Saturday, June 28, 2008

Lipa Schmeltzer's New Album: A Poshiter Yid

Lipa's new album is out. It will be fun to watch the fireworks.

Lipa's a controversial figure at the moment in the traditional Jewish communities. He's known for over-the-top songs and performances (see my post on his fabulously nutty "Oy Channukah" video) that some in on the Charedi, ultra-orthodox, side strongly disapprove of. The big stink recently was over the banning of his Big Event concert days before it was supposed to happen. This was a big deal debacle in the Orthodox / Chassidic music community and was discussed endlessly in j-blogosphere. My post on it was little more than a me-too addendum to the dialog compared to the excellent posts at BloginDm and LifeOfRubin.

So now he's back with a new album "A Poshiter Yid" (a simple Jew). Blog in Dm has already posted a great review of it, commenting that "This is a very subversive disc. The graphical elements in the packaging, marketing, and music all work together to set up the theme, Lipa the "Poshiter Yid", the simple Jew ... It's going to be difficult for the rabbonim to argue with that pseudo-modest self-assessment." and "A number of these songs are going to be in the simcha rotation this season in Brooklyn, I'd guess. My prediction: "Yomam Volayla", "Asher Yotzar", and "Hentelech" will make the second dance set at Brooklyn weddings this season."

It's going to be interesting to watch the response to the album.

Here's a short promo video for the album. You can also hear an interview with JM in the AM's Nachum Segal and listen to a 7 minute preview of the album. (Both courtesy of Chaim at the LifeOfRubin blog)

Lipa Schmeltzer's New Album: A Poshiter Yid

Hat tip to YouTube user CeeRubin aka Chaim at the Life of Rubin blog for posting the video.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Fortuna - Brazilian Sephardic Vocalist sings Shalom Aleichem

Shabbat shalom everyone,

For my weekly 'get in the Shabbat groove' video, here's Fortuna's lovely performance of Shalom Aleichem. Fortuna is Jewish Brazilian vocalist steeped in the Sephardic music tradition, which, according to her bio, she discovered on a trip to Israel in 1991. "It a was a magic moment," she says. "I felt all the beauty, sweetness and wisdom contained in these songs. It resulted in a complete turnaround in my career and also in a deeper contact with Jewish culture, religion and customs". (quote from her website) Since then, she's released a series of albums on the MCD label that both mine and preserve this tradition. This video is a clip from her Caelestia DVD and CD. In addition to her own albums, Fortuna has been features compilation albums from Putumayo World Music including "Dreamland," singing the Ladino lullabye "Durme, Durme", Tango Around the World, singing "Tango Idishe" (Yiddish Tango), and "A Jewish Odyssey", singing "Shalom Aleichem". A video of Fortuna's Tango Idishe has been posted on Vimeo, go check it out.

Fortuna - Shalom Aleichem

Hat Tip to YouTube user CRISativa for posting the video. If you liked this video, please consider supporting the artist and purchasing one of her cd's or videos.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Dona Dona - by Eva, Melle and Kris

Here's a lovely, informal, version of the Yiddish classic "Dona Dona." I don't know anything about the performers, Eva, Melle, and Kris, other than they did a lovely job with the song. This is my favorite kind of video, just a couple of folks loving a good song and reminding us of how much life this music still has in it.

"Dona Dona" was originally written by Aaron Zeitlin (lyrics) and Sholom Secunda (music) for the Yiddish musical "Esterke" in the early 1940s. The song became a favorite of the American folk revival in the 1960's has been performed and recorded many times by folks including Joan Baez, Donavon, and Theodore Bikel. You can read the full lyrics in Yiddish and English at Wikipedia.

Dona Dona - by Eva, Melle and Kris

Hat tip to YouTube user OrangeJunk20 for posting the video.

Update: Sigh. One click on OrangeJunk20's YouTube page clarified things a bit. The Kris (the guy) in the video is singer/songwriter Kris Shred.

Train De Vie - Gypsy meets Klezmer music

I just ran across this fabulous scene from the movie Train de Vie where Gypsy and Jewish peasants and musicians collide. I'm sure I've seen it before, so here's a general hat tip to whichever blog or mailing list go it first. Train de Vie is a film by Radu Mihailenau which tells the story of a fictional "small Jewish village in Central Europe [that] organize[s] a fake deportation train so that they can escape the Nazis and flee to Palestine." (Quote from IMDB)

Jewish klezmer vs Gipsy music - Train de vie

Hat tip to YouTube user TaraDeHaidouks for posting the video.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Lori Cahan-Simon, folklorist, vocalist, and guest DJ

I've enjoyed having a Last.FM radio widget tacked on to my blog lately. Dialed to the 'Jewish' tag, it's spun a delightfully random stream of clips ranging from Matisyahu to European heavy metal band Rootwater's Hava Nagila to a Noam Chomsky lecture. But I thought I'd share the fun. I've invited critically acclaimed singer/folklorist Lori Cahan-Simon to guest DJ the Teruah radio for a while. Lori's Last.FM radio station will stream vintage and post-revival klezmer including Dave Tarras, Les Yeux Noirs, Naftule's Dream, Den Flygande Bokrullen, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Give it a listen and let us know what you think.

