Greetings from ... The Isle of Klezbos

excellent faux postcard

Greetings from ... The Isle of Klezbos
Rhythm Media Records, RMR 004, 2003

E-mail: Isle of Klezbos

Isle of Klezbos is the all-women klezmer band headed by Eve Sicular. Like Eve's other band, Metropolitan Klezmer, the band plays excellent, tight, exciting klezmer with several Yiddish theatre standards mixed in. On this recording, the band shows how much it has come together since I saw them just a few years ago. This is further exemplified by the several live tracks scattered in the album, including the very notable "Szól a Kakas Már" which features both Debra Kreisberg's alto sax and Pam Fleming's wonderful trumpet (as well as some trombone?).

This album is quieter than those of the band's more boisterous sibling, but no less intricate or satisfying. I especially like the way the band has taken standards, such as Moskowitz' "Chasen "senem" and rearranged them, in this case, to the delightful "Revery in Hijaz" which features Kreisberg's clarinet, held together by Catherine Popper's impressive bass and Eve Sicular's very tasteful drumming. The "Revery" is so good that a live version is reprised later on the album featuring Fleming's trumpet. Indeed, the whole band is excellent and plays with a tightness that gives one a feel for how traditional klezmer sounded outside the recording studio, when it was played in the early part of the last century here in America as Jews joined the influx of immigrants to the promised land and a new Jewish culture was busy being born. There are also some new klezmer tunes written by members of the band, including Kreisberg's stately "Abrah" and Sicular's "East Hapsburg Waltz" which features the delightful accordion of Rachelle Garniez.

Special mention has to be made of Deborah Karpel's vocals. Although singing in Yiddish seemed to be new to her a few years ago, at this point she owns the language. Here she covers the range from Olshanetsky's sad "Unter Beymer" to an entirely alive (and recorded live) version of Abi Gezunt in the album's closing medley.

I hate to review some albums. It means putting them away. But I have already done a disservice by lingering so long over this album. One last credit has to also go to the Yiddish typesetting of Yankl Salant. It is rare that this is done well and with grace, but, like the rest of the album, so too the typography. As a typographer, myself, this gives me great pleasure. For those of you who aren't typographer's, you'll have to let the music, itself speak. That should be graceful enough!

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 9 Jan 2005

Personnel this recording:
Pam Fleming: trumpet & flugelhorn
Rachelle Garniez: accordion & harmony vocal
Deborah Karpel: vocals
Debra Kreisberg: clarinet & alto sax
Catherine Popper: bass
Eve Sicular: drums


  1. Houdini Hora (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 2:50
  2. Goldene Khasene—Golden Wedding (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 2:56
  3. Revery in Hijaz (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 4:29
  4. Klezbos Kolomeyke (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 3:55
  5. Rachelle's Doyna Indigo (arr. Rachelle Garniez & Isle of Klezbos; Yosl, Yosl: Nellie Casman) 1:51
  6. Klezmerengue (medley w/5) 1:18
  7. Abrah (Debra Kreisberg) 5:26
  8. Unter Beymer—Beneath the trees (music: Alexander Olshanetsky; lyrics: Moyshe Oysher; arr. Isle of Klezbos) 2:45
  9. East Hapsburg Waltz (Eve Sicular; arr. Isle of Klezbos) 3:17
  10. Szól a Kakas Már—The Rooster Crows [live] (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 4:10
  11. Revery Reprise [live] (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 3:24
  12. Father's Cadenzas (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 3:37
  13. My Father's Nigun (trad., arr. Isle of Klezbos) 1:19
  14. Doyna/An Alter Nigun/Abi Gezunt [live] (Rachelle Garniez/trad., arr. Eve Sicular & Isle of Klezbos/lyrics: Molly Picon; music: Abraham Ellstein; arr. Isle of Klezbos) 4:10

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