Metropolitan Klezmer,
Live: Traveling Show
(Rhythm Media, 2007)

Klezmer is popular Jewish music drawn largely from previous eras, although there has been a resurgence in the last few decades. Like the Yiddish language, klezmer has been influenced by many regions of the world.

Metropolitan Klezmer shows the diversity of the music in these live tracks, nine of which are medleys. Many are dance tunes, including "Uncle Moses' Wedding Dance" and "C Minor Bulgar/Ken O'Hara Freylekhs." These are like polkas, featuring accordion and tuba, with a sprightly dance beat. There are also Yiddish tangos "Shpil du Fidl, Shpil (Play, You Fiddle, Play)" and "Muzikalisher Tango." All have a slightly cartoonish sound, in that they are happy and move at a fast clip.

Klezmer differs from other polka by using the clarinet as a lead instrument and often sounding Middle Eastern. Violinist Michael Hess switches to the end-blown ney flute for "Ney Taxim & Tailor's Sher." The eight-piece group also has a trumpeter, trombone player and drummer, with the tuba player doubling on acoustic bass.

There are also tracks with vocals by Deborah Karpel. They include "Pick a Pocket or Two" from Oliver!, the "klezmogrified" Broadway of "Guys & Dolls & Bagles," and their own version of "The Driedel Song," called "Traveling Dreydls." Karpel sings plaintively on "Mayn Rue Plats (My Resting Place)" and "Hasidic Niga/Poor Man's Tune."

Some of the tunes start slowly and build to a fast climax, particularly the seven- and eight-minute "Mainly Rumanian Finale" and "Encore: Abi Gezunt Medley/Klezmerengue." Both begin as stately dances and build to an almost frenzied climax.

The last song is the jazzy "Comes Love" by Isle of Klezbos, who are the female members of Metropolitan Klezmer with a guest accordion and bassist. A booklet that comes with the CD gives a background of each of the 19 tracks.

Metropolitan Klezmer is highly skilled, but with a sense of humor. Traveling Show works equally well as an introduction of klezmer or as a treat for those who already love the music.

[ visit the artist's website ]

review by
Dave Howell

17 November 2007

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