Lori's got a series of excellent albums that are well worth checking out including "Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl Gelbart," "Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me; Volume One: Passover," and "Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration. Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume Two"
Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl GelbartReleased in late 2003, Lori Cahan-Simon's "Vessel Of Song" is another fine collection of Yiddish songs by this outstanding Yiddish singer. Sub-titled "The Music Of Mikhl Gelbart", the album presents fifteen songs (two of which are medleys) by one of Yiddish song's greatest composers. Born near Lodz, Poland in 1889, the son of a poor khazn (cantor), Gelbart started writing music for a theatre group he toured with between 1909 and 1911 before immigrating to the United States in 1912. There he continued his theatrical and compositional activities, eventually also teaching singing, first at the Workmen's Circle in New York. Mikhl Gelbart died of bone cancer in 1962 and is still remembered by many of his students with great affection. He left a huge body of work that includes six oratorios, fifteen operettas, eight orchestral pieces, and settings of the works of some one hundred and twenty poets. He also published some twenty books of Yiddish songs. Gelbart's music is of a deeply folk-rooted nature and thus was often assumed to be traditional folk music of anonymous origin. The Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble's "Vessel Of Song" presents a superb if necessarily tiny cross-section of Gelbart's vast body of Yiddish songs.

Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me; Volume One: PassoverIn the desire to cast off the ways of the old world and in the ashes of the Nazi death camps, most of the songs included here have been lost or forgotten by the majority of Yiddish performers. But in the first of what will presumably be a series of recordings documenting Yiddish songs for all occasions, singer/folklorist Lori Cahan-Simon collects fourteen Yiddish Passover songs and performs them with her top-notch ensemble of local and national Yiddish vocal and klezmer talent. On half the numbers, Cahan-Simon shares vocal duties with Michael Alpert, best known for his work with klezmer group Brave Old World. The instrumentalists include Steven Greenman, violinist for the group Khevrisa, cymbalomist Alezandr Fedoriouk, who has worked with jazz artist Herbie Mann and John Cale of the Velvet Underground, and Walt Mahovlich, who currently leads the East European folk group Harmonia.

A work of incalculable folkloric value, as well as an entertaining and educational tool, Cahan-Simon's CD is well-annotated with extensive background notes and complete lyrics, transliterated and translated into English. The musicianship is on a very high level, and Cahan-Simon is a compelling, theatrical vocalist, whether she is tackling the cantorial-style, rubato phrases of "Avodim Hoyinu (We Were Slaves)" or the intimate cabaret-pop of "In dem land fun piramidn (In the Land of Pyramids)" by "sweatshop poet" Dovid Edelshtadt. "Shvimt dos kestl afn nil (The Little Basket Floats on the Nile)", laced with flute by Mahovlich, has an appropriately Middle Eastern feel to it, and "Dayeynu" is rendered in an upbeat, klezmer-to-jazz arrangement. The highlight of the recording is the swinging, imaginative duet between Cahan-Simon and Alpert on "Der Bekher (Tayere Malke)". Henry Shapiro's acoustic bass keeps the tune moving at a speedy pace, and the musicans interpolate eight rollicking, traditional klezmer tunes in between the verses." -- Seth Rogovoy (Author of The Essential Klezmer), Sing Out! Magazine

Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration. Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume Two Most people, if you ask them to name a Chanukah song, will tell you “I Have a Little Dreidel”, and not be able to go any further. Some will tell you the Hebrew songs “Mi Yemalel” or “Maoz Tsur”. On this recording you will find the finest Yiddish Chanukah songs I could find, including one from the earliest Yidish songbook published with melodies, from 1727, up to those written through the end of the 20th century. Also present are the original Yiddish versions of the above mentioned dreydl song and “Oh Chanukah, Oh Chanukah”. These may be the only tunes that are familiar to you, but don’t let that stop you listening. Some of you may remember these songs from when you went to Yiddish school, but I think most of you won’t know them at all. These are marvelous songs which deserve to be heard and not forgotten in a dusty book, moldering on a neglected shelf somewhere.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Diamond Days, or When Is a Jewish music fest not a Jewish music fest

Diamond Days posterI love summer music festivals. I love the 'this will never end' feeling of a whole series of bands taking their turn. I love not being able to decide which which bandstand to settle into and knowing that I'll probably duck my head into all of them. I love going to see a favorite band and coming home with three new ones, and their albums bought from kid brothers behind card tables. And meeting other fans, as we shuffle between venues or snack lines.

