Friday, July 9, 2010

Klezmer / Jazz from Argentina .... The Lerner-Moguilevsky Duo

Aleph BetHi folks. Today's great Jewish music find is César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky, the Lerner-Moguilevsky Duo. Woodwind player Lerner and piano/accordion player Moguilevsky are based in Buenos Aires, Argentina and play a lovely, arty, klezmer-influenced jazz. While new to me, they're not a new combo. They've been playing together for 15 years and have just released their fifth klezmer/jazz recording, Aleph Beth. I haven't found a good import source for their recordings yet, but you can order directly from them or download their 2003 recording Sobreviviente from eMusic. (Which I'll be doing shortly).

While most of their press is in Spanish, I was tipped off to them by a recent article in English in the Buenos Aires Herald. It's fine article, but I admit being a bit amused/annoyed by the following comment.
"In Argentina, though, and despite having the largest Jewish community in South America, klezmer remained rather relegated, downgraded to intimate expressions in the private life of the community members, most of all as the music played in festive occasions such as weddings and bar-mitzvahs. "
Yes there is an age old tension between klezmer as country wedding music vs citified cabaret / theater music, but I'm not quite sure how anyone but a city slicker art house music snob could say "downgraded to intimate expressions in the private live of community members" with a straight face. Yay intimate expressions. Bring 'em on. (And bring on the art house too!)

The article follows...
"This is why the oeuvre of Lerner and Moguilevsky, sustained in time and in an impeccable discography, is so important. Both grandsons of Eastern Europe and Russian Jewish immigrants, they have rescued those traditions that were just there, anesthetized in the memory of a whole community, waiting to come to life and flourish again not just as something from a time already gone, but as a present cultural expression with strong links with the present and the past at the same time."
That's my kind of florid prose. I could say that with a straight face. Here's the Lerner Moguivsky Duo playing during Yiddish Summer Weimar, July 2007. There are a lot more videos available on YouTube, so check 'em out.

Hat tip to YouTube user, failsworthpole for posting the video.


Anonymous said...

It's certainly great music. Why is it 'Jewish music'?

Jack said...

Hi...That's always an interesting question and often up to the intentions of the artists. In this case,both Lerner and Moguilevsky are Jewish and are very self-consciously drawing on traditional Jewish musical modes (specifically those from klezmer music) and on Jewish experiences. If you look at their discography, each album description references their perspective on the Eastern European and Argentinian Jewish experience.

That said, it is clearly Jewish culture performance music, not liturgical music or devotional music. It is not (or doesn't appear to be) religiously Jewish in the sense that nigun or congregational singing, or even a rock band singing a section of tehillim, is religiously Jewish music.

Does that help? Or are you asking something different?