Golden Horn Records, GHP 020-2, 2004
When I announced this album on the main klezmershack weblog I said it better than I can now, but now I love the album more - I've been listening to it for a solid month and it's still special
A few years ago I was wandering in Eastern Europe and found myself befriended by Josh Horowitz (of Budowitz, etc.). We hit it off and became instant good friends. He was about to release the initial Budowitz CD (Budowitz / Mother Tongue, 1997), and I, being the type of nerd that I am, happened to be traveling with my laptop, a few hundred of my favorite fonts, and my copy of Quark XPress. So, while he played some amazing tsimbl one evening, I roughed out better liner notes for the Budowitz CD for him to show the record company how it could all fit in limited space with (what I thought was) grace. To my horror, the half-finished version I prepared that evening was what the record company eventually used.
A few years later, Josh mentions that he, and another old friend, Stu Brotman (Brave Old World, et al), plus violin maven Cookie Segelstein (Klezical Tradition and more) were releasing a new album, and if I was interested. This time, the record company was listening....
Is klezmer dance music? Do fish swim in the water? I had enormous fun typesetting the new liner notes, and while they are not perfect, the music will blow your socks off. Working with the trio, and with Ates, the person running Golden Horn records (also a great source of Balkan Music) was a gas.
This is Eastern European Jewish music, mostly dance music. Sometimes there are hints of chamber music, as comes when three impeccable musicians play together as one. But, mostly this is the most rocking, roots klezmer album I have heard in years. Forget the liner notes, the music is incredibly, almost indescribably good.
Cookie describes the background of the CD thus:
"Much of the music on this recording comes from and near the region of the Veretski Pass (after which the group is named) in the Zakarpatska Oblast (Transcarpathian region) of what is now Ukraine, the main crossroads through which the Jews traversed the Carpathian Bow. There is a stunning suite of Crimean Tatar music and also a rare Karaite song, followed by improvisations and a pyrotechnic fiddle song performed on a scordatura violin. There are also original compositions, a suite with a bass and viola duet, traditional Jewish and Ukrainian dance tunes all accompanied by rich photographs and finely wrought essays (and even some family recipes) by each member of the trio.
"The book, 'The Music of Veretski Pass,' is the music of the record transcribed by Cookie with a forward by Josh. It is available for $20 plus $2.50 (in the US) shipping You can contact us through our website (www.veretskipass.com), click on BOOK, to find out how to purchase ( where to send the check or money order)."
Here's a couple of facts. First, Josh and Stu are two of the world's finest tsimbl players. And there are few instruments as good to listen to as the tsimbl. Second, Cookie is incendiary. I'm sure I said nice things about her playing on various albums over the years, because she is pretty incredible, but that was nothing. She tears the place up. Even better, where many klezmer musicians fall back on bluegrass when they are improvising klezmer and heading into the breaks, because that's what they know best when they need more ideas, Cookie improvises something that sounds like, well, living, breathing, must-dance-to klezmer. Also note that these aren't just tunes, they're medleys of tunes in dance sets, including a sher set that is taking the Eastern European Jewish dance world (granted, not the largest subset of humanity) by storm. It just doesn't get any better than this, at least, not until their next album.
The CD is available now from the Golden Horn online shop. (Golden Horn has also also added two recordings of Jewish music from Turkey which were recently reviewed here: Maftirim (Judeo-Sufi Connection) and Yahudice (Urban Ladino Music). Ates, the mensh who runs Golden Horn notes that import titles are usually in stock - he orders them as they sell.
Order a Veretski Pass CD right NOW.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 5/1/04
Re: Veretski Pass CD and book available
This was original posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list, April 10, 2004.
Can you stand one more meee tooooo posting?
Both the CDs and the book arrived today. Wasn't sure about buying the book because I'm not a great reader, but I actually sight sang the Vinnitser Sher. I am currently totally madly head over heels in love with shers, having spent a lot of time lately learning the 20 Phila Shers with Jeff and the Tuesday night gang (open house in NYC is Apr 20, I believe). These were new shers to me.
We not only have new old tunes, and new new tunes, we have lead sheets for them. I suspect a few of these will be good old tunes before long.