There is a whole series of Jewish music festivals in the US showcasing a wide variety of Jewish related music from the US, Israel and around the world. If you're near a big city, there will like be one near you and I strongly urge you to check it out. I've got a list of them started in one of the Teruah side panels. If I've missed yours, please let me know. I'm particularly delinquent on adding the Israeli and other non-US festivals. Working on it...

Ok. This brings me to Diamond Days and the question of what makes a Jewish music festival. Diamond Days is a new music fest in Oakland California in July. Its officially sponsored by Heeb Magazine and is being organized by DJ and Heeb editor Jay Diamond. Regular Teruah readers know that I'm not very keen on Heeb magazine. I'd like to be. I'd like to be excited about a magazine about young Jews being hip and clever. The problem is, I find the underlying message of the magazine to be 'you can be a hip and clever young Jew if you wear a cool Jewish themed t-shirt and hang out with one or two other hip and clever young Jews, just don't actually be serious about anything, particularly Judaism." Diamond Days is a great example of this.

Total bands playing = around 30.
Number of Jewish music (defined as loosely as you like) band's playing = 0
My opinion of Heeb = dropping like a rock

I'm not much of an investigative journalist, but I thought I'd email Jay and get the story from him. Fair is fair. If I'm going to get grumpy, he should have the chance to speak for himself. Here is, more or less, what's going on. Jay is putting on a music fest because when "I was younger, I started getting really into punk rock, and my friends and I would set up these shows for our friends bands, and bands on tour. I've just always loved the energy behind live music, and the idea of a festival has always appealed to me. "

While Diamond Days isn't primarily a fund raiser, "we are donating profits to the Ella Barker Center for Human Rights in Oakland ( which is a wonderful organization, that I couldn't be happier to be associated with. They have a few really amazing programs which I am very supportive of, and I hope we can help get them some support. .... Diamond Day's isn't a fund raiser in the traditional sense. It's a music fest, but I try and focus on the local side of things, which I think a lot of bigger indie festivals tend to forget about. I feel like including a local non-profit like Ella barker is important to that idea of community."

So this is all good stuff and a good reasons to organize a music festival. It's the sort of thing I've always wanted to do but never did. But why did it get branded a Heeb event? "I've tried to think of ways of explaining the Jewish connection to this fest, but aside from the fact that I am Jewish, and that Heeb is a Jewish magazine the only overall Jewish things that I can take from this is the sense of community that I talked about"

Ok. But that's just not good enough for me. To me that says that Heeb magazine just doesn't get it. We're at a point when Jewish music is exploding. There are new bands announcing themselves almost daily. We've got both massive crossover artists like Matisyahu and Y-Love and great new indie bands (the Shondes). We've got an jazz scene. Sephardic music is coming alive and the classical scene is growing fast. And, of course, the klezmer revival has hit a point where I can't imagine a town in the US with any reasonable sized Jewish community not having at least one klezmer band. Jewish songleader (singer/songwriter) types are on constant tour.

But evidently none of that matters. Because, to Jay and Heeb, having a vague "sense of community" is enough. Don't worry if that community has no Jewish character. Don't worry if that community perpetuates the marginalization of Jewish culture, even in the face of it's resurgence. Don't actually be Jewish (what ever that means to you). None of that matters. Just don't forget to show up, bring a friend, and wear the damn t-shirt.

Friday, June 20, 2008

viel Herz und Gefiehl - Andrea Giani and Gefilte Fish

I was looking for my weekly pre-Shabbat "get in the mood" video when I ran across this lovely montage of Andrea Giani and Gefilte Fish. It gets partial credit in the Shabbat department for the Giani's Adon Olam segment in the middle. Giani has an amazing voice. According to her bio she "was born in Cologne. She studied Piano and Voice in her native city and at the »Richard Strauss Conservatory« in Munich...Her repertoire extends from jazz standards to French and German chansons and on to Yiddish and Jewish songs, which – with her versatile and expressive dark voice – she sings with a lot of heart and soul: »viel Herz und Gefiehl«." I'll say. The Gefilte Fish band, which includes Joe Rappaport on violin, Tobias Schwartz on upright bass, Roman Chowdhury on guitar, and Angeliki Koufou on accordion provide her just the right jazz cabaret feel to support her without overwhelming her or loosing their own identities. I particularly loved Koufou's accordian playing.

