Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Justyna Steczkowska

Here's are some lovely tunes from Polish singer Justyna Steczkowska. Definitely in the 'big production number' stage show vein, but nice. The "Alkimja" (Alchemy) referred to in the title of the second is an album of Jewish material released in 2002. The Warsaw Voice has a review of Alkimja, noting that it
"is a combination of truly kosher melodies and harmonies, with oriental, Latino, Balkan and African influences-a true alchemy of sounds, seasoned with a light dose of electronica....The lyrics for Alkimja, written by Roman Kołakowski, refer to the metaphysics of Jewish culture. Numerous quotations in Latin, Hebrew, Aramaic, Yiddish and Ladino don't pose any real difficulty for the listener-they sound like magic formulas or spells which help us find the sense of life, love, goodness and optimism."
Huh? I'm not so thrilled with Jewish culture being channelled as the Polish equivalent of new-age crystals. There's been lots of discussion lately about a growing interest in Jewish culture as local exotica among non-Jews in countries like Poland and Germany. (See posts here, here, and the Gruber's book "Virtually Jewish") but Steczkowska is supposed to be a bit more earnest in her appreciation for Jewish culture than some others.

And she does seem to put on an entertaining show. If you like these, there are lots more Steczkowska videos on YouTube and Amazon has "Alkimja"

Justyna Steczkowska "Graj, klezmerska kapelo!"

Justyna Steczkowska ALKIMJA LIVE Austeria

(I found the first video on YouTube this morning, but when I was checking some sources I realized that Steve Weintraub posted the second video and started a great discussion about Steczkowska on the Klezmershack Jewish Music Mailing List back in March. So hat tip to Steve, even If I was months late).

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