As the sun set, I popped in the CD as I startd cooking for the next week. The leftover bison brisket and turkey breast - geting dry - went into a fresh vegetable stew to moisten them and get another few days out of them.
And the CD starts up and - Beauty, beauty, beauty. I can't possibly do a formal review. All I can really say is THANKS to Versetski Pass and THANKS to Cookie Segelstein for the transcriptions. A rich world of music just got richer. And not all in equal temperament, thanks be to the Almighty and these musicians.
By the way - and I'd expect nothing less from any project Josh Horowitz was involved with - the pamplet they stuff into that CD case is a worthy work in its own right (cf Chasuna On A Kalla). Segelsteins stories of her dad are a good read all by themself; even tho they are meant to show us "Muncach Comes To America". I do some sewing, but I'm not that good at it, I do need some adjustments done and wish I could walk down the street to Mr Segelstein and have him do them. We have a couple nice tailors in my town that do serviceable work...whose children, I think, may have thier own Korean and Chinese immigrant stories in 40 years. And the recipes are worth the price by themselves. Actually, the Chicken Soup recipe is close to my own. But I never had a clue on Chicken Paprikash (the family I'm adopted into is more Russian-area) and look forward to trying it Cookie's way.
As for Josh's story - it strikes me like a lot of his stories and like the movie Secondhand Lions. Probably some truth in there - but what happens in the telling? Thankfully, no cowpies in this one.
Personal to George Robinson - "Old World Klezmer is dead?" Ixnay, I say. Mercifully, the jive self mocking "jewish jazz" from America may be on its way out (not that you can tell it from a packed Klezmatics show) but the "Old World Klezmer" is still just waking up - thanks to people like Cookie, Josh and Stuart.
and a good moed to all...
roger reid, in awe
Personnel this recording:
Cookie Segelstein: violin, viola
Joshua Horowitz: button accordion, tsimbl
Stuart Brotman: bass, basy, baraban
- Tyachiver Sirba (Ukrainian-Jewish, arr. Segelstein) 2:11
- Sólyom Pál (Romanian-Hungarian) 2:25
- Araynfir--Introduction (Segelstein) 0:24
- Kroilid--Karaite Song 1:44
- Fir Strunes Forshpil--Four String Prelude (Segelstein) 0:45
- Fir Strunes--Four Strings (arr. Segelstein) 1:45
- Horowitz Geveyn--Horowitz's Lament (Horowitz) 3:01
- Hershfelds Bulgar (Jewish) 2:01
- Segelsteins Geveyn--Segelstein's Lament (Tatar, arr. Segelstein) 3:03
- Lid fun dem Shvartsen Yam--Black Sea Song 1:36
- Tatarisher Longa 1:56
- Papir is Dokh Vays--Paper is white (Jewish) 2:05
- Libus Nign--Libu's Melody (Jewish) 0:48
- Berols Rikudl--Berol's Dance (Jewish) 0:44
- Vereskier Raca (Segelstein/Carpathian Ukraine) 1:07
- Vinnitser Sher (Jewish-Ukrainian) 4:42
- Ikh Lig Hinter Grates--I lie behind bars (Jewish) 1:35
- Horowitz Forshpil--Horowitz's Prelude (Horowitz) 2:22
- Yosls Terkisher (Moskowitz/Jewish) 2:42
- Makonovetskiis Skotshne (Jewish) 1:52
- Hutzulska Pisnia--Hutzulska Song (Segelstein) 0:16
- Veretskier Kolomeyke (Ukrainian, arr. Segelstein) 2:40
- Pizni Vesilni Zvuky--Bullets at the wedding (Ukrainian, arr. Segelstein) 2:43
- Tyachiver 7:40 (Ukrainian-Jewish) 2:14
- Dovha Doroha--the long road (Ukrainian) 0:25
- Zakarpatska Kozachok--Transcarpathian Cossack dance (Ukrainian, arr. Segelstein) 2:22
- Hora Midor (Jewish) 2:32
- Tiraspoler Bulgar (Jewish) 1:17
- Fanfara Suceava (Romanian) 1:19
- Stanislaver Bulgar (Jewish) 2:13
All selections traditional, arranged: Segelstein, Brotman, Horowitz, unless otherwise noted.