This video seems to be songs recorded on the Gefilte Fish album "Sol Sejn" available as an import through your favorite music store or online at Amazon, CD Universe, or Tower Records. According to the YouTube notes "These recordings/filming took place at ODEON studios Athens Greece January 28 2007 for David Nachmias' show TIMIS ENEKEN (Under the auspices of Greek National Television ERT)"

GEFILTE FISH Jiddische Lieder Kompilation (Athens recording)

Hat tip to YouTube user "Kombothekras" for posting the video.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

David Fagin interviewed by The Jewish Television Network

It's one in the morning and I've worked late every night for the past week. Two research grant proposals out the door and the presentation for tomorrow's funders review all done (well, done enough to go to bed.) sigh. Anyway, I've got just enough energy for a quick cut & past post.

From the YouTube video notes:
"David Fagin founded the NYC pop quartet, The Rosenbergs. That wasn't enough so he joined Rob Tannenbaum to produce music that was "Good for the Jews". Still not satisfied he just completed work on his first solo effort, "For Promotional Use Only."

The Rosenbergs' David Fagin One-on-One

Attentive readers may remember my excitement over the "Good for the Jews" video "They tried to kill us, we survived, let's eat." If you haven't heard it, do it now. Then learn it by heard and sing it at your next Passover seder, bris, or simcha of choice. You can find Fagin at his website and his myspace page.

Hat tip to the Jewish Television Network for posting this video.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Jewish Music: Contexts and Categories

Jewish Music Resource Center logoSorry folks, no music this time. I just wanted to pass along an interesting email exchange I recently had with Eva Heinstein of The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She works on the Thesaurus of Jewish Music and maintains their blog, Jewish Music Research. She wrote to me let me know about their website and we got to talking about Jewish music. Go figure. I posed her a question that's been bugging me and got an interesting reply. Here we go...
JACK: "I'm wondering if you or one of your colleagues might be able to set me straight on a music theory question that has been perplexing me. One of my observations studying and writing about Jewish music is that it is very diverse, but in relatively systematic ways. It's easy, for example, to categorize Jewish music by geography region or temporal period, for example. It's also (usually) easy to make gross genre comparisons (e.g. a klezmer doina vs a Ladino love song). There is another set of comparisons that I typically make but that I lack good terminology for, the distinction between the contexts in which a composer expects the musical work to be performed. For example, a musical setting for the liturgical piyot might initially be intended for vocal performance in concert setting, then get adopted into a communities shul-based Kabbalat Shabbat service, and then get re-arranged as performance piece by a rock band. As noted, I could describe the shift as "art music" to "liturgical music" to "popular music" or "choral" to "liturgical" to "rock." Those are meaningful comparisons but seem to miss the point. The big comparison that I see is the shift from a performance context to a practice context back to a performance context. Not being well grounded in musicology, I struggle with terms. Is "context" an appropriate term? If so what kind of context categories have been recognized?"

EVA: As for your question, I thought immediately about a paper that was presented at a conference in London last year. Suzel Anna Reily presented a paper, which examines whether the traditional musicological categories of folk, art and popular music still apply. While you are also speaking about liturgical and para-liturgical performance contexts, I think the idea behind the paper very much speaks to your question.

The head of the department here at Hebrew University, Professor Edwin Seroussi, speaks about the blurring of contexts and categories in musicological research often in his seminars. I read a paper of his recently that follows the "journey" of one Judeo-Spanish romance "Las Horas de La Vida" from its original folk contexts, to research anthologies, to commercial recordings, and back again. In the paper, he essentially tries to tease out how the folksong became one of the most performed and recorded pieces in the Judeo-Spanish repertoire. What becomes clear is that the categories of art, folk, research and commercial overlap and influence one another greatly. So, I think you are right in feeling that there is movement between contexts or categories, and that the traditional categories are too stringent for the kind of musical phenomena we see today (maybe they were always too stringent?).

I think your sense of performance versus practice contexts is generally understood in scholarship as art versus folk or popular categories. However, we know today that just because music is performed on stage, doesn't make it art music. Likewise, just because music is performed in a communal or family context doesn't necessarily make if "folk" or "popular." So again, I think we come back to the same problem of overly-simplified categories that no long really apply to the varied and multiple contexts in which the same musics (or variations of the same music) are performed.
So what do you folks think? What kinds of categories and contexts make sense to you?

Eva also provided this set of useful pointers in the ethnomusicology field. This is an area where I know nothing and need to get a bit smarter.

