanukah: For listening, for giving—klezmer and its cousins, by George Robinson. There are video clips from several bands, as well as reviews. Enjoy!

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.

October 16, 2007

Yiddish "Hard Day's Night"

Once of the things I miss most from my years in California is Gerry Tenney's wonderful Yiddish rock 'n' roll. Someone (maybe Gerry, himself) has taking his version of "hard day's night" (in Yiddish) and synced it to the original video. Priceless:

September 29, 2007

From Israrel: new cd "From Grey To Blue With Itzik Manger"

CD coverFrom Israel: Check out new cd "From Grey To Blue With Itzik Manger" with Yiddish Songs and Klezmer music!

Tapuach B'dvash And Marina Yakubovich / From Grey To Blue With Itzik Manger

Israeli folk-group Tapuach b'Dvash (Apple in Honey) was created in 2002. It is comprised of musicians from Ukraine and Russia, that immigrated to Israel. The ensemble presents Jewish music from all parts of the world where Jewish culture has existed and mixes various musical influences. A specialty of the band is authentic sounds and using of interesting ethnic instruments, including kaval, nei, Russian spoons, and darbuka. The experiments of sound combinations form original style of the band.

June 9, 2007

Weimar Yiddish Summer, Weimar, Germany, Jul 9 - Aug 9

Weimar Yiddish SummerThe Weimar Yiddish Summer, runs this year from July 9 through August 9 in Weimar, Germany.

For further information,

May 12, 2007

Channe Nussbaum and Klezfobia video

Dennis Wilen, of the Jewish Journal of LA spotted this one: the amazing Danish Yiddish pop star, Channe Nussbaum:

March 14, 2007

Three new Yiddish publications—two songbooks—from Medem, France

The Paris Yiddish Center-Medem Library has recently published three books (two song collections and a book of short stories):

The catalogue of the "Medem-Bibliotek" Publishing House includes 12 titles to date. Full details at:

Continue reading "Three new Yiddish publications—two songbooks—from Medem, France" »

Living Tradiitons releases Zeev Scooler CD

Zeev Schooler CD coverLiving Traditions has just released a new CD anthology of the beloved Yiddish actor Zvee Scooler's selected radio performances, poetry, and even commercials. This is the first in a series in Living Traditions' releases—in the original Yiddish—of rare selections from the Yiddish Radio Project archives.

Continue reading "Living Tradiitons releases Zeev Scooler CD" »

November 29, 2006

New Yiddish Choral music CD from JPPC

Zingt album cover - one definition of fusty typography & designZINGT! A CELEBRATION OF YIDDISH CHORAL MUSIC the brand new CD with mainly never-before-recorded Yiddish choral music, is available!

Recorded by the
Jewish People's Philharmonic Chorus
with Binyumen Schaechter, Conductor
**Full text and translations included in booklet.**
A great Chanukah gift!

For more info (and to order), go to and click
on "Our CD".

November 22, 2006

Another path: Inna Barmash on "Oyfn Veg"

While I am busy reviewing a few favorites from the huge piles around the CD changer, Inna Barmash writes in from a visit to Eastern Europe:

CD coverJust wanted to share the website for a wonderful new CD "Oyfn Veg" by the Russian-based duo *Igor Beliy* and *Yevgeniya Slavina* - some fresh executions of old chestnuts, some originals, and some more rare numbers. I don't know the performers personally, but I do love their style, and hopefully will see them perform live one day (meanwhile, there are several mp3s on the site under the "Music in Mp3" section.

The website for the recording/duo is:

March 2, 2006

"Shalom Comrade" CD release - Yiddish music in the USSR, 1928-1961

cd coverFrom Joel Rubin:

We are pleased to announce the US release today (Feb. 14, 2006) of "Shalom Comrade!: Yiddish Music in the Soviet Union 1928-1961" (Schott Wergo SM 1627-2), the 10th production in the Jewish Music Series of CDs edited by ethnomusicologists Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens. "Shalom Comrade" and other productions of the Jewish Music Series are distributed by Harmonia Mundi USA.

