I’m on holiday, so to keep the blog alive I’m posting some stuff from my archive. This is from July 2007, when the Jewish Chronicle launched their Klezmer Idol competition, and is a review of the competitors.
Beskydy make heartfelt traditional Klezmer. More impressive than the tracks on the JC website are their rendering of Israeli wedding classic Erev Shel Shoshamin (a fragment of which can be listened to here) and Zapevvala Sojka Ptica (here). Their music has an old-timey feel, dominated by the weeping, slightly scratchy violin. Shir are also quite old-style, and they also do Israeli folk music. You can listen to more of their music on their website.
The Solomon Sisters‘ Yiddish caberet shtick doesn’t appeal to me, kind of kitschy Jewish version of the Puppini Sisters. Again, their own website has (samples of) better tracks, including Chornia [mp3], which has a kind of mitteleuropa cafe vibe, Odessa [mp3], which is quite soulful and instrumental.
Klezmer KollectiV are described on the JC page and the band’s MySpace page as borrowing heavily from the “hotclub” jazz style of Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli, but that’s not in evidence from the tracks available there, which are pretty straightahead klezmer. I prefer Matzos, whose music has a certain intensity about it.
Also very good are Moishe’s Bagel, whose album Salt looks worth buying. Tantz Glassidic[mp3] is a clever Phillip Glass pastiche. You can also download Sidi-kasem, la Bonhomie [mp3]from their website. Overall, their sound mixes Jewish music with chamber music, Modern Jazz Quartet, and a little bit Latin.
K-Groove are enjoyable, fusing Jewish music with other traditions. Reggae Freilach [mp3]starts out (I think) as a doina, moving into a slow and sultry reggae groove and then picks up tempo. The reggae sounds slightly contrived and casio keyboardish to me, especially as it gets faster. Smoked Salmon Salsa [mp3] works far better as a synthesis and is probably my favourite track.