Klingon Klezmer / Blue Suede Jews
Blue Suede Jews
Available from www.cdbaby.com
On the Klingon's first CD they claimed to play klezmer that kids enjoy. On this CD, they show what klezmer sounds like if you've been through the Sixties and the counterculture and have a slightly expanded take on music and fun. From the opening "Return of the Alien Bar Mitzvah Tutor," this CD is all about fun and interesting music. Think of this CD as the antithesis of the increasingly sterile Neo Bar Mitzvah sterility coming out of so many suburban-based bands.
This is also the first jam-band style klezmer recording that makes me think that it would be worth catching the band live and dancing along. I freely admit that klezmer-inspired wailing guitars (e.g., "A Hot Date in Zero Gravity", along with the requisite special effects, is high on my list of tracks I'd like to have on the changer on the rainy afternoon. If these guys had played my wedding, I might even have been tempted to let them twist "Fiddler on the Roof" as they do on "End of the Universe part 2." I am further reminded of the exotic titles attached to many traditional tunes when musicians such as Naftule Brandwein had to come up with names for their recordings. This band makes that tradition their own.
The thing is, this isn't chaos. These guys are very, very good. Stan SLotter's salsa-flavored horn arrangement for "The Odessa-Havana Trolley" is as tight as you could ask for. "Escalator to Heaven" is a fascinating jazz rock improvisation on a traditional Sephardic tune. Cantor Jack Kessler's "Mojo Shabbos" is both a wonderful satiric take on "Romania Romania," and at the same time, a partial answer to fellow Philadelphia musical anarchist Benjamin Laden (I'm thinking about Benny and the Vilda Chayas doing "Shul Time"), all wrapped into a sort of progressive klezmer music suite that manages to quote some mighty fine rock and roll. You'll find yourself unable to dissociate "lkha dodi likrat kalah" and "ganja" (possible mondegreen alert) forever after.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4 June 2006.
Jack Kessler: music director, vocals, bass, composer-arranger
Bob Butryn: reeds
Stan Slotter: trumpet and flute
Josef Kessler: five-string electric violin
Dave "Dr. Funk" Posmontier: keyboard
Charly Salinger: clarinet
Jim Babb: middle-eastern percussion
Tom Cohen: drums
- Return of the Alien Bar Mitzvah Tutor (Stan Slotter) 2:15
- A Hot Date in Zero Gravity (melody from Ray Musiker) 4:52
- Mojo Shabbos (Jack Kessler) 8:15
- Heartsong (after "Sapozkeleh", trad. yiddish, arr. Stan Slotter) 4:58
- The Odessa-Havana Trolley (music: Jack Kessler; horn arr: Stan Slotter) 6:03
- Dira Gelt: Pay da Rent! (US/Yiddish immigrant song; arr. Jack Kessler) 3:37
- Escape from Reality (Jack Kessler) 3:09
- End of the Universe, part 2 (Klingon Klezmer) 4:37
- Tango of Ultimate Alienation (trad. Sephardi) 3:26
- When the Fat Klingon Sings (Dave Tarras) 6:59
- Escalator to Heaven (trad., Sephardi community of Jerusalem) 8:26