1)Ethnomusicology the Journal of the Society for Ethnomusicology
2) Ethnomusicology Forum (formerly British Journal of Ethnomusicology) published by Routledge
3) Yearbook for Traditional Music published by the International Council for Traditional Music at Columbia University
4) Popular Music published by the Cambridge University Press
5)Musica Judaica the Journal of the American Society for Jewish Music
6) Israel Studies in Musicology the journal of the Israel Musicological Society\
7) Yuval (our journal!) published by the Jewish Music Research Centre (There is also the Yuval Music series which publish musical anthologies on different areas of Jewish musical traditions).
8) Not sure how your Hebrew is, but דוכן is an important Jewish music journal published by the Rennanot Center for Jewish Music in Israel


A short list:

John Blacking's How Musical is Man? and Music, Culture & Experience: Selected Papers of John Blacking. He was a very important thinker and founder of the discipline.

Bruno Nettl's The Study of Ethnomusicology. An important book that deals with definitions, methodologies, and a number of central issues in the dicipline.

Kay Kaufman Shelemay. She is the head of the department of Musicology at Harvard, and a very impressive academic. Her writing is delightful, and she has done a lot of work with Jewish music (Let Jasmine Rain Down is her study of the musical traditions of the Syrian Jewish Community in Brooklyn). She put out an annotated collection of articles dealing with core definitions and the scope of Ethnomusicology titled Ethnomusicology: History, Definitions, and Scope.

Mark Slobin. Has published a number of studies on Jewish music revival movements, particularly the Klezmer revival movement. He always approaches his case studies with more fundamental questions about music making, culture, religion, and identity. His writing is very thought provoking.

If you are looking for information on a specific ethnic music the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music is a great resource. It includes ten volumes, each focuses on another area of the World

Other helpful Websites:

1) Grove Music: You might already be aware of Grove Music Online, you need a subscription, but most libraries have access to the online version. The URL is In addition to information on specific composers and genres, it has some great articles on bigger ideas and questions from a musicological perspective (for example there is a great article written by Richard Tarushkin on Nationalism and Music)

2) Milken Archive of Jewish Music: You have probably also come across this website, but if you haven't, it is a great resource. Lots of bio's, interviews, recordings etc...

3) The Molly and Robert Jewish Sound Archive Website: An amazing database that includes thousands of Jewish music recordings.

4) Brown University Yiddish Sheet Music Archive A great website with full Yiddish music scores scanned in, and a lot of great general information about Yiddish theater music and research.


1) Jewish Music Forum Lecture Series A very interesting lecture series that covers a wide variety of topics in Jewish music research. I was able to attend a few while I was a student in NYC, and I enjoyed them tremendously.

2) World Congress of Jewish Studies Next year it is going to be at Hebrew University. There are always papers submitted on Jewish Music, many of which can viewed in full text through Lekket the Web based collection of Jewish studies articles:

Thanks Eva, I really appreciate the discussion and pointers!

Monday, June 16, 2008

"The Jewish Songbook" according to Adam Sandler, Jason Alexander, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Rob Schneider, and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog?

The Jewish Songbook album coverThe music publisher Shout! Factor specializes in repackaging and reprinting old albums for new audiences and putting together odd themed various artists collections to appeal to niche audiences. This time the niche audience is, well, us. They recently released the album "The Jewish Songbook: The Heart and Humor of A People" which includes "11 Brand New Recordings From Today's Top Entertainers!" and "wholeheartedly documents the creative richness of Jewish culture." Whew. Gotta get me some of that wholeheartedness!

Ok. I've had my fun teasing the marketers. Yes, it's an odd collection of performers. Last time I checked Adam Sandler, Jason Alexander, Barbra Streisand, Neil Sedaka, Rob Schneider, Manhattan Transfer, and the inimitable Triumph the Insult Comic Dog are not top shelf Yiddish talents. (Ok, Babs is queen of anything she does). I just mean if you wanted to put together a sharp sounding album of Jewish musicians, this wouldn't be it. But Shout! Factory specializes in gathering up ex-A list and hopeful B and C list talents for projects like this.

And, truth to tell, I think it works. From the clips I've heard (Amazon has samples of the albums tracks) even Triumph the Insult Comic Dog comes out sounding pretty good. It's mostly jazzy uptempo arrangements of Jewish standards with a heavy focus on Yiddish material (My Yiddishe Momme, Raisins And Almonds, you get the idea). Theodore Bikel's "Sabbath Prayer" comes right out of Fiddler on the Roof. I have to give credit to Adam Sandler, though. Instead of taking the more expected comic turn, he picked "Hine Ma Tov" and gives it a very credible presentation.

