New Budapest Orpheum Society,
Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano
(Cedille, 2002)

Dancing on the Edge of a Volcano is an innovative historical package filled with American-Jewish music, featuring popular and political songs from Jewish cabaret. The origin of the music ranges from 1900 to 1945.

The songs range from ballads to folk songs such as "Viennese Coachman's Song," as well as Zionist pioneer songs such as "Bring the Bricks" and "We Beheld Our Toil." Songs like "There Comes Peace" are particularly relevant today. Some songs, like "Do a Little Dreaming," deal with the question of tradition versus modern life.

The music overall is bright and upbeat, although all the songs are in Yiddish, their original language. With 26 tracks on two discs, there is plenty of music for everyone.

The CDs come with an incredibly detailed booklet, with 43 pages of history and background to the music, as well as a detailed bibliography. After that appear lyrics to every song in both Yiddish and English. The performers are cantors and Jewish musical directors, as well as opera stars and everything in between. The New Budapest Orpheum Society has revived this tradition of Jewish cabaret in order to share the old songs with a new generation, and offer them again to the people who loved them years ago.

- Rambles
written by Valerie Frankel
published 21 June 2003