Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band / Fire

Album cover: Fire? This looks more like pulled teeth. Or something very feminine and very personal. Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
Flying Bulgar Recordings, 1997, FBR CD 003

Distributed by Traditional Crossroads
PO Box 20320 Greeley Square Station
New York, NY 10001-9992, USA

For their third album, Toronto's Flying Bulgars invited Adrienne Cooper and a bunch of other friends to Toronto to play, and invited an audience to come listen. This new CD documents the results. (Official disclaimer: I was present both at the recording concert, and at the album release party, where much of the album was played again. The two friends with whom I attended the first concert liked it so much that we each brought another friend or two to the second concert. We liked it a lot.)

Mixing folks known to the Yiddish and klezmer world such as Steven Greenman (Budowitz, Yiddishe Cup), or the incomparable Adrienne Cooper (Kapelye et al), and then adding folks from outside that world, such as amazing Cuban/African percussionist Rick Lazar, already guarantees that the music will be played well, and that it will be a fusion of many styles. Unlike recent work, even by greats such as Andy Statman, where the results occasionally sound like klezmer glued to jazz, rather than a fusion, this is work that goes back and forth between klezmer and jazz and world rhythms in ways that make sense both to the listener and to the dancer. At one point, listening to Lazar's percussion I realized that, while I often find too much trap drumming in a klez piece to be a distraction, here, the percussion was the feet dancing to the rhythm, the hands clapping to the rhythm--it was an integral part of this klezmer experience.

Somehow, blissfully, on this recording, all of these diverse strands work together and we hear something that defines new territory for klezmer in 1997. From the opening "Sam," or with the scat on "Dig," for instance, I wonder how this came to be a part of a klezmer album. Except that it works, and it is no longer possible, having heard it, to imagine this album as complete without that piece. And yet, that is followed by a pan-klez/Cuban "Kalle tants" that is as much solid klezmer as the former song was something that drew from klezmer and moved elsewhere.

I also have to call attention to the songs chosen for Adrienne Cooper to sing. In some cases, they are traditional songs with relatively traditional arrangements. In the case of "Di drei neytorins" the arrangement is entirely new to an old I.L. Peretz. To me, this is one of the most important and wonderful parts of this album: On the one hand, klezmer is fusing with other musics; on the other, Yiddish lives, and new music to new and old Yiddish poems is still being written. If there is a complaint, it is, as Cooper noted, that too many of these songs, including the shockingly effective "Milkhume" that closes the album, are still all too current.

I guess I can finally put, "Agada*" aside for a while. I'll be listening to this album a lot a lot for a long, long time.

*At the CD release party, Michael Wex and several other folks came to perform a wonderful, wonderful reprise of the Agada hit, "Vuz Vet Zeyn"--just in case any of us thought to move on permanently (grin).

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 2/22/97

Personnel this recording:
David Buchbinder: trumpet, fluegelhorn
Paul Pacanowski: clarinet
Sasha Luminsky: accordion, piano
Artie Roth: bass
Bucky Berger: drums

Adrienne Cooper: vocals
Steven Greenman: violin
Rick Shadrach Lazar: dumbeq, rik, chekere, bass drum, percussion
Richard Armin: cello
Ernie Tollar: alto saxophone, bansuri

  1. Sam (David Buchbinder) 3:55
  2. Buma (trad., arr. Sasha Luminsky) 4:54
  3. Di drei neytorins / The three seamstresses Intro: Adrienne Cooper 1:11
  4. Di drei neytorins / The three seamstresses (words: IL Peretz/music: M. Shneyer & D. Buchbinder; arr. Buchbinder) 4:32
  5. Doyne Istanbul/ (Arr. D. Buchbinder) 3:58
  6. /Dem Trisker Rebn's niggen / Song of the Rabbi from Trisk (trad., arr. D. Buchbinder, S. Greenman, S. Luminsky, P. Pacanowski, A. Roth) 3:13
  7. Yash / Whisky (Intro: Adrienne Cooper) 0:38
  8. Yash / Whiskey (words: Yoysef Kerler/music: V. Shainsky; adapted & arr. S. Luminsky) 3:48
  9. Simkhes Toyre (trad./B. Berger, D. Buchbinder, S. Luminsky, P. Pacanowski, A. Roth, R. Lazar, L. Cesar) 8:07
  10. Mayne Yunge Yorn / My Youth (Intro: Adrienne Cooper) 0:55
  11. Mayne Yunge Yorn / My Youth (trad./arr. Adrienne Cooper) 2:54
  12. Moskowitz (Joseph Moskowitz; adapted & arr. Alan Bern and FBKB) 8:11
  13. Dig (D. Buchbinder) 6:44
  14. Di kalle tants / The bride's dance (trad., adapted & arr. Martin van de Ven) 8:15
  15. Milkhume / War (words: Abraham Reisen/music: Michael Gelbart & Milton Barnes; arr. M. Barnes & D. Buchbinder) 7:30

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