I should like to start this review with a preamble, in the form of a great big "thank you" to the artist for getting this CD to me across the Atlantic with incredible speed despite the annual madness of the winter Holiday period (I had just "discovered" this new release and could hardly contain myself to get my grubby little fingers on it,
for reasons that will become clear in a moment or two), but most of all for the wonderful, delightful music on this album.
To anybody who hasn't heard Adrianne Greenbaum's new album yet, and anybody who loves good music in general or Jewish music or klezmer music in particular, may I urge you to "beg, steal, or borrow", or preferably buy (and thereby support a wonderful musician and hopefully encourage and enable her to let us continue to enjoy her talents in the form of continuing recordings) this splendid album, FleytMuzik, and hear for yourself. Mere words are rather inadequate to do this album justice. Nonetheless, I shall endeavour to do my best here.
FleytMuzik to me is the most exciting new klezmer recording (at any rate, of those that I have heard) since the old Jewish Klezmer Music by Zev Feldman, Andy Statman and Marty Confurius (the latter of whom also features on this album) in the 1970s. It is fresh, refreshing, marvellously joyous and soulful at once - it's everything the best klezmer music, and the best music per se, should be, music that not only the ears listen to but the heart as well, and music that speaks to and delights both.
Not only that (and this is the reason I was so particularly keen to hear this recording), but this album also finally restores the flute to its once prominent role in European klezmer music, together with the tsimbl (or hammered dulcimer or cimbalon) - both some of my favourite instruments. Furthermore, one must bear in mind that in restoring the flute as a lead instrument throughout, FleytMuzik is as revolutionary a recording as the same Jewish Klezmer Music referred to above was in its time, a true milestone in kleamer recordings. In keeping with the authentic recreation of the performance of klezmer music in the late 19th/early 20th centuries in the Eastern European tradition which this album achieves seemingly so effortlessly, not only is the flute the principal lead but also, Adrianne Greenbaum plays on an assortment of period wooden flutes of wonderfully rich timbre.
Somebody on the Jewish Music Mailing List remarked that Ms. Greenbaum could be called the Andy Statman of the klezmer flute. I should like to extend that comparison a lot further by stating that my personal "rogues' gallery" of outstanding flautists, regardless of genre and in no particular order, so far consisting of Jean Pierre Rampal, Herbie Mann, Yusef Lateef, and Hubert Laws, has been extended by one. Adrianne Greenbaum is undoubtedly one of the finest, most outstandingly gifted contemporary flautists it has been this reviewer's pleasure to hear.
The rest of the ensemble are certainly not short of excellence, either, and I'm particularly struck (no pun intended!) also by Joshua Horowitz's tsimbl. Cookie Segelstein on fidl (violin) doesn't fail to impress either, and of course neither does bassist Marty Confurius, a true "veteran" of the "klezmer revival" who appeared on what to my knowledge was the first modern "early music type" klezmer recording, 1979's Jewish Klezmer Music referred to earlier. A finer small ensemble won't be easy to find, and flute, violin, tsimbl and bass make for a supremely delightful combination in themselves.
The tracks of FleytMuzik are grouped into little "suites", following the practice of the period. Amongst them, I would find it impossible to pick any particular favourite/s - I love them all, all tracks are equally delightful, equally strong, each in their own way. This is one of those relatively rare beasts, an album that doesn't have a single track that is relatively weaker than the rest or that misses, it is beautifully consistent throughout. Two original compositions by Adrianne Greenbaum further add to the delight of this album and should make a splendid addition to the general repertory as well.
It would be difficult to sufficiently praise also the sleeve notes and overall presentation, they are absolutely superb and it's immediately obvious that a lot of thought and meticulous planning, care and hard work went into these, even down to the choice of the paper for the booklet. There's another nice touch to the presentation in the form of a piece of twig (or dried reed?) inside the clear tray of the CD jewel case.
All in all, Adrianne Greenbaum's FleytMuzik is music of great charm and beauty, in turn so joyous you'll want to jump up and dance, and reflective, contemplative, even sad, and running the whole gamut of the emotions in between.
Go buy this album if you can and enjoy it - go on, treat yourself!
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