So bottom line ... this isn't an album I'm likely to run out and buy. I listen to way to much top quality Jewish music to want to throw this disc on. But I'm not really the niche market Shout! Factory is going for. They're going for my brothers, who might dig hearing Adam Sandler getting his Jew on, or my dad who might still be holding a candle for Streisand after all these years. In other words, they're going for the niche market of typical American Jews who only are vaguely connected with Jewish music (or Judaism for that matter). That's a pretty big market and I expect this album to do well.

Heck, I might buy a copy or two for my brothers. I think they really would dig hear Sandler sing Hine Ma Tov."

To help promote the album, the Shout! Factory gang put together this little promo video. Thought I'd pass it along. Don't be fooled by the title, though. There's nothing "behind the scenes about it." Just some of the artists chatting for the camera.

The Jewish Songbook - Behind The Scenes

Hat tip to the Klezmershack mailing list for letting me know about the album.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Yitzhak Yedid performs Shabbat Baqashot

I've posted about Baqashot before, but not quite like this. According to the Sephardic Pizmonim Project, "[t]he Baqashot (or "bakashot", שירת הבקשות) are a collection of supplications, songs, and prayers that have been sung by the Sephardic Aleppian Jewish community and other congregations for centuries each week on Shabbat (Sabbath) morning from midnight until dawn. Usually they are recited during the weeks of winter, when the nights are much longer. The duration of the services is usually about four hours. This presentation of baqashot is a (shorter than four hour) performance by Israeli pianist Yitzhak Yedid who somehow manages to conjure the tonal qualities of an oud out of a piano. It's quite lovely.

Yitzhak Yedid performs Bakashot of Shabbat in Australia

If you'd like to hear some authentic baqashot recordings, the Sephardic Pizmonim Project has a nice starter set online and an 11 CD set available for purchase. You can find Yedid's recordings at among other sources.

Hat Tip to YouTube user AlanBreat for posting the video.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Oseh Shalom

Ok, this video is very heavy on the schmazlt, but it's worth sharing. Shabbat shalom everyone.

Oseh Shalom

"Featuring the Chief Rabbi of the United Kingdom Sir Jonathan Sacks, this song is the finale to the Home of Hope double CD featuring music and words to celebrate Israel's 60th Anniversary. For more info and music visit: or email"

Hat tip to the Hanashir mailing list for point me to this one.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rohan Kriwaczek, Klezmer, Art Music, and the Guild of Funerary Violinists

Rohan KriwaczekThere are some pretty odd and interesting corners to be explored in the Jewish music world. And in one of them you'll find Rohan Kriwaczek perched, violin in hand and bowler had jammed down over his eyes, sitting on a barrel. Kriswaczek is most famously known (and profiled on NPR) for his book "An Incomplete History of the Art of Funerary Violin." The book, which I understand to be a wonderfully spun, but completely fictitious, tale chronicles the history of the guild...
"From its origins in the Elizabethan Protestant Reformation, to its final extinction amidst the guns of the First World War, the Art of Funerary Violin was characterised by many unique and frequently misunderstood qualities that set it quite apart from all other forms of music. Indeed it is these distinctive characteristics that make it a truly unique genre, with its own specific concerns, aesthetic and function. Throughout the many changes in culture and society between the foundation of the Guild of Funerary Violinists in 1580 and the death of Niklaus Friedhaber (the last of the practicing official Funerary Violinists) in 1915, it retained a trueness to its origins and function, and a commitment to purity of form and mode, unparalleled in any other Western European musical tradition: due, in part, to the exclusive social role it played in relating the greatness of the higher classes directly to the ears of the lower classes."
(I haven't read the book yet, but it's on my wishlist.)

Wandering Jew album coverKriwaczek, himself, is a composer and performer. He has a series of darkly theatrical recordings that draw on "Eastern European, Middle Eastern and Jewish folk music," has scored TV, radio and theater and performed under a variety of names including Infamous Reverend Rohan K., "Dr. Asperger's Klezmer Tonic", and The Guild of Funerary Violinists. I'd love get my hands on some of his recordings but he's not on eMusic and I've used up my music budget for June already. He's top on the list for July.

The Keening, from The Wandering Jew

A Fistful of Klezmer, from Looking Back

The Hall of Magic Words and God’s Great Flood, from Ritual Dark Music

Carl Dimow's "klezmerish jam on bass flute"

I guess this is klezmer week on Teruah. Today's feature is an interesting video of Carl Dimow of the The Casco Bay Tummlers, Zhok Therapy ("the unruly alter-ego" of the Tummlers) and the Kolosko Dimow Duo playing on the Us Folk radio show. According to his bio Dimow is an "eclectic and creative musician. His performances range from classical music to jazz, from klezmer to blues, and from original theater music to traditional folk music." And he gives lessons!

