Abraham Inc / Tweet Tweet
Table Pounding Records, 2009.
Available online from the Abraham Inc website
For over a decade, Josh "SoCalled" Dolgin and David Krakauer have been melding Yiddish folk and show tunes, vintage Jewish samples, SoCalled's rhymes, and Krakauer's searing clarinet. A few years ago they took their collaboration to a new level by adding James Brown trombonist Fred Wesley. This is dance music that would take your bubbe by surprise. On the other hand, if your bubbe is like mine, she knows from her James Brown a lot better than from her klezmer. Hah.
The opening track takes a klezmer melody from the late German Goldenshteyn and transforms it into funk paradise. The band continues in a same vein, reworking the Krakauer-SoCalled concert staple, "Moskowitz" into a driving, urgent, urban dance beat. The utter "funkification" of "Hava Nagila" in "The 'H' tune" is just perfect, especially with the Stevie Wonder-like vocals in the background. Wesley's trombone is featured and pulls equally amazing sounds out of Krakauer's clarinet. The hora will never be the same. "Baleboste," which Socalled has performed for years, also gets a funky reworking that again brings it right back to the dance floor in a slow-burning, incessant groove with some searing lead guitar.
Some songs, such as "Push" or "It's not the same (figure it out)" could easily have appeared on any on Krakauer's or Dolgin's recent releases, especially as Krakauer wails "Nifty's Freilach" in the background, even as the rappers hit the main line and Katie Moore's incredible voice lifts the refrain. Others, like "Trombonik," with its waves of rappers and Wesley's Mickey Katz imitation, are clearly unique to this trio and their friends.
Since the KlezmerShack avoids no cheesy hyperbole, it is easy to call this the funkiest Jewish release, ever. The sad truth, however, is that beyond a wonderful release by The Lithuanian Empire years ago, Jewish music has been largely funk-free. Thank goodness that dearth is now over. Until the band gets together and puts out another release, this is as good as it gets. Hell, this is just wonderful. If James Brown had gotten klezmer, even with Fred Wesley, he would have been happy to sound this good. Get your copy, and maybe a few spares, at the Abraham Inc store.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 11 October 2014
Personnel this recording:
David Krakauer: clarinet
Fred Wesley: trombone
Socalled: sampler, piano, organ, and vocals
C Rayz Walz: rap vox
Katie Moore: vocals
Matthew Flowers: vocals
Joshie Armstead: vocals
Alicia Krakauer: vocals
Sheryl Bailey: lead guitar (except on "The 'H' tune")
Allen Watsky: rhythm guitar (lead on "The 'H' tune")
Jerome Harris: electric bass
Michael Sarin: drums
Freddie Hendrix: trumpet
Brandon Wright: tenor sax
Will Holshouser: accordion ("Moskowitz Remix")
Jordan Dare: "techno remix"
- Tweet-Tweet (words: Dolgin, Shabazz; music: trad., Dolgin, Wesley, Krakauer, Goldenshteyn) 4:25
- Moskowitz remix (Dolgin, Krakauer, Wesley) 4:54
- It's not the same (figure it out)—after "Nify's Freilach" (words: Shabazz, Dolgin; music: Brandwein, arr. Dolgin, Wesley) 4:14
- The H tune (Hava Nagila) (words: Idelsohn; music: trad., Krakauer, Wesley, Dolgin) 5:20
- Trombonik (words: Shabazz; music: trad., Farber, arr. Dolgin, Wesley) 5:20
- Push (words: Dolgin; msuic: Wesley, Dolgin) 2:21
- Baleboste: A beautiful picture (words: Dolgin, Shabazz; music: trad., Dolgin, Krakauer) 6:39
- Fred the tzadik (Krakauer, Dolgin, Wesley) 3:48
- Abe inc techno mix (trad., Dolgin, Krakauer, Dare) 4:59