Owen Davidson, accordion
Lynn Lovell, bass
Sherry Mayrent, clarinet
Freylekhs ouf eyn fus
Azoy geyt es
Finster un glitshik
Der bobes hent
Erev yom tov
total time: 57:57
CD No: OYF003
contact: Sherry Mayrent,
751 Washington St.
Brookline, MA 02146 (617)738-5680
Review by: Robert Berta
The three musicians on this CD are from the larger Wholesale Klezmer Band. All compositions heard here are by Sherry Mayrent who proves to be not only a fine composer but also an excellent clarinetist. Sherry can elicit an amazing variety of emotions from her clarinet in true Klezmer style.
The playing in this CD is heavily modeled on traditional Ashkenazic prayer style. There is a strong melodic voice leading the group with other voices echoing, anticipating, murmuring and commenting, rising and falling with each individual's involvement in the flow of the sound. It ranges from a dense style, at times strongly in unison, while at other times is almost argumentative. But whether everything is closely tied together each person's prayers are anchored in the chanted words.
The music here intentionally differs from traditional Klezmer in that it involves participation of the accordion and bass as fully melodic voices; sort of a conversation as in chamber music. The minimalist approach of only three instruments works to this end but unfortunately also highlights weaker performances by individuals. Perhaps Sherry is such a dynamite clarinetist that she overpowers the other musicians, but in any case the overall sound is quite satisfactory even though the other musicians don't quite rise to her level of musicianship. Part of the problem is that the CD becomes mostly a showcase for the clarinet while I would have liked the other instruments to have their moment in the spotlight. About the only chance for the other instrumentalists to strut their stuff were in the selections "Ver Neys?" and "Vals," both of which tended to also highlight the strong differences in musical ability.
The mix of original tunes here is very nifty; there is some sprightly toe tapping, balanced nicely by some slower, more emotional numbers. Highlights on this CD, for me, include the title piece, "Hineni" and "Hayntike yidn" although I didn't find a selection that I disliked. In some cases I felt that the development of the overall theme was a touch too drawn out but overall I enjoyed the CD.
One side note -- the artist who did the CD cover was outstanding! The cover drawing of the three artists was really well executed, and the layout of the information contained in the CD liner notes was well designed and complete.
What is my overall impression of this CD? I think it is quite satisfying and a special kudos to Sherry for the excellent compositions. However, when I received this CD for review, I also received another CD of the entire Wholesale Klezmer Band. After listening to both, it became obvious there were advantages to having a larger band. The increased number of performers provides a much bigger sound that tends to blend the various talents of the musicians into a more homogenous mix while not highlighting differences in ability as much. I recommend this CD but also recommend that you obtain the Wholesale Klezmer Band's other CD, Yidn Fun Amol (Jews of Long Ago) which I will also soon review.
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