Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Field testing Jewish wedding music: Sameach's Siman Tov Mazel Tov

Has it been a week since I posted? Whew. Sorry folks, it's been pretty hectic. I was scrambling to finish up some work prior to skipping town for my brother's wedding. Me and my gang flew west to LA for one of the coolest wedding's ever. My brother married a lovely Chinese American woman. The ceremony was Jewish (Reform style with some nice more traditional flourishes) and was bracketed with a Chinese Tea Ceremony and a nine-course Chinese banquet complete with Lion Dance. The Tea Ceremony was particularly entertaining for me and the other groomsmen. To help the the groom gain admittance we had to charm and bribe the bridesmaids. This involved dancing a can-can line, singing from the musical Grease, and drinking special tea (two shots of Makers Mark bourbon). Oh yeah, and I got thrown from a mechanical bull at the bachelor's party.

Siman Tov Mazel Tov cover artSo, I had this grand plan. Sruly Meyer from Samaech music recently sent me a copy of their new Jewish wedding compilation "Siman Tov Mazel Tov." My plan was to coax the DJ at the wedding into slipping in some of the tracks. Once upon a time, my brother was going to have a klezmer band, but ended up with a DJ with 7 versions (I asked him) of Hava Nagila and not much else. Perfect, right. Even better than me reviewing the disc, I could tell you what my family and my new sister-in-law's family thought. Would they dance? Or not?

Well, the perfect plan failed. The DJ was happy to take the CD and promised me to play the tracks I suggested. But the party ran late, my kids melted, and my wife pulled the plug. We scooted back to the hotel with me hoping for a few spectators reports. None came though. Without me their to nudge, the DJ didn't play the tracks. Sigh.

Anyway, selecting tracks for the DJ gave me a good focal point for listening to the disc and got me to remember the occasion the disc was intended for. Which was good, because from my Conservative Jewish perspective, it's a bit of a strange disc. There were the requisite jazzy versions of Yiddish standards, chuppah sets and big band sets. And Israeli disco sets.

Israeli disco? Songs like Popcorn and Electric slide side by size with Sandy Shmuely's Zodiac and Ari Pollack's Chai. In full disco horns and strings glory. Frum weddings must be quite the party if this is what gets played. It was the disco set I was hoping the DJ would play from.

But it was not to be. No field test for me.

If you're looking for disc of contemporary Jewish wedding music as played in the traditional Jewish community this disc is a one-stop shop. And if you're not looking for a wedding disc, it's worth the price of the disc just to hear the Israeli disco set. Really.

Go check it out at JewishJukebox. You can hear samples of all of the tracks.

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