David Krakauer & Socalled
with Klezmer Madness,
Lies My Gramma Told Me

(Label Bleu, 2005)

David Krakauer is meshugeh (that's "crazy" in Yiddish). But he had a great chochmeh (idea) with this CD. Bubbemeises combines the traditional world of klezmer with the modern one of beats and samples. Despite the use of electronics, the music here never loses its roots. And if you didn't know, bubbee, klezmer is more or less the Jewish version of polka music.

Krakauer is a leading player of klezmer clarinet. A former member of the Klezmatics, he has also appeared with many well-known classical groups and orchestras.

On some tunes -- like the party song "The Electric Sher" -- he is backed by his Klezmer Madness group of accordion, electric guitar, bass and drums. On "Ms N.C.," he plays mellow, rich tones accompanied only by a guitar.

Others are like "B Flat a La Socalled," where Krakauer plays frenetically over loops of guitar, bass and percussion. "Moskovitz & Loops of It" uses a traditional-sounding melody with looping (at least that is what the title seems to indicate). "Turntable Pounding" mixes the clarinet with samples of a male chorus.

Socalled, who is credited with sampler and sequencer, uses organic sounds, so the music maintains a natural feel. It is often difficult to distinguish the "live" musicians from the effects.

Socalled raps on the title track about warnings his grandmother gave him about traditional subjects like chicken soup and self-abuse. His storytelling fits in surprisingly well with the klezmer background music.

Only a nudnick would be put off by the modern technology. If this helps popularize the wonderful sounds of klezmer, Zol Zein!

by Dave Howell
7 April 2007

Buy it from Amazon.com.