Michael Winograd / Bessarabian Hop

See, it's not so hard to create an interesting, typographically competent cover!

Michael Winograd / Bessarabian Hop, 2008

Available on cdbaby.com

For about twenty years I have wondered about new klezmer tunes. Why not? Sure, many bands have some pastiche of common wedding tunes, to which they assign names such as "my new klezmer bulgars" or "jill's pretty fancy wedding waltz", but I don't think I've heard a new klezmer tune since Andy Statman's "Flatbush Waltz" (and possibly some Veretski Pass or Budowitz originals) that I then heard someone else covering. It may be that this was just waiting for the generation of klezmorim starting to record in recent years, kids who grew up listening to a plethora of American and world musics that, unlike my generation, includes klezmer.

Michael Winograd is the first to come to mind. From the opening chords of "The Beginning" to the Americana mandolin runs of his "Freylekh for Grew Stefani", to the New Orleans funk overtones of "Arrivals/Departures" this is a CD by someone who has grown up with klezmer and has written some exceptional new pieces to extend the genre. He is ably assisted by a few friends: That's Joey "Slow Jam" Weisenberg on the aforementioned mandolin. Dan Blacksberg is pushing the trombone in new ways that fit perfectly. New Orleans immigrant (also of Panorama Jazz Band Patrick Farrell is there to add some accordion, Creole-style. Tsimbalist about town Pete Rushefsky, bassist Nick Cudahy, and former Khevre drummer—now most often seen with the Klezmatics—Richie Barshay provide an incomparable rhythm section. And, throughout it all, Winograd wails mightily. This is fresh-sounding, thoroughly delightful new klezmer.

This is another "must review on the fourth of July weekend" CD, with Barshay's percussion opening the "Patriot Bulgars." Listen to Blacksberg on trombone here, along with Winograd and Farrell trading solos. Such a pleasure. The thing is, of course, that these all sound sufficiently traditional such that they could have come off old '78s. Indeed, the album's closing "Nayer Khusid Tanz" starts off, like many of these tunes, in very familiar territory. If you know your Eastern European Jewish dance, these tunes will fit right in to familiar steps. But, even in closing, Dan and Michael find new, if still familiar-sounding places to take the music.

I have just one question. What, other than tribute to the late German Goldenshteyn, is the "Bessarabian Hop?"

From the cover and packaging, through to the bonus track, this is one of the year's best traditional klezmer CDs. (I have been requested not to review the klezmer take on a recent pop hit that is offered up as bonus track. So, I didn't say nuthin,' and you'll have to get your own copy of the CD to find out about it.) It's also unusually inexpensive. I say, purchase a few and give them out to friends to let them know what "klezmer natives" sound like. That's what I've been doing, to great acclaim. Your turn.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6 July 2008.


Michael Winograd: clarinet
Joey Weisenberg: mandolin
Patrick Farrell: accordion
Pete Rushefsky: tsimbl
Daniel Blacksberg: trombone
Richie Barshay: percussion


  1. The Beginning 2:49
  2. Zhok in G minor 3:59
  3. Sher 199 (trad.) 2:57
  4. Freylekh for Gwen Stefani 2:34
  5. Morning Song 4:43
  6. Svatben Jok (trad.) 2:34
  7. Arrivals/Departures 4:37
  8. Patriot Bulgars 6:09
  9. Zhok in D Minor 3:43
  10. Nayer Khusid Tanz 2:02

All compositions by Michael Winograd except as noted.

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