For more information:

Continue reading ""Shalom Comrade" CD release - Yiddish music in the USSR, 1928-1961" »

February 11, 2006

Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer ROCK

band photoI don't know how many times I have seen Deborah Strauss* and Jeff Warschauer. As often as possible, as it happens, and it adds up. Tonight's show at Workmen's Circle in Brookline, though, was the rockingest show I've ever seen them do. It was like a cross between a chassidic revival and a bluegrass show, except for the lack of chassidim and bluegrass.

Continue reading "Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer ROCK" »

December 28, 2005

Yiddish 78s online!

Dancin' Steve Weintraub found this and posted it to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Perhaps everyone knows about this site except me, but I just ran across the collection of rare 78 recordings you can listen to on RealPlayer:

Including is a very nice bit of badkhones, lyrics to Rayze nokh Amerika, which I had previously only known as an instrumental, and an english language foxtrot version of di mezinke oysgegeben, titled "Titina" (rhymes with Palestina and farina) recorded, no less, by the Bar Harbor Society Orchestra!

Happy listening.

October 1, 2005

Brave Old World to perform "Songs of the Lodz Ghetto" in San Francisco, Oct 15

Brave Old World

Songs of the Lodz GhettoBrave Old World
Song of the Lodz Ghetto
In Yiddish, with English Supertitles

Saturday, October 15, 8:00 pm
JCCSF, 3200 California St. at Presidio Ave.
Tickets: Members $20 | Public $25 | Students $15
Box Office: (415) 292-1233
Box Office hours: Monday - Friday, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm; Saturday, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm.
Click here to purchase tickets online.

March 16, 2005

new CD of Yiddish Folksongs by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman!

Itzik Gottesman reports on a new CD by his mother (I hope to start work on typesetting a new CD by Hy Wolfe for Itzik's Yiddishland label very soon):

album coverHi. I am happy to report that a new CD of Yiddish folksongs sung by Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman has just come out.

"Bay mayn mames shtibele" (At my mother's house) is a great recording and includes a studio session from 1994 with Lorin Sklamberg on accordion and Alicia Svigals on violin; and a live concert from the Cactus Cafe in Austin, TX from 1993. The website on Yiddishland Records ( has not caught up to the latest news yet which will include all the words to the songs, but in a few weeks it will all be there. In the meantime, the CD is availaable for purchase at:

May 4, 2004

New Yiddish+Tsimbl album by Kaplan and Rushefsky

album coverAnnouncing a new CD by Rebecca Kaplan & Pete Rushefsky:

Oyf di vegelekh / On the Paths: Yiddish Songs with Tsimbl

a Yiddishland Records release

Available from:

Beautiful and haunting Yiddish folk songs accompanied by the tsimbl (cimbalom), a harp-like hammered dulcimer. In "On the Paths," Rebecca Kaplan & Pete Rushefsky have brought to life rarely-heard gems of Yiddish music from collections by Moshe Beregovski, the Mloteks, Mariam Nirenberg, Joseph Moskowitz and Ruth Rubin, as well as materials learned from Soviet-born folk singer Larisa Novicheva and her mother Anna. Both artists additionally contribute original works, including "Shoyn fir yor," a new Yiddish song by Rebecca Kaplan. The CD includes a 20-page booklet that presents all lyrics in Yiddish/transliteration/English translation.

Pete Rushefsky:
Rebecca Kaplan:

[Disclaimer: Ari Davidow typeset the liner notes and thinks they look almost as good as the music sounds. Signed, Ari Davidow]

Continue reading "New Yiddish+Tsimbl album by Kaplan and Rushefsky" »

April 11, 2004

new albums by Shtreiml and Brave Old World

Album cover: I still haven't seen a Brave Old World cover that I likedThe new Brave Old World album, Bless the Fire, doesn't seem to be getting the kind of press it deserves. Granted, that would involve a ticker tape parade and mention on every streetcorner - this is the sort of music that reminds me of why I maintain these pages and why I love to listen to new Jewish music. In my minor worshipful way, I try to remedy the situation.