For more info on Dimow and hear audio clips from his many albums, check out his website. Dimow has posted additional videos on Vimeo, all well worth the listen. If anyone is surprised to hear klezmer flute and wants to learn more about it, check out Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik website. She's the reigning queen of the klezmer flute and has a lot to say about it's history.

Hat Tip to Us Folk for hosting the show. Us Folk is a weekly program on WMPG Portland, Maine, and streams live at 10:30 Eastern Time. Hat tip to Vimeo user CTD3 for filming and posting this video and lots more.

Updated: Vimeo user CTD3 is none other than Us Folk host Chris Darling. Thanks Chris!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Trio Carpion - Ashkenazi roots music

Anyone who's read Teruah for a while knows that I have a fondness for music that is cranky, squawky, and a bit discombobulated. Hence my love of punk music and street corner klezmer. Imagine my delight when I whacked "Tsip-Tsapikl," one of the MP3's on the Trio Carpion's website, and was rewarded with one of the most delightful bits of kersplattery I've heard in a while. Off-kilter Yiddish vocals stuttering over a languid violin, a bumping euphonium supporting a swirly-twirly accordion. What a glorious mess. And the other tracks are just as lovely (to my ears). De Geneyve has a grinding, lurching, pulse and that counterbalancing lovely violin. 10 seconds into the song and I'm in a dark noisy bar in pre-war Prague raising a glass to someone at the next table. Hoy! L'Chaim! Another song. It's not late yet.

De Geneyve


Dortn, Dortn

Ok. I'm an excitable guy, I'll admit it. But this is great stuff. Trio Carpion is an Israeli group made up of vocalist and accordionist Avishai Fisz, violinist Daniel Hoffman, and multi-instrumentalist and euphonium player Gershon Waiserfirer. Here's how they describe themselves
Taking its name from the talking carp of Jewish folk legend, Trio Carpion is Ashkenazi roots music at its best- a new Israeli ensemble performing the lush and evocative early 20th century repertoire from the Eastern European Jewish world as well as new compositions. Trio Carpion specializes in pre-war Yiddish and Romanian songs and the Eastern style of klezmer music rarely heard in Israel.
I did a bit of a doubletake when I saw the band list. Fisz and Waiserfirer are new to me. I don't think I've heard them before, though I'll be keeping my ears out for them. Daniel Hoffman, though, I'm very familiar with. He's the band-leader for Davka, one of my favorite Jewish music groups and the composer of the recent Theatre J musical "David in Shadow and Light". I love Hoffman's playing and am delighted to find another one of his projects.

The Trio is touring and working on their first recording. If you're a festival promoter, give them a yell. They'd love to play in your city.

See relate posts: Davka & Kitka, David in Shadow and Light, a new musical, More on David in Shadow and Light.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Klezmer Kamp 2007 goes online

In the movie version of my life, I'm played by someone a lot better looking, wear much more stylish clothes, and am seen at all the cool parties. There are a lot of Jewish music parties I'd like to be seen at this year. I've already missed Hanashira, the Jewish Songleaders Workshop, Shalshelet - International Festival of New Jewish Liturgical Music is later this week, the summer Jewish Music festival season is in full swing, and setting the way-back machine to December, I've missed KlezKamp.

Someday I'll get there, but for now I'll make do with the great set of the 2007 Klez Kamp videos that have been posting to YouTube. There are well over a dozen, including the Mandolin Orchestra (see below), Carpathian Jewish Wedding music, dance performances, a Youth Orchestra, an "Electric Klezmer" group, and traditional ensembles. Check 'em out.

KlezKamp 2007 - Mandolin Orchestra

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Hazanim - The Organization of Israeli Cantors

The cantor R. Moshe Gavra at chupa ceremony.One of my pals on the Klezmershack mailing list recently pointed me to Hazanim - The Organization of Israeli Cantors. According to their 'Objectives' statement Hazanim wishes to
"To serve as a platform that can express and publicize the traditions of song and piyut of the Jewish Sephardi heritage throughout Israel and the entire world. To strengthen and enhance contacts between cantors and various Jewish communities in Israel and abroad. To provide an opportunity for cantors and singers of piyutim to distribute their creations to the public. We turn to our Creator with the prayer that our doings shall not fail and all our deeds be implemented for the sake of Heaven and hope soon to be privileged to hear the music played and sung by the Levites in the Holy Temple to be built and founded speedily in our times, AMEN."
The English version of the website has contact information and musical samples from 15 or so Israeli Sephardi cantors, along with samples and ordering information for a few albums. The musical samples are lovely and worth sharing. Here are a couple, check out the Hazanim website for the rest.

