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Kaila Flexer & Third Ear
Well, this one isn't klezmer either. Kaila has been pretty upfront over the years about wanting to create something that pulls all of the folk and classical traditions she encounters into something new. Her annual, "battle of the klezmer bands" stretches the idea of what is klezmer further than many people want to see it go. (Personally, I love it and don't miss a year unless I wait to long to get tickets and she sells out, yet again.) With Third Ear, though, sometimes the fusion feels a bit forced (as on the otherwise very fun "Kolamenka Excursion" played on the right night). Sometimes the transposition is hard to fathom (the opening "Nenovsko Gruncharsco", a Bulgarian folkdance with strong marimba--shades of Kleveland Klezmorim!) and the oddness takes too long to bridge before the song is over.
Compass Records, 1995
117 30th Ave., South
Nashville, TN 37212
(800) 757-2277 / fax: (615) 320-7378
I think that's the problem with this album. There is a lot of neat stuff, and it's an album I listen to frequently, but it's not an album I can get comfortable with when I'm listening hard. Unlike other "world folk" bands that simply assimilate a lot of world styles and then play them all as you would expect, say, a renegade Balkan, or Polka, or Irish band to handle them, Kaila is feeling her way towards something new, and I don't think this album is quite there, yet. The sum isn't quite the total of all the parts, yet. But the parts, themselves, are so often so good, as on "Novo Cetvorno/Tune of Choice", that delightful moment in "Vienna Samba" when the marimba, othertimes just in the way, finally steps out, or the exquisite closing sephardic "Lisa's Lullaby" (featuring Judy Frankel on the album's sole vocal excursion) that it's worth listening just to imagine how good, and what this might be when the stew is finished simmering.
Ari Avram says, "So what if it isn't perfect. Run out and get a copy.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow 11/23/95
Personnel, this recording
Kaila Flexer: violin
Julian Smedley: violin, octave violin
Cecelia Browne: double bass
Joel Davel: marimba and percussion
- Nenovsko Gruncharsco (Bulgarian folk dance) 2:51
- Yossel (K. Flexer) 3:59
- Kolamenka Excursion (traditional klezmer) 5:37
- Bride's Knot/Clothes Crisis (K. Flexer and Mike Marshall/K. Flexer) 5:35
- Joe and Rose Waltz (K. Flexer) 4:22
- Gator Love (K. Flexer) 4:37
- Novo Cetvorno/Tune of Choice (Bulgarian folk dance/K. Flexer) 4:41
- Lucid Dreaming (K. Flexer) 5:27
- Vienna Samba (for Lara) (J. Smedley) 5:32
- Full Moon Tango (K. Flexer) 4:15
- Lisa's Lullaby (K. Flexer) 4:12