Album cover: nice. You don't need fancy type to be niceShtreiml just gets better. For an outstanding band, that is no small feat. This Montreal-based klezmer band mixed Yiddish song with new and old klezmer instrumentals on "Spicy Paprikash" in a way that makes everything feel fresh and wonderful. Just because they aren't an American band shouldn't get in the way of discovering how good this new recording is. Besides, the band includes Josh "SoCalled" Dolgin, klezmer scion Rachel Lemish, along with Jason Rosenblatt on Harmonica and more.

Cahan-Simon's "Vessel of Song" CD earns rave

album coverMichael Fein writes about Lori Cahan-Simon's recent tribute to the music of Mikhl Gelbart on his "Gantseh Megillah" website (the website looks like it has some interesting content, but may not be generally accessible to people not most comfortable playing video games):

Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl Gelbart, Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble

February 2, 2004

New KlezmerShack reviews

Four new reviews on the KlezmerShack:

album coverFreylach Time!, based in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina is a tradtional klezmer gem. It is also a community treasure. Now that the band has finally recorded, you can hear for yourself: Freylach Time! / The Klezmer Dance Band

album coverLondon's Oi Va Voi has been impressing audiences from the UK to KlezKamp and everywhere in between for years. Whatever they are playing, it isn't klezmer any more, except insofar as it gets people up to dance. This new album, "Laughter Through Tears" just made the New York Time's "10 Best" list for 2003. For a change, I agree!: Oi Va Voi / Laughter Through Tears

album coverCésar Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky are two amazing musicians from Argentina. I've seen them perform in the UK and Canada. Now you can year why audiences love them and their brand of passionate klezmer infused with South American jazz. The new album, Sobreviviente, is live: Lerner Moguilevsky Duo / Sobreviviente

album coverA year with a new release from the Klezmer Conservatory Band is a good year. This latest contains many new gems - more than a taste of paradise: Klezmer Conservatory Band / A Taste of Paradise

November 23, 2003

New KlezmerShack reviews

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

    August 11, 2003

    Klezmatics to do Woody Guthrie Hanukkah program

    On Dec. 20, The Klezmatics and special guest vocalists will present a special holiday concert featuring the world premiere of Woody Guthrie's Hanukkah songs, translated into Yiddish. Called The Yiddish Woody Guthrie, it will take place at 1395 Lexington Ave, New York City. The Klezmatics have been working with Nora Guthrie and the Woody Guthrie Archives to uncover Guthrie's unknown Jewish holiday songs. Also featured will be songs by Guthrie's mother-in-law and famous New York Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt. Presented by the Y's MAKOR program.

    I'll post more to the calendar for that date as I know it, but if you think of how amazing the recent Woody Guthrie music done by Billy Bragg was, and you think of the Klezmatics and what they added to their collaboration with Chava Alberstein, you can see why being in New York this Hanukkah may seem essential.

    June 8, 2003

    Lots of new reviews of almost everything

    the pied piper of desert bands - a long time since I've enjoyed a tzadik cover!I got carried away. CDs were falling off the shelf, so I sat down this weekend and stayed sat down until I got several reviewed. We've got some great new Jewish music, some avant garde and jazz, some klezmer (lots of klezmer), some Sephardic and Mizrahi music, more klezmer and Yiddish folk.... That's not the whole gamut, but odds are that something in this weekend's stack will be just what you were looking for:

    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 27, 2003

    New Flying Bulgars; Album Release May 10,11

    Flying Bulgars publicity shot w/instruments
    There are a very few new Jewish music bands: Brave Old World, say, or the Klezmatics, who consistently push the envelope and take my breath away like the Flying Bulgars. I have arranged work schedules so that I can stop off in Toronto to see them perform. It is therefore with great excitement that I present the following:

    The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
    presents a CD Release Celebration Concert for their new recording,
    Sweet Return
    Saturday, May 10, 8:30pm; Sunday, May 11, 2pm
    Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St W, Toronto
    Tickets: Sat. $15/Sun. $12 BOX OFFICE: 416-531-6604

