Monday, September 17, 2007

Bas Sheva

Ritual of the Savage Album CoverSomewhere out there is a land where Tiki bars still serve Mai Tai's at sunset against the backdrop of Martin Denny drum beats and tropic bird calls. One such exotic bird was Beatrice Kurzman, aka Bas Sheva. According to "Uncle Dave Lewis, All Music Guide," Bas Sheva was
"born to a wealthy and prominent Jewish family in Philadelphia. When Kurzman decided to go into show business she adopted the name "Bas Sheva" (i.e., the Biblical "Bathsheba") in order not to embarrass her family....and probably got her start singing in the socalled "Borscht Belt" of Catskill Mountains resorts.

In 1953 Bas Sheva was engaged by bandleader Hal Mooney as the principal voice on Soul of a People, a collection of traditional Jewish songs issued by Capitol. This was a very successful disc in the Jewish market, and Bas Sheva's brassy, no holds barred delivery of this familiar material was an important element in making Soul of a People appealing....Bas Sheva's performance on The Passions is quite amazing even 50 years on; she screams, wails, whimpers, howls, grunts, and even acts a little to the pulsating rhythms of Baxter's dark, gritty, and complex musical score...

In 1960 Bas Sheva died at age 34 from a diabetic reaction suffered while entertaining on board a cruise ship."
I love finding treasures like Bas Sheva. She was a talented performer who produced some amazing Jewish and non-Jewish material. It's sad to imagine what she might have accomplished if she'd lived longer.

Bas Sheva - Jealousy

Soul of a People Album CoverYou can still get Bas Sheva's recording "Ritual of the Savage / Passion" from Amazon and her film 'Catskill Honeymoon' from the Israel Store. Unfortunately, her recording "Soul of a People" is long out-of-print. Even Ebay came up empty. I found one copy of a 10' Brazilian LP available from NetSoundMusic. I'll probably pass on that, but if anyone knows where I can find a CD or .mp3 copy, let me know.

Thanks to Rob88dom shuon25 of the the schuon25 blog for assembling the video and for pointing to me to Bas Sheva's biography.


Ina said...

Is there anyway to get a copy of "Soul of my People." My father owned the Universal Hebrew Bookstore in Roxbury and later Mattapan outside of Boston, Ma.

Jack said...

Hi Ina,

The original 10" LP turns up on eBay from time to time. Right now there are three copies available. Just search for Bas Sheva.

I don't have reliable info on this, but it seems that a compilation of Bas Sheva's Passions and Soul of the People has been reissued on CD recently and might be available via import. I'm not sure if the compilation includes selections from the two albums or contains the full albums. I've seen it for sale on Amazon.Co.Uk and on Zavvi.Co.Uk. I hope that helps.

Anonymous said...

The video was made by schuon25 and is also on Google and MySpace!

Thank you,
scuon25 (aka nouhcs52 or johnxxx20000)

Jack said...

Hi scoun25. Sorry for mis-attribution. I'll clean it up pronto.

ian kaye said...

There are a few errors in Bas Sheva biography presented here.Al lewis was inaccurate.
bas Sheva was born Bernice kanefsky,not beatrice kurzman.Her father was cantor joseph kanefsky,who recorded for folkways records.His recordings are also available on the internet.She sang with her father since childhood,at concerts ,weddings,etc.Her hebrew name was Bas Sheva.She was billed as bas Sheva Kanefsky when she performed with her father.
When she married Al Hausman,(pianist,arranger)she started her show business career.Her father was always supportive of her secular career.At the time of her life span women were not permitted to be cantors in a synagogue.That option was never available to her.
Cantor Ian Kaye (Kanefsky)
Bas Sheva's (Brother)

Jack said...

Cantor, Thanks for the corrections. I'll update my post this weekend. Your sister was a wonderful performer.