Jeff Warschauer / The Singing Waltz

Klezmer Guitar & Mandolin

Album cover: Somewhat treacly watercolor with dove and burning tree and icky type. For some reason, reminds me of the Incredible String Band's '5000 Spirits of the Layers of the Onion' Jeff Warschauer
The Singing Waltz

Omega OCD 3027, 1996

Omega Record Group, Inc.
27 W. 72nd St., New York, NY 10023

People have been noticing Jeff Warschauer's playing for years. As mandolinist and guitarist for the Klezmer Conservatory Band, he has created a repertoire and a joy for instruments that would otherwise never come to mind in a klezmer context. On his own, he has contributed to several compilations over the years. This album is his own compilation, a collection of recordings with some of the niftiest musicians on the (mostly) Boston klezmer scene, made between 1990 and 1996, finally available.

But from the opening "Elephant's Dance," complete with intricate mandolin and the perfect David Harris on trombone, to the classical-guitar-perfection of "Baym Rebn's Sude," to the concluding "Ot Azoy," Warschauer takes the listener on a gentle, often surprising, often even formal tour of klezmer, as seen from the perspective of his instruments. This album is what Andy Statman's and Dave Grisman's collaboration (Songs of our Fathers, 1995) could have been—an exploration of the range of familiar music that also manages to expand our sense of klezmer (say, "A Slow Hora for Those Who Wait for Freedom"—first heard on the Ottens/Rubin compilation, "Shteygers", followed by the entirely traditional "A Freylekhs fun der Khupe"), while always been comfortingly listenable and occasionally even danceable.

This is obviously not a traditional klezmer album. It fails my usual "klez-purity test." For the most part, instead of getting up and moving about the room, you will find yourself listening, rapt. But, my god, it is so wonderful. Even often-performed chestnuts such as the "Russian Sher" first recorded by I.J. Hochman's Jewish Orchestra in 1922 send shivers down my spine. It's also an album you can give anyone interested in Jewish music. It is thoughtful and quiet and deep enough that your usual klezmer-disdainer will be entranced, and still, often enough klezmer that klezmer fanatics, such as myself, will leave it on the CD changer for a long, long time.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 8/24/97

Personnel this recording:
Jeff Warschauer: guitar, mandolin
Kurt Bjorling: clarinet, bass clarinet
David Harris: trombone
Deborah Strauss: violin
James Guttmann: bass
Grant Smith: drums
Hankus Netsky: piano (tracks 1, 3, 15)
Evan Harlan: piano (track 14), accordion (tracks 1, 15)
Alan Bern: piano (track 8), accordion (track 9)


  1. Dem Helfand's Tants—The Elephant's Dance (Jeff Warschauer) 4:46
  2. Bayme Rebn's Sude—At the Rabbi's Festive Meal (trad.) 3:17
  3. Odessa Swing (Steve Netsky) 4:28
  4. A Yidishe Honga—A Jewish Honga (trad.) 1:44
  5. Sadegerer Khosid—Khosid from Sadeger (trad.) 2:44
  6. A Yidishe Neshome—A Jewish Soul (Kurt Bjorling) 5:48
  7. A Slow Hora for Those Who Wait for Freedom (Jeff Warschauer) 2:31
  8. A Freylekhs fun der Khupe—A Happy Dance from the Wedding Ceremony / Oriental Melodies (trad.) 3:38
  9. The Singing Waltz (Jeff Warschauer) 3:35
  10. Meron Tune (trad.) 2:42
  11. Russian Sher (trad.) 2:52
  12. Dem Trisker Rebn's Khosid—The Trisker Rabbi's Khosid (Dave Tarras) / Romanian Fantasy / A Heymish Freylekhs—A Homey Dance (trad.) 4:22
  13. Doyne/hora/Freylekhs (trad.) 3:07
  14. Tants Istambul—Istanbul Dance (Dave Tarras) 2:58
  15. Ot Azoy—That's the Way! (trad.) 3:40

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