    Continue reading "New Flying Bulgars; Album Release May 10,11" »

    Max and Minka accordion duo release

    absolutely amazing album coverJeanette Lewicki is better known to many of us as the accordion and voice of San Francisco's anarcho-klezmer street trio, "The Gonifs," or from her work with the San Francsico Klezmer Experience. Now, paired with Matthew Fass as "Max and Minka" the duo have produced one of the loveliest klezmer/accordion/everything music CDs to have arrived in recent years. The first half of the CD consists of (mostly) Yiddish songs and klezmer. The second half, though, is an enormously inventive, wonderful "patchwork suite."

    The cover is an amazing print of rather delightful artwork. Open up the CD and see the accordion fold connecting the duo. The lyrics are printed (albeit at leading that is a trifle tight) in a prime unreadable Yiddish typeface nicely matched to English.

    This is the sort of CD that you purchase because it is a work of art, and then you discover that there is some great music on it, as well!, while they last.

    Continue reading "Max and Minka accordion duo release" »

    April 3, 2003

    Argentinian Yiddish Choir on the Web: Spanish, English

    We'd like to invite you to visit the new English version of the site of the Popular Jewish Choir "Mordje Guebirtig"

    The Choir was created in 1995 in Buenos Aires, Argentina and it's integrated for 175 singers between women and men.

    Inside the site you can find the complete Choir history, songs, pictures and many others interesting things.

    Well, we'll very pleased with your visit in

    March 26, 2003

    Wolf Krakowski + Middle Eastern roots music w/Alicia Svigals

    most recent Krakowski album coverA most fascinating concert is coming up on Mar 26th at UConn/Storrs. Yiddish folk-rocker Wolf Krakowski headlines, backed with the Lonesome Brothers. Also on the bill is Mawwal, described as a "Middle Eastern roots music" with violin wizard Alicia Svigals making a guest appearance.

    The idea of bringing Yiddish music together with Middle Eastern music suggests not only a fascinating fusion (especially given Krakowski's country-rockish leanings), but makes it's own rather nice statement.

    More information is available on Krakowski's Kamea Media site,, and from an online PDF

    March 23, 2003

    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

    February 17, 2003

    Best of 2002, from George Robinson

    Every year, George Robinson pegs the best of the albums that he has reviewed. The Klezmershack is months behind, so I'm just getting this up now. Still, the choices are excellent, so any time is the right time to read them:

    April 21, 2002

    Michael Alpert to innaugurate Brookline Workmen's Circle coffeehouse, Sat Apr 27

    Hosted by Michael Alpert, in the first set, he will perform and talk about his personal history and connection to Eastern European klezmer music. He will also answer questions from the audience. In the second half, he will host a klezmer jam. All instruments (including voice) at all levels are welcome. For further info: please contact The Workmen's Circle at 617-566-6281 or email at:

    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 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.'

    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.

    February 3, 2002

    New Yiddish Passover CD - Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me, Volume One: Passover

    Featuring Lori Cahan-Simon, Steven Greenman, Michael Alpert and friends, the new CD is a gorgeous compilation of all Yiddish Passover songs. Five of these songs have never been recorded before, including Michael Alpert singing the Matzo-baking song, a capella. Review

    Continue reading "New Yiddish Passover CD - Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me, Volume One: Passover" »

    December 9, 2001

    Arkady Gendler: "My Hometown Soroke, Yiddish Songs of the Ukraine"

    Continue reading "Arkady Gendler: "My Hometown Soroke, Yiddish Songs of the Ukraine"" »

    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.

    December 1, 2001

    The latest hot stuff, part 2, 12 Dec 2001

    Capsule reviews of music by Moshe 'Moussa' Berlin, Klezmokum, Di Naye Kapelye, Shirim Klezmer Orchestra w/Ellen Kushner, Lerner & Moguilevsky (aka 'Klezmer en Buenos Aires'), Hester Street Troupe, Mesinke, a rerelease from the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, and two compilations: the Rough Guide to Klezmer and Henry Sapoznik's Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World.