Klezmer Music: A Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Album cover: nice monochrome young fiddler.

Klezmer Music
A Marriage of Heaven and Earth

Ellipsis Arts
CD4090, 1996

This is such a handsome compilation of klezmer music that the packaging, alone, would be worth the good review. The CD comes with a lavishly illustrated booklet, with articles by Michael Alpert and Frank London, an interview with Andy Statman ... you get the idea! Such a pleasure! Curiously, despite such copious documentation, none of the songs have authorship credits and times are noted only on the surface of the CD.

The "mandate" of the collection isn't just to present klezmer, but to present klezmer around the theme of wedding music. This restrains the directions in which the music could go, but any album that starts off with Klezmatics fiddler Alicia Svigals doing her "Gasn Nign," moves on to the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble (Kurt Bjorling's band when he isn't touring with Brave Old World--who also close out this album) and then presents a village tune by Budapest's Di Naye Kapelye isn't pulling any punches. ("Plate o' shrimp" coincidence. You can see Eve Monzingo playing tsimbl in the picture of the CKE, and then holding a clarinet in the facing picture for DNK, with whom she played wonderfully in the summer of 1996.

Unlike the recent Itzhak Perlman collections in which a brilliant violinist sounds klez-ish while playing with some popular and well-known klezmer bands, this is a collection of well-known and less-well-known bands, all excellent, and frequently stepping out a bit (Ray Musiker with the Klezmatics, then the Klezmatics with Ray Musiker, or the wonderful Strauss-Warschauer duet). The pleasure of hearing European bands such as the aforementioned Di Naye Kapelye, along with the wonderful Budowitz (this is my chance to correct the CD liner notes and credit Lothar Laesser for his accordion playing, and Walter Pogantsch on cello) plus new (to me) bands such as La'om is an added bonus. The fact that Andy Statman, Toronto's Flying Bulgars, and my new homies Naftule's Dream (née "Shirim") also appear, merely clinches the deal.

If Chanuka hadn't just ended, I'd suggest this as a perfect Chanuka gift. But then, gift-giving isn't really a part of Chanuka. So, instead, make it a solstice gift to someone who cares about fine klez--or just wants to sample it a bit and discover a very wonderful facet of the music.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 12/19/96. Liner note corx 1/14/97 and 3/15/97.

  1. Alicia Svigals "Gasn nign" 3:00
  2. The Chicago Klezmer Ensemble "Mazltov" 4:20
  3. Di Naye Kapelye "Honga and Freylekhs from Podoloy" 3:19
  4. La'om "A glezele vayn" 4:30
  5. Andy Statman "Badekns nign" 2:50
  6. Budowitz "Behusher khusid" 3:40
  7. Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer "Wedding Suite" 6:45
  8. Ray Musiker and the Klezmatics "Nokh an anderer alter bulgar" 3:40
  9. The Klezmatics with Ray Musiker "The in-laws" 3:45
  10. Andy Statman "Dveykus nign" 5:30
  11. The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band "Patsh tants" 3:27
  12. Naftule's Dream "The Black Wedding" 7:10
  13. Brave Old World "Rufn di kinder aheym" 6:28

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