Shtreiml / Spicy Paprikash

Album cover: nice. You don't need fancy type to be nice Shtreiml
Spicy Paprikash
, 2003

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The first Shtreiml album wasn't a fluke. The band really does play a very contemporary, albeit entirely traditional-sounding klezmer with verve and skill and lots and lots of pleasure. The lead on several songs, starting with the opening title track is played on harmonica. When it sounds this danceable, to whom would it occur not to state that harmonica is a klezmer instrument? Once that premise is accepted, the lonesome prairie sound of a harmonica "Nign" seems also wonderful. Heh. Hold your horses. Wait until you hear Shloimke Beckerman's "Galitzianer Tantz" backed by the Bo Diddley riff (according to the album notes, via Blues Traveler). John Cipollina's guitar wouldn't be out of place there. Rosenblatt's harmonica serves quite well in the guitar's (Diddley's or Cippolina's) absence.

In addition to traditional klezmer dance fare, the band also resurrects some wonderful Yiddish pop tunes, such as "Halevai," here sung by Josh Dolgin with Susan Watts (an nth generation Philadelphia Klezmer, also of Frank London's Klezmer Brass AllStars, Mikveh, KlezMs, Fabulous Spielkehs) and Jason's mother, Abby Rosenblatt. Another classic is Mickey Katz's "Trombonic Waltz" featuring Rachel Lemisch on trombone, herself another nth generation Philadelphia klezmer. Lemisch's playing inspires not only the listener. Rosenblatt penned both a bulgar and hora, both featured here, for her. Tapping along to her playing as the sounds come out the CD player one muses, "as well he might."

The band's rendition of a "Gas-nign" from the Beregovski collection, featuring guest tsimbl by Nocolae Margineanu is delightful. Josh Dolgin's accordion (he is also "So-Called" of Hip-Hop Khasene fame) is splendid, as are Ariel Harrod's excellent jazz-inflected walking bass lines. The album closes with an infectious version of Alexander Olshanetzky's "Rumania", convincingly brimming with full Second Avenue verve (and di ganze Rosenblatt family!).

In short, as I said, an old-fashioned album, but played with an entirely contemporary feel. Rather than recreate music that was, Shtreiml play music that was, and write new music, as if it all is now. With the possible exception of Andy Statman's albums, I can't think of any other klezmer band mixing old and new like this, much less featuring so many of their own (in this case, Jason Rosenblatt's own) compositions. Then or now, it's great music. Given Rosenblatt's compositional skill, there is a lot more great music to come.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 4/5/04

Personnel this recording:
Jason Rosenblatt: harmonica, keyboards
Josh Dolgin: accordion, vocals
Thierry Arsenault: drums
Ariel Harrod: bass
Rachel Lemisch: trombone

Nicolae Margineanu: tsimbl (tracks 1, 5, 7, 8)
Abby "Mom" Rosenblatt: vocals (track3)
Avi Rosenblatt: clarinet (track 12)
Elie Rosenblatt: violin (track 12)
Andrew Skowronski: saxophone (track 6)
Madelien Verheij: violin (track 10)
Susan Watts: Vocals, trumpet (track 3)


  1. Uncle Tibor's spicy paprikash (Jason Rosenblatt) 1:58
  2. Rachel's bulgar (Jason Rosenblatt) 2:42
  3. Halevai (Halevy, arr. Shtreiml) 3:01
  4. Nign (trad., arr. Shtreiml) 3:17
  5. Gas-nign (trad., arr. Jason Rosenblatt) 4:04
  6. Sam shpielt (Sam Musiker) 3:02
  7. Rachel's hora (Jason Rosenblatt) 4:17
  8. Hora ca din caval (trad., arr. Shtreiml) 1:58
  9. Romanian sirba (trad., arr. Shtreiml) 1:51
  10. Trombonic tantz (Farber-Katz) 4:43
  11. Galitzianer tantz (Shloimke Beckerman, arr. Shtreiml) 6:34
  12. Rumania (Alexander Olshanetzky) 2:28

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