KlezKanada Faculty Anthology 2006

Album cover: a rug with ITC American Typewriter. Not notable. KlezKanada Faculty Anthology 2006
KlezKanada Records, KKCD-01, 2006
Purchase from CDbaby.com

This first outing from KlezKanada records (there is an entire CD devoted to the recently-passed German Goldenshteyn, a"h, coming this winter, as well) contains tracks, three previously unreleased, from KlezKanada faculty members and their bands. Of course, any recording that opens with a "Moldovaner Freylekhss" featuring Goldenshteyn's lyrical clarinet, and then moves immediately to the hip hop deconstruction of So Called's "Ikh bin a border", and then onto the Shtreiml's (home of the klezmer harmonica) new oud-driven klezmer is going to be more than good. This is the documentation of what is new and amazing in traditional klezmer and its modern offshoots.

I will go on. I have praised Khupe lavishly in these pages, and have a still-unreviewed CD that will provide further opportunity for same. I can say the same about Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars, except that the particular song included here, "Who Knows One", from last year's "Carnival Conspiracy," features a chorus of women's voices that take the band's usual brass exuberance to an entirely new level—lyrics by Sara Mina Gordon—what could be better? Try the piano playing of Marilyn Lerner, a Canadian jazz/avant garde pianist over whose playing I have been kvelling since I saw her in a Winnipeg trio at Ashkenaz '97. These days she is also reinventing artsong with Adrienne Cooper (see below).

Okay, so then you throw in the tireless drumming of Elaine Hoffman-Watts (yes, that's daughter Susan on trumpet) playing American klezmer, Philadelphia style, with Kurt Bjorling and friends following with a quieter, more classical version of traditional klezmer, Chicago Klezmer Ensemble-style. Add the modern world music of Eric Stein's "Brave Old World" and a then-unreleased track from Alex Kontorovich's brand-new D-Minor, coupled with the timelessly traditional playing of Pete Rushefsky and Ellie Rosenblatt (like many works mentioned here, already reviewed on these pages) matched with David Krakauer's work ... you sense a pattern. I have to especially note, however, the title cut from the new Strauss/Warschauer album, "Rejoicing." Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer have created something that sounds traditional until you realize that they are actually bridging new Chasidic music with more traditional Eastern European yiddishkeit and klezmer—and playing with a passion and skill that may seem normal on this CD, but is entirely revolutionary and extraordinary when seen live, in concert. This is the cutting edge of Jewish music today.

Finally consider that the CD closes with the title track from the penultimate (so far) Brave Old World CD, "Bless the Fire", a track that brings tears of emotion to my eyes each time the opening chords strike, plus a just-released track from Susan Hoffman-Watts first solo album, a cut from Steven Greenman's neo-traditional "Stempenyu's Dream" and the incomparable Adrienne Cooper singing new artsong, a genre she hasn't recorded since her essential recordings 10 years ago with Joyce Rosenzweig. Here, with Marilyn Lerner, she redefines Yiddish artsong, again. (Have I already used that word, "incomparable"? This is to person to whom it really belongs).

It doesn't matter if you were (prior to the release of this CD) completely current on modern Jewish music, a complete neophyte, or, like most of us, somewhere in between. This is a great CD. Buy a few—at least one for yourself, and then copies for all of your friends and enemies. Your friends will like you more, and your enemies will become your friends.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 22 November 2006


  1. German Goldenshteyn / A Moldovaner Freylekhs (trad.; arr. G. Goldenshteyn & Michael Alpert) 2:10
  2. SoCalled / Ikh Bin a Border (R. Doctor; arr. J. Dolgin) 2:41
  3. Shtreiml / Howard's Sirbisch (I.J. Rosenblatt) 3:35
  4. Khupe / Remeynish (trad.; arr. C. Dawid & S. Moricke) 3:49
  5. Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars / Who knows one? (trad.; arr. F. London/lyrics: Sarah Mina Gordon) 5:54
  6. Marilyn Lerner / Rumshinsky's Bulgar (trad.; arr. M. Lerner) 3:08
  7. Elaine Hoffman-Watts / Shtetl Ias (trad.; arr. E. Hoffman-Watts & S. Hoffman-Watts) 3:01
  8. Chicago Klezmer Ensemble / Doyna and Sirba Populara (trad.; arr. Bjorling) 6:39
  9. Beyond the Pale / Reunion (E. Stein) 5:56
  10. Alex Korntorovich's Deep Minor / Tzitzit Tanz (A. Kontorovich) 5:24
  11. Strauss/Warschauer Duo / Rejoicing (trad.; arr. D. Strauss & J. Warschauer; add'l lyrics: J. Warschauer) 5:43
  12. Pete Rushefsky & Elie Rosenblatt / Hora & Freylekhs (trad.; arr. Rushefsky, Rosenblatt) 4:27
  13. David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness / Moscovitz and Loops of It (D. Krakauer, J. Dolgin) 5:08
  14. Brave Old World / Yankl Dudl (music: A. Bern; lyrics: I. Manger) 10:13
  15. Adrienne Cooper / In der finster (Z. Landau; arr. A. Cooper, M. Lerner) 3:11
  16. Steven Greenman / Odessa Freylekhs (S. Greenman) 2:34
  17. Susan Hoffman-Watts / Hoffman Mazeltov (music: Joseph Hoffman; lyrics: S. Hoffman-Watts) 4:07

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