Greetings from... The Isle Of Klezbos
At last it's here - the long and eagerly awaited solo debut album from all female band, The Isle Of Klezbos! Released in May on the Rhythm Media label in the US, Greetings From The Isle of Klezbos is finally also available in the UK, distributed by Stern's Music.
Those who have heard these dynamic ladies either live or on Metropolitan Klezmer's previous album Mosaic Persuasion doubtless expect much from Isle of Klezbos' solo debut recording. Greetings from The Isle of Klezbos will not disappoint - it's something quite special. It's the eclectic blend of genres and styles, of traditional klezmer, Middle Eastern, swing, Balkan, Mediterranean, that one has practically come to expect from Eve Sicular led ensembles, with more than generous doses of verve, charm and elegant sophistication. Isle of Klezbos absolve themselves with great aplomb and style on their debut album, and with impeccable musicianship and tight ensemble playing. The arrangements are as elegant and sophisticated as ever.
Of the fourteen tracks, three were recorded live, and these blend in very well with the rest of the album. The opener, Houdini Hora, is a gentle, lilting processional Hora from the Rumanian tradition. Isle of Klezbos here treat it sensitively as ever with just the right amount of restraint and subtlety. It takes you right back to another time, another place. Goldene Khasene, a popular favourite, goes straight for your feet with its high energy. (Help! We badly need some sort of Yiddish dance workshops in the UK!) Revery in Hijaz takes its title from the classical Arabic maqam (mode) of that name, which closely corresponds to the Freygish (Phrygian) mode of klezmer (in liturgical music also referred to as Ahava Raba, after the prayer opening with those words with which it is associated). Revery... is a Terkisher dance, based on a theme within a tune recorded by tsimblist (cymbalom player) Joseph Moskowitz in 1916. Dreamy and reflective as its title suggests, Pam Fleming stands out with her muted trumpet through its incredibly delicate subtlety on this track. Klezbos Kolomeyke, another dance tune, starts off sedately, getting ever livelier and quite irresistible to the feet. A Doina or Doyna, originally a Rumanian shepherd's lament that developed into a rhapsodic improvisatory form that from about the late 19th century (C.E.) started to replace the Arabic/Turkish improvisatory form of the taqsim or taksim in klezmer, Rachelle's Doyna Indigo leads into the next track, Klezmerengue. Klezmer with a Hispanic Caribbean touch (the Merengue is a popular dance form originally from the Dominican Republic widespread throughout the Caribbean), Klezmerengue is irresistible in both its liveliness and charm and is based on the Yiddish theatre song Yosl, Yosl and its similarity to a merengue party tune, Carna Brava (Wild Crane). Abrah is a Debra Kreisberg original inspired by the more meditative type of klezmer tunes as well as modern acoustic Brazilian music, reflecting both sadness and strength, somewhat subdued but with a strong underlying groove. There is almost something of the "cool" of Bossa about this charming piece in its easy-going, laid-back style. A classic from the Yiddish cinema from 1940, Unter Beymer is a lullaby, rendered sensitively by Deborah Karpel. An Eve Sicular original, East Hapsburg Waltz starts out with an Old World, eastern Austro-Hungary feel, melancholy rather than Viennese-exhuberant, and goes on to explore anxiety, menace, humour, even the unexpected, with a hint of Beethoven here and a touch of The Godfather there. A sophisticated blend, this piece could be sub-titled "A musical exploration of the classic Austro-Hungarian neurosis" - Freud himself might have been delighted. Szol a Kakas Mar comes from the Hungarian folk tradition as well as the Hassidic tradition and is the first of the three live tracks. A gorgeous extended rhapsodic opening leads into an ever livelier dance, and this leads on to another live track, Revery Reprise, the debut performance of Revery of track three of this album. I find it impossible to choose one version over the other, each possesses its own particular charm. Father's Cadenzas is essentially two improvised solo rubato preludes, one on trumpet the other on clarinet, anticipating in their chord structure the nigun, My Father's Nigun, that follows. The closer, which is also the final live track, is a superb medley opening with an accordion Doyna by Rachelle Garniez. This leads seamlessly into An Alter Nigun which in turn leads into Yiddish theatre star Molly Picon's signature song, Abi Gezunt, in a supremely laid-back and sophisticated example of "Yiddish Swing", greatly enhanced by the wonderful live atmosphere here.
The informative liner notes by Eve Sicular include the lyrics for songs in Yiddish, romanised Yiddish, as well as English translation, also by Eve Sicular.
Greetings from The Isle of Klezbos is as fine a debut album as any band could wish for. You're bound to enjoy this musical vacation on The Isle. Bask in this glorious heat and sunshine, enjoy the cool refreshing breeze... Me, I'm going for an extension!
© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.
1. Houdini Hora (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 2:50
2. Goldene Khasene [Golden Wedding] (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 2:56
3. Revery in Hijaz (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 4:29
4. Klezbos Kolomeyke (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 3:55
5. Rachelle's Doyna Indigo (arr. Rachelle Garniez & Isle of Klezbos) - 1:51
6. Klezmerengue ((arr. Rachelle Garniez & Isle of Klezbos; Yosl, Yosl by Nellie Casman) - 1:18
7. Abrah (Debra Kreisberg) - 5:27
8. Unter Beymer [Beneath the Trees] (Olshanetsky/Oysher, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 2:45
9. East Hapsburg Waltz (Eve Sicular, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 3:17
10. Szol a Kakas Mar [The Rooster Crows] (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) (live) - 4:11
11. Revery Reprise (live) - 3:24
12. Father's Cadenzas (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 3:37
13. My Father's Nigun (Traditional, arr. Isle of Klezbos) - 1:19
14. Doyna/An Alter Nigun [An Old Tune]/Abi Gezunt (Doyna: Rachelle Garniez; An Alter Nigun: trad.,
arr. Eve Sicular/Isle of Klezbos; Abi Gezunt: Picon/Ellstein, arr. Isle of Klezbos/Metropolitan
Klezmer) (live) - 7:39