Thursday, August 28, 2008

Ortner-Roberts Duo & The Cotton Club Sher

I haven't written much about the link up between early Jazz and early 20th Century klezmer, mostly because it's been so heavily explored elsewhere. I ran into this video this morning, though, and thought it would be fun to go there for a moment. Partly because I love rich banging of the piano set against the warm, shrill clarinet (wonderful tone) and partly because, as an ex-Pittsburger, I love to highlight that unfairly neglected American city.

The video is the Ortner Roberts Duo playing "The Cotton Club Sher," a medley of Duke Ellington's "The Mooche" and "Rusische Sher" as recorded by the "I.J. Hochman’s Jewish orchestra." The video was shot at 3rd Street Gallery, Carnegie, PA, on August 16th 08. Here's the Duo's explanation...
“The Mooche” (1928) is one of the early masterpieces of Duke Ellington, composed during his residency at the famous Harlem nightspot The Cotton Club. The wailing descending melodic figure has a distinctly cantorial feel. The minor blues section begins as it did on the original recording featuring the Creole clarinet of Barney Bigard, but very easily transforms into a “Jewish blues”. Ellington’s introduction utilizes a very modern, dissonant chord sequence highlighting the tri-tone or “devil’s interval”. This serves as the transition point into one of the most diabolical sounding pieces in the entire klezmer repertoire: “ Rusische Sher” recorded in 1922 by I.J. Hochman’s Jewish orchestra. A sher, (translation: scissors) is a figure dance similar to the American square dance. The same “devil’s interval” creates the fiendish quality here in the first section of the piece."
Ortner-Roberts Duo/Cotton Club Sher

The Ortner Roberts Duo, A Trip To AmericaYou can get more info on the Ornter-Roberts Duo on their Myspace page. They also released an album recently called "A Trip to America". You can read a nice review of it and get purchase information over at Klezmershack.

No comments: