!DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/xhtml1/DTD/xhtml1-transitional.dtd"> CD Review: Klezmer Conservatory Band / A Taste of Paradise

Klezmer Conservatory Band / A Taste of Paradise

lovely painting of an apple Klezmer Conservatory Band
A Taste of Paradise
Rounder 11661 3189-2, 2003

Rounder Records

I think of the Klezmer Conservatory Band as comfort music. There is no such thing as an unsatisfying performance or album. One should always keep at least one CD in the car for listening to when one needs something solid to pass the commute or a trip. A new album, therefore, is a welcome event, and indeed, this new album is "A Taste of Paradise".

The band opens with its patented big band joyous sound on "Sarba Miracinae", and closes with "Nakhes Bulgar,". Judy Bresler proves that her voice only improves with age as she sings a very welcome "Sholem Tants". Later, on "A Fishele" she reminds that she can still sing the sad, quiet a capella songs, as well. Band directory Hankus Netsky also steps out on this album, with an exquisite, jazzy piano solo on "Oyfn Oyvn."

Among the high points of the album, for me, are the Jeff Warschauer tunes, in particular, "A Glezele Yash," relatively new Yiddish music based on a poem by Yoysef Kerler. Unlike most Yiddish drinking songs, this one is neither cheerful shmaltz, nor shmaltzy melancholy. Warschauer's singing gets into the despair of drunkenness, Jewish style: "When I take a little drink of wine, / I am not myself. / I toss aside the empty bottle, / and I dance a sher." The song is here dressed up from the more stark Strauss-Warschauer duo presentation, but it still stings.

This album also features a lot of big band jazz arrangements of Yiddish favorites: Art Bailey's "Khaye Sho," Cannonball Adderly's arrangement of "Sabbath Prayer" from Fiddler on the Roof, for example. It is great fun to hear Jewish music filtered through general pop culture, and then back again, played in those arrangements by a Jewish music band.

As always, this is an excellent album of Jewish music. At the same time, I don't feel that it has the same intensity as the two previous albums: Dancing the aisles (1997) and Dance me to the end of love (2000). Whether this is simply a quieter album (for the Klezmer Conservatory Band), or it was simply impossible to sustain highs as great as those two albums represented, I can't say. For people new to the band's sound, I would recommend those two. For the rest of us, of course, this is still magnificent, and an essential addition to every klezmer or Jewish music collection.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 11/30/03

Personnel this recording:
Hankus Netsky: Director
Judy Bressler: vocals
Ilene Stahl: clarinet
Deborah Strauss: violin, background vocals
Robin Miller: flute, piccolo
Mark Berney: cornet, trumpet
Mark Hamilton: trombone
Hankus Netskey: alto saxophone, accordion, piano
Art Bailey: piano, accordion
Jeff Warschauer: mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo, vocals
James Guttman: bass
Grant Smitch: drums, percussion


  1. Sarba Miracinae--the burdock sirba (Joseph Moscowitz; arr. Netsky & KCB) 1:49
  2. Sholem Tants--dance of peace (Abe Ellstein; arr. Netsky & KCB) 3:02
  3. A Glezele Yahs/Di Kleyne Printsesn--A glass of wine/the little princess (music: V. Sharinsky, lyrics: Yoysef Kerler, arr. Warschauer/Naftule Brandwein, arr. Warschauer) 4:47
  4. Dovidl bazetst di kale/khusidl--Dave seats the bride/hasidic dance (music: Dave Tarras, arr. Ilene Stahl, Hankus Netsky, & KCB) 4:38
  5. Mayn ershte vals--my first waltz (music: trad., lyrics: Chaim Towber; arr. Netsky & KCB) 4:45
  6. O Mortis--the tough guy (trad.; arr. Netsky & KCB) 2:20
  7. A Fishele (trad.) 4:47
  8. Oyfn Oyvn--at the hearth (trad.; arr. Netsky) 5:18
  9. Tayere Malkele--dear malkele (music: trad.; lyrics: Nokhem Sternheim; arr. Netsky) 3:20
  10. Khaye Sho--seize the moment (Chaim Towber; arr. Art Bailey) 2:35
  11. Bessarabian Breakdown (trad.; arr. Jim Guttman, Hankus Netsky, KCB) 4:10
  12. Rejoicing (trad.; add'tl lyrics: Warschauer; arr. Strauss, Warschauer) 5:41
  13. Tif vi di nakht--deep as the night (Abe Ellstein & Eva Franklin; arr. Art Bailey) 4:39
  14. Dem Zeydns Tants/Tants Istanbul--Grandfather's dance/Dance from Istanbul (trad. Greek/trad.; arr. Ilene Stahl) 4:31
  15. Sabbath Prayer (lyrics: Sheldon Harnick; music: Jerry Bock; arr. Cannonball Adderly) 3:17
  16. Az der rebe elimeylekh (Moshe Nadir; arr. Judy Bresler, Art Bailey, Hankus Netsky) 3:02
  17. Nakhes Bulgar (trad.; arr. Netskey & KCB) 3:33

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