Red Hot Chachkas / Spice it up!

Pretty snazzy woodcut - spicy, indeed!Red Hot Chachkas / Spice it up!, 2007
available from the band's website,
www. redhot chachkas .com

This mature effort by the Northern California veterans Red Hot Chachkas is sheer pleasure. Starting off with two vigorous klezmer dance numbers, and then swinging into "Elena's Waltz," the band consistently displays a comfort, familiarity, and deep instrumental ability. This is just a fun, traditional American klezmer album to listen to. Subsequent tunes, traditional, such as "Sha!" or written in traditional style such as "Der rebbe in der arbes gorth" or the mournful processional, "Der cholem fun yid," are equally perfect. Tony Phillips on plucked strings is a standout, giving the sound a slight bluegrass tinge, a tinge that I find the whole band taking up on "Shofar", with a klezmer/western high lonesome sound. One of the standout tracks that reinforces how wonderfully everyone plays (and how tightly they play together) is Egger's "Little Gouda." From the moment bassist Breck Diebel introduces the song to the denouement five minutes later, the band showcases itself as one of Northern California's best klezmer bands--if not the best klezmer band in the area.

In keeping with being a local wedding band, but also a modern music band, the Chachkas aren't shy about adding very American repertoire, like clarinetist Barbara Speed's syncopated "Chosidl Diddle" or her "Stomp it up" where Rob Reich's accordion lends addition rhythmic excitement. Fiddler Julie Egger's "Suite Matthew," written in memory of bassist Matthew Sperry, lends some avant garde intensity to the CD. Egger's "Cholent" is a real stew, with music ranging from North Africa to Eastern Europe and points beyond. Later on the CD, the band's arrangement of the Turkish "Son Kuslar" melts my heart. Appropriately, the CD ends with a wonderful vamp, the "Rocky Hora."

This is just an extraordinary CD, from klezmer and beyond. From the ground up with the varied and solid percussion of Michael Arrow and Breck Diebel on bass, the band just shines. Listen to this and realize that the Red Hot Chachkas are burning up the airwaves. Time to listen in. I hate to mention the event, so early, but if you're thinking, "Hanukah," this may be the direction in which to start thinking. Sheesh, even the cover is beautiful.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 19 Oct 2007

Personnel this recording:
Julie Egger: violin, viola, electric violin
Barbara Speed: Bb clarinet, tenor & soprano saxophones, C & alto flutes
Tony Phillips: mandolin, octave mandolin, electric mandolin
Rob Reich: accordion, guitar
Breck Diebel: bass
Michael Arrow: drums, dumbek


  1. Kostakowsky's Sher No. 4 (trad., arr. Nat Kostakowsky) 3:43
  2. Isaac in Kolomej (trad., arr. Rob Reich) 2:53
  3. Elena's waltz (Breck Diebel) 2:13
  4. Chosidl diddle (Barbara Speed) 3:34
  5. Stomp it up (Barbara Speed) 2:39
  6. Suite Matthew (Julie Egger) 4:28
  7. Der rabbi in der arbes gortn (Tony Phillips) 2:31
  8. Tanz medley (trad., arr. Red Hot Chachkas) 6:34
  9. Sha! (trad., arr. Red Hot Chachkas) 3:41
  10. Little gouda (Julie Egger) 5:00
  11. Third glass of wine (Rob Reich) 2:45
  12. Der cholem fun yid (trad., arr. Rob Reich) 2:44
  13. Cholent (Julie Egger) 5:30
  14. Sholom (Julie Egger) 3:24
  15. Little rabbi (Tony Phillips) 3:08
  16. Son Kuslan (trad., arr. Tony Phillips) 3:31
  17. Shofar (Barbara Speed) 4:18
  18. Rocky hora (Tony Phillips) 9:25

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