The Free-Reed Review
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CD Review: The Klezmatics

David Licht - drums and percussion
Alicia Svigals - violin
Frank London - trumpet, alto horn, groggers, percussion, accordion
Lorin Sklamberg - lead vocals, accordion, piano
Matt Darriau - clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, kaval, flutes, groggers
Paul Morrissett - bass, tsimbl, jujara, nyenyere


Shprayz Ikh Mir - traditional/music, Teitelbaum; words S. Kahn
Kolomeyke - traditional
Moroccan Game - F. London
An Undoing World - music, A. Svigals; words, Tony Kushner
Mizmor Shir Lehanef (Reefer Song) - music, F. London; words, Michael Wex
Shvarts Un Nays (Black and White) - F. London/traditional
Lomir Heybn Dem Bekher - music, A. Svigals; words from poems of Schwartz and Reisen
Sirba Matey Matey - traditional
Mipney Ma - traditional
Beggars' Dance - F. London
Shnaps-Nign - L. Sklamberg
Interlude - traditional
Dybbuk Shers - A. Svigals
Fradde's Song - music, F. London, words T. Kushner
Der Shvartser Mi Adir (The Black Benediction) - P. Morrissett
Hinokh Yafo - music, L. Sklamberg; words, Song of Years
Mipney Ma - traditional
Eyn Mol - traditional/L. Sklamberg

total time: 53:22
released: 1997

Label: Xenophile CD 4050
Address: 43 Beaver Brook Road
Danbury, CT 06810
Phone: (203) 730-0333

For bookings and information on The Klezmatics contact:
Blitz, Inc.
151 1st Avenue, Suite 59
New York, NY, USA 10003
Phone: (212) 604-4456

Review by Bob Berta:

While listening to this CD and reading through the liner notes I felt a strange feeling of familiarity...not so much with the music but with what The Klezmatics are doing with it. While this is certainly not Argentine Tango music in the Astor Piazzolla tradition, I found a lot of similarities. Astor took the traditional Argentine Tango and assimilated many other music styles and turned these into a "new" Tango creation which recreated the Tango.

I find The Klezmatics are doing a very similar treatment and as a result Klezmer music is evolving into something wonderfully new, fresh and exciting. While many of these tunes are traditional I find the Klezmatics' arrangements to be exciting and for the most part very satisfactory, sort of a 'Fusion Klezmer.' The danger when branching into uncharted waters is losing the respect of traditionalists.

The Klezmatics are doing an excellent job of respecting their roots while pushing their music to new frontiers in the 21st century. And, judging from the popularity of this group they have an appreciative audience.

The liner notes by Tony Kushner were at first confusing. A story about the search for a Rabbi for the local Temple in Lake Charles, Louisiana seemed to not have anything to do with the music. But after carefully rereading the notes I came to realize that it was an encapsulation of, as Tony noted is written in Perestroika, "Azoy tut a Yid!"...."It's The Jewish Way!".

While reading the liner notes I was intrigued by the listing of several instruments such as groggers, kaval, bouzouki, tsimbl, jujara and nyenyere. This curiosity will lead me to learn more about these unique instruments.

I also really appreciated the inclusion in the liner notes of the complete English lyrics to each tune so I could understand and appreciate the beauty of them.

Accordion fans will find the accordion playing here to be a part of the overall musical mix so don't expect to hear any accordion solos or dazzling virtuoso displays.

Overall the recorded quality of this recording is very good. As one who does a lot of digital recording, I am often disappointed in the recorded quality of many CDs. Poor miking techniques, over-compressed or over-processed sound can detract from the sound. There are a few selections which give evidence of overuse of a delay or reverb unit but I find it didn't detract from the overall sound of the recording. I also appreciated the very fine overall musicianship and nice vocal quality.

I would recommend this album as a fine album to listen to. But this album requires more of the listener than just passive listening to fully enjoy it. Read the album liner notes and reread them. Whether or not you are of Jewish heritage, you will appreciate this musical shapshot and insight of one piece of the "Jewish experience" and come to understand the purpose of these tunes and lyrics.

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