Shamati Shimacha sung by Cantor Meir Abud from the album 'Moadim Songs'

Shamaati by Cantor Didi Shlomo

Friday, June 6, 2008

Shavuot To Go -

I'm a sucker for viral videos. I forcibly restrain myself from emailing them around, but I figure y'all are fair game.

Here's a good one on the topic of Shavuot. I give it a B in viralness (or should that be viralocity?). It's a shameless plug for Yeshiva University's Torah Online program, which has lots of shuir (lectures) on Shavuot and other topics.

Shavuot To Go

They should have, and didn't, given credit to the artists. I'll see if I can track down the info.

UPDATE: Someone left a note in the comments section that the artist is: shlomo katz

Hat tip to YouTube user silbermintz for posting the video.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Groyse Metsie: Live at the Indica Pub

Groyse MetsieI'm having fun this week with the Internet Archive. It's a real treasure trove of free music, the only problem is that it's tricky to embed in my blog posts. I'm not sure if the Benny Bell music I posted on Monday is playable.

Anyway, I'm trying again. This time with a live set by the Israeli "progressive klezmer" band Groyse Metsie. Here's their puff description.... "From the depths of the jewish "Nigunim" melodies out of the jewish tradition of kabbalah. A Groyse Metsie skillfuly combines touching acoustic solo pieces, breakbit and funky grooves, trip hop ambience and rock and roll power with the soulful fire of klezmer jewish music. " (I love these things).

These guys remind me of American avant-jazz-klez groups like Hasidic New Wave. Good stuff and well worth the listen. This recording is from their show at the Indica Pub in Israel. It's available for download at the Internet Archive.

UPDATE: Ok. That didn't work. You can listen to the Indica show at the Internet Archive page. As a consolation prize, here's a video of Groyse Mestie playing their song "Hey!" on Israeli TV.

Groyse Metsie live on Sport 5 - Hey !

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Benny Bell - "Shaving Cream"

Benny Bell 'Shaving Cream' Album CoverTrolling around a bit more on the "Free Albums Galore" blog, I found a nice post about Jewish comedian and musician Benny Bell. According to the Jewish Sound Archive's Benny Bell page, Bell was

"[o]ne of the first to create comedy albums in Yiddish, ... [h]is popular “Pincus the Peddler” character was created in 1946 and featured American songs with a Yiddish flavor, a combination which proved to be a big hit in immigrant neighborhoods.... As the first half of the 20th century passed, so did the interest in Yiddish comedy. The 1950s were difficult .... [b]ut when a syndicated LA disc jockey began using Benny Bell’s song “Shaving Cream” as his theme song in the 1970’s, it renewed interest in his earlier recordings from the 1930s. “Shaving Cream” was eventually reissued, selling almost a million copies."

Here are the lyrics (from wikipedia)
ARTISTS: Benny Bell with Paul Wynn TITLE: Shaving Cream Lyrics by Benny Bell

I have a sad story to tell you It may hurt your feelings a bit Last night when I walked into my bathroom I stepped in a big pile of


Shaving cream, be nice and clean Shave everyday and you'll always look keen

I think I'll break off with my girlfriend Her antics are queer I'll admit Each time I say, "Darling, I love you" She tells me that I'm full of


Our baby fell out of the window You'd think that her head would be split But good luck was with her that morning She fell in a barrel of


It goes on from there, but you get the idea. Anyway, Marvin from Free Albums Galore noted that the Internet Archive has "The Collected Works of Benny Bell" available for online listening or free download.

If this isn't enough for you, the Judaica Sound Archives has a shaving cream load of Bell. They've got 17 albums, including the wonderful "Pincus The Peddler"

Monday, June 2, 2008

Manguina's Ot Azoï on Jamendo

I got an email from my friend Daniel today pointing me to this cool "acoustic flamenco klezmer" album. He found it on the great music blog "Free Albums Galore," which tracks albums made freely available for download by their artists. According to Marvin, the author of the blog post,
"Manguina is an impressive ensemble of musicians specializing in primarily Jewish traditional folk music . I say “primarily” because other world musics tend to blend in occasionally, including Flamenco and other European traditional styles. The thirteen tracks offer both instrumentals and vocals but I find the instrumentals, such as the opening “Dettmar’s freilac” and the title tune to be the most exhilarating. Of the vocal tracks, I really like “Kholem et airs russes” which sounds quite Middle Eastern to me. If you are looking for that Flamenco influence, try “Yo m’enamori d’un aire” or “Cuando el rey Nimrod”. This is an exceptional traditional music album"

Manguina is distributing Ot Azoï via the music download service Jamendo. This is the first time I've run across Jamendo and I'm impressed. A lot of good music and a nice set of tools, including the music player below, for making my life easier.