Markus Bishko & The Alaska Klezmer Band
featuring Hankus Netsky and Nokhes fun Newbury

Review | Personnel | Songlist/sound samples

For more information:

About Alaska Klezmer Band

For bookings and info, contact:
Markus' Music
PO Box 873706, Wasilla, AK 99687
E-mail Alaska Klezmer

Album cover: a tasteful Bishko & flute w/pretentionsly distorted grunge type from Emigre.

Markus Bishko &
The Alaska Klezmer Band

Markus Music 1996 MMCD-01

Available through:
The Jewish Book Center of The Workmen's Circle
45 E. 33rd, NYC, NY 10016
800 922 2558, x285

or via Nightworks:

I wanted very much to enjoy Markus Bishko's Alaska Klezmer Band. Much to my relief, I largely do. At the same time, while Bishko provides one of the rare opportunities to listen to a klezmer playing flute, often the music misses that "krekhts" that defines klezmer. The notes are the right notes, and the playing is a pleasure (and enjoyable on just those terms), but it doesn't make me want to get up and dance. Oddly, it is on Bishko-penned numbers such as his delightful "Between Heaven and Earth," or on the romping "Shmulei's Stomp medley closing out the album, that the band sounds best, rather than on the traditional klezmer repertoire.

As is often the case, the numbers accompanied by singing are the weakest link on the album, and explain (in part) why traditional klezmorim used to refrain from same (of course, they also had those awful badkhanim to take up the vocal slack). This might partly be a choice of material. In particular, "Shabes Shabes" is a treacly hasidic throw-away which probably sounds very good when sung over a dinner table by dozens of drunk hasidim--at least as heard by a similarly inebriated (on the joy of the Sabbath, if not wine) crowd of participants. Here, it sounds more precious than convincing, and stand out because the rest of the album is musically convincing. In a similar vein, "Tumbalalaika" may be a chestnut, but it can be a fun chestnut. Here it seems to be treated as an archaism unearthed and held at arm's distance by Bishko's voice.

I have to note, with pleasure, the playing of the "Nokhes fun Newbury" featuring Klezmer Conservatory Band stalwarts such as Jeff Warschauer and Hankus Netsky, and to several duets between Netsky and Bishko that are most pleasant. Their presence will help draw deservedly wider attention of KCB fans to this recording.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 7/12/97

Personnel this recording:

The Alaska Klezmer Band

Markus Bishko: flute, voice, accordion, djembe
Victoria Salfer, tummler: percussion, tchatchkes
Mari Jamieson: violin
Fred Harding: tuba

Nokes fun Newbury

Markus Bishko: flute
Jessica Baum: viola
Jeff Warschauer: guitar, mandolin
Andy Blickenderfer: bass, mandolin


Markus Bishko: flute
Hankus Netsky: piano

  1. Yismekhu (trad.) 4:06
  2. Kiever Bulgar (trad.) 2:50
  3. A yor erst nokh mayn khasene (trad.) 1:21
  4. Ardeleana (trad. Romanian) 4:00*
  5. Shabes, Shabes (trad.) 2:40
  6. Between Heaven and Earth (Markus Bishko) 3:25
  7. Sirba Popillar (trad.) 4:00
  8. Doina (Dave Tarras) 4:04**
  9. Hora for Naftule (Markus Bishko) 2:48**
  10. Waltz Medley Tumbalalaika (trad.) / Mikor az est miselni kezd (trad. Hungarian) 5:19
  11. Tants-a-freylakhs (Shloimke Beckerman) 2:44*
  12. Haneros Halelu (trad.) 3:17
  13. Rebns Tants (trad.) 2:40
  14. Terkishe Yale V'yove Tants (Naftule Brandwein) 3:39*
  15. Kale Bezetsn (trad.) 5:55
  16. Shmueli's Stomp (Markus Bishko) / Al Hanisim (trad.) 5:26
*Nokhes fun Newbury
**Duet (Bishko-Netsky)

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