Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas / Eyn Velt
Review by Keith Wolzinger
Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas / Eyn Velt, 2008
Face The Music- FTM-2008
Available from www.littleshopofhoras.com
Brian Bender has an adventurous musical spirit that is reflected in the tracks of Eyn Velt, his latest CD release. Combining his gift for mixing melodies and rhythms from different cultures with his multi-instrumental abilities creates a distinctive sound that can be readily identified as his own. While it is not uncommon these days to find Jewish melodies mixed with other cultures, Bender has collaborated with some of the best known Jewish musicians and added an outstanding cast of backing musicians that combine to give a compelling listening experience. The CD booklet describes the music as "Original and traditional Jewish melodies blended with Latin, Caribbean, African, and Middle Eastern rhythms."
Bender has composed four original songs for Eyn Velt and arranged all of the songs. He performs on Trombone, Trumpet, Baritone Horn, Melodica, Keyboards, Percussion, and Vocals. Quite an impressive range of abilities. He also has some of the best-known guest artists appearing on the album, such as Alicia Svigals: Fiddle; Frank London: Trumpet; and Stu Brotman: Bass. I must also mention the outstanding Flute/Sax performances by Lise Brown.
What we find on these tracks is a blending of Jewish melodies with rhythms and backgrounds from many different cultural traditions. We end up with a style of world fusion music that has Bender's signature sound on each track. Yet, each song's arrangement lives up to the tradition of the particular culture. While each song stands on its own, as you listen through the album there is a common thread woven by Bender that ties the album together nicely as a suite.
I cannot single out just one song as my favorite. I like them all, and find myself humming along without even thinking about it. However, if I were pressed for a response, I would pick "El Judio" as the most representative of the music on the album. An original by Bender, it combines a Klezmer theme with a Latin Jazz groove. Latin Jazz happens to be another favorite genre of mine, so it plays to my taste quite nicely.
The disc sounds quite good, with all the instruments, vocals, and exotic percussion clear and distinct. The CD booklet does not credit the recording engineer, but lists that the album was mastered by Jim Hemingway.
The CD booklet is a 8-page foldout with good song information, a page by Bender detailing his motivation for the album, and a bio page.
I enjoyed this album very much. Jewish music does blend well with other cultures, and this is an excellent example of how to do it right. The title Eyn Velt says it all, and should appeal to a broad range of listeners.
Reviewed by Keith Wolzinger, Mar 4, 2008
Personnel this recording:
Brian Bender: Trombone, Trumpet, Baritone Horn, Melodica, Keyboards, Percussion, and Vocals
Alicia Svigals: fiddle
Frank London: trumpet
Charles Neville: saxophone
Jose Gonzalez: guitar, cuatro
Raquy Danziger: percussion
Backa Niang: percussion
Stuart Brotman: bass
Grant Smith: drums
- Der Gazebo(Klezmer/Arabic) (Brian Bender) 6:51
- El Judio (Klezmer/Latin Jazz) (Brian Bender) 8:06
- Papirosn (Klezmer/Samba) (music: trad. Bulgarian folk melody; lyrics: Herman Yablokoff) 6:31
- Avadim Hayenu (Hebrew Reggae) (trad. Hebrew) 5:06
- Hebraish (Klezmer/Arabic) (Brian Bender) 7:03
- Di Grine Kuzine (Klezmer/Swing) (Abe Schwartz) 3:40
- Shloimele Malkele (Klezmer/African) (J. Rumshinsky) 7:09
- Long Island Groove (Chassidic/Calypso) (trad. Chassidic Nigun) 4:33
- Jahdonai (Hebrew Reggae) (Brian Bender) 4:26
- Artik (Klezmer/Turkish) (trad. Turkish) 6:37
- Bobover Binghi (Chassidic/Nyabinghi) (trad. Chassici Nigun) 4:40
All songs arranged by Brian Bender. "Di Grine Kuzine" arranged by Lise Brown and Brian Bender.