Friday, July 20, 2007

Klezmer Idol

You just have time to listen to (and, if you feel so inclined, vote for your favourite among) ten current UK klezmer bands at the JC website.

Beskydy make heartfelt traditional Klezmer. More impressive than the tracks on the JC website are their rendering of Israeli wedding classic Erev Shel Shoshamin (a fragment of which can be listened to here) and Zapevvala Sojka Ptica (here). Their music has an old-timey feel, dominated by the weeping, slightly scratchy violin. Shir are also quite old-style, and they also do Israeli folk music. You can listen to more of their music on their website.

The Solomon Sisters' Yiddish caberet shtick doesn't appeal to me, kind of kitschy Jewish version of the Puppini Sisters. Again, their own website has (samples of) better tracks, including Chornia [mp3], which has a kind of mitteleuropa cafe vibe, Odessa [mp3], which is quite soulful and instrumental.

Klezmer KollectiV are described on the JC page and the band's MySpace page as borrowing heavily from the “hotclub” jazz style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, but that's not in evidence from the tracks available there, which are pretty straightahead klezmer. I prefer Matzos, whose music has a certain intensity about it. You can hear more of them on their MySpace site.

Also very good are Moishe's Bagel, whose album Salt looks worth buying. Tantz Glassidic [mp3] is a clever Phillip Glass pastiche. You can also download Sidi-kasem, la Bonhomie [mp3] from their website. Overall, their sound mixes Jewish music with chamber music, Modern Jazz Quartet, and a little bit Latin.

K-Groove are enjoyable, fusing Jewish music with other traditions. Reggae Freilach [mp3] starts out (I think) as a doina, moving into a slow and sultry reggae groove and then picks up tempo. The reggae sounds slightly contrived and casio keyboardish to me, especially as it gets faster. Smoked Salmon Salsa [mp3] works far better as a synthesis and is probably my favourite track.

Kosmos play more much more soulful klezmer. Their Devotedly Bouyant [mp3] is one of the standouts of the collection, as is their take on Astor Piazzola's Libertango (you can hear Richard Galliano's French cafe version here). Klezmer Gourmet (AKA Shna’im Lecha’im) are also in this league. I think I'd vote for one of those two bands.


Previous: Feed Your Ears (with Jewish and non-Jewish music), Jewish music/world music

9 comments:

Jim Denham said...

I don't know a lot about klezmer, but it seems to be fun. Wasn't Spike Jones's clarinetist, Micky Katz, the "King of Klezma'? And Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw incorporated klezmer into their jazz playing?

bob said...

Yes, Goodman and Shaw were very klezmer influenced. Mickey Katz- a whole subject in himself! King of lots of things.

Jim Denham said...

Bob: do you know stuff about Micky (Mickey?)Katz that I don't? Please tell. I am intrigued.

bob said...

I'm not an expert on Mickey Katz (with an e) but I know he has been called King of the Catskills, King of the Borscht Belt, and various other things. There's a few websites devoted to him (e.g. http://www.spaceagepop.com/katzmick.htm )

You might want to check out Don Byron's interesting tribute album to him, Jim. I expect Byron is a little avante-garde for your tastes (he can be a little avante-garde for mine) but the record is pretty interesting, exploring the hidden connections between klezmer and jazz, and between Jewish and black culture.

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