Koby Israelite / Blues from elsewhere

lonesome blues guitar tree w/punked out type. sweet!

Koby Israelite / Blues from elsewhere
Asphalt Tango Records, 2013

CDs, LPs, MP3s available via Asphalt Tango Records.

Since he first deconstructed Jewish music in his early recordings on Tzadik many years ago, I have regarded Koby Israelite with awe. On this recording, he tackles Americana with a flourish. From the opening twangy lilt of "Johnny has no cash no more," I fell in love. The second song, "Why don't you take my brain and sell it to the night?" seems like such a perfect country song, enhanced by Annique's vocals. The delightful country picking on "Crayfish hora" speak to the same tradition, but for the occasional interleaved bit of Jewish wedding music. But, then you are reminded that Israelite isn't an Americana artist, as on "Blues from elsewhere (suite part 1)," he wanders back around the world, eschewing anything recognizable to American blues.

That's the Koby Israelite style: Absorb music of the world and mash it up into familiar-sounding, but utterly unique bits of new melody. You want "typical" Koby Israelite? To me, it would be the jaunty "Bulgarian Boogie," with its great balkan sound interspersed with twanging guitar. "Rural ghost" adds Dick Dale twang and handclaps. "Two colonels" actually reminds me of Balkan Beat Box—or taps into the same musical traditions. Even the heavy-metalish guitars interwoven with the cascading trills of his accordion on "Accordion is the new guitar" speak to compare, contrast, synthesize. This is music for the people who regard the rich panoply of musics in the world as an amazing palette with which to construct newer traditional music. Even when he gets back to specifics, as on the brilliantly rendered "Subterranean homesick blues," he finds new ways of looking at the familiar so that our ears he-hear. It's the best cover of the song I have heard in years. And then, he breaks your heart with Mor Karbasi's singing on "Lemi evke," an Israelite-Karbasi composed, Eastern-inflected Israeli pop at its most anguished.

The recording ends with a Bonzo Dog Band-ish "Just cliches"—a tribute to Monty Python's Neil Innes, perhaps. And then a smoothly deconstructed old Led Zepellin "bonus," "Kashmir." When all is said and done, you'll rip my Kobi Israelite recordings off my cold dead devices and not before. I haven't had this much fun with the blues idiom and the new places it can lead since Elliot Sharp's "Blues for Next".

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 18 October 2014.

Personnel this recording:
Koby Israelite: Accordion, Drums, Percussion, Guitars, Electric Bass, Banjo, Mandolin, Bouzouki, Clarinet, Soprano & Sopranino sax, Piano, Keyboards, Flute, Vocals

special guests:
Yaron Stavi: Electric and Acoustic Bass (except 7, 10, 16)
Annique Vocals (2, 7)
Mor Karbasi Vocals (12)
Tigran Aleksanyan Duduk, Clarinet (12, 16)
Ofir Gal Electric Guitar (12)
John Telfer Tenor Sax (15)
Bamba Vocals (15)

Song Titles

  1. Johnny has no cash no more (Koby Israelite) 1:48
  2. Why don't you take my brain and sell it to the night? (music: Koby Israelite; words: Annique) 2:16
  3. Blues from elsewhere (suite part 1) (Koby Israelite) 3:50
  4. Accordion is the new guitar (suite part 2) (Koby Israelite) 2:42
  5. The dreams thief (suite part 3) (Koby Israelite) 3:35
  6. Crayfish Hora (suite part 4) (Koby Israelite) 3:02
  7. Subterranean Homesick Blues (Bob Dylan) 3:07
  8. East of Nashville (Koby Israelite) 3:08
  9. Bulgarian Boogie (Koby Israelite) 4:10
  10. Rural Ghost (Koby Israelite) 2:18
  11. My way the right way (Koby Israelite) 4:08
  12. Lemi Evke—to whom shall I weep (Koby Israelite, Mor Karbasi) 4:51
  13. Peckham Rai (Koby Israelite) 3:20
  14. Two Colonels (Koby Israelite) 4:16
  15. Just Cliches (Koby Israelite) 2:39
  16. Kashmir (Bonus track) (John Bonham, James Patrick Page, Robert Plant) 5:22

to top of page To top of page

the KlezmerShack Ari's home page
to About the Jewish-music mailing list
to The Klezmer Shack main page
to Ari Davidow's home page