Klezmer Juice / Actions speak louder than words

worth buying for the cover alone!

Klezmer Juice
Actions speak louder than words
, 2004

CD available from cdbaby.com

I really have problems with bands that (to my ears) overly emphasize the beat. I think of dancing as gliding, or moving in rhythm, not going "chunka chunka thumpa thumpa." On the other hand, this album really sparkles (and 20 million country music albums can't all be wrong about the rhythm thang.) I love Bulgach's clarinet playing, nor are the accordion or guitar shabby, neither.

The opening "Ot Azoi" swings, despite the thumpa thumpa. Bulgach swings lyrically into "Papirosen" and then rips into a freylach more smoothly than anyone I've heard since the Epstein Brothers moved to a higher venue. If not for the rhythm section, I'd be in heaven. It's only during changes when the rhythm section feels like it's playing with the band, not reading charts. And yet, even so, I wouldn't miss this for the world. This band is fun.

The mix is familiar: lots of klezmer, old Yiddish theatre and folk favorites like "Papirosn" or "Dona Dona" and "Tum Balalaika", with more modern Israeli dance and folk tunes ("Nigun Atik", Eli Eli). Even though the clarinet playing overwhelms, this isn't your Krakauer ego pyrotechnics. Rather, Bulgach really seems to get the songs and how to play for an audience. This is the warmest, friendliest, liquid clarinet playing I have heard in a long time. When the guitar takes the lead, as on the intro to "Oyfn Pripetshok", with the accordion picking up the next verse it is also clear that the rest of the band is equally facile.

I should also mention the rather fantastic cover, and remember to complain about a lack of song credits. Overall, this is a wonderful debut album, and one that I'll enjoy listening to for a long time. Highly recommended.

Personnel this recording:
Gustavo Bulgach: clarinet, tenor sax
Michael Barsimanto: drums, percussion
Marco Tulio: nylon string guitar
Oliver Steinberg: upright bass
Michael Bolger: accordion, mellophone, muted trumpet


  1. Ot Azoi 4:24
  2. Papirosen 3:30
  3. Freylach in D 2:50
  4. Waltz Medly: Shloimele, Malkele/Du zun vet arunter geyn/Margartikes/Tum Balalaika—Shloimele, Malkele/The Sun with set/Daisies/Tum Balalaika 5:23
  5. Zemer Atik 2:53
  6. Dona Dona 3:54
  7. Oyfn Propetshok—On the hearth 3:51
  8. Araber tanz 2:34
  9. Slow Melody #8 5:29
  10. Freylach #15 2:38
  11. Eli Eli 3:01
  12. Amud ha-esh—Pillar of fire 1:38

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