You Should Be So Lucky! - High Energy and Sophistication
Long a great favourite in my personal CD collection, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band's You Should Be So Lucky!, originally released in 1996 on the Shanachie label, presents the listener with one problem - it leaves him positively craving to hear more of this exceptional band's highly infectious music!
On You Should Be So Lucky, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band present a characteristically eclectic mix of traditional klezmer tunes and Yiddish folk, theatre and cabaret song as well as a popular swing standard actually based on a klezmer tune, and also references to popular standards and popular classics. All this they do with great aplomb and sophistication and just the right mix of exuberant high energy and restraint, in their inimitable and equally eclectic big band style that incorporates elements of traditional big band klezmer, Yiddish Swing and Yiddish American popular music of roughly the 1930s to 1950s, and Big Band Swing, as well as flavours of Dixieland and blues. A few of the tracks were recorded live in concert but blend seamlessly with the rest of the album which manages to convey an atmosphere of fun, enjoyment, even excitement, throughout.
Right from the first few beats of the opening track, Mazl Tov Dances, you just want to jump onto your feet and dance along. Maxwell Street project a great immediacy in their music, and it is as if the listener were present at a live performance, either in concert or at a dance. The boundless energy and enthusiasm of this band, that obviously enjoys itself hugely, is not only abundantly evident but moreover matched by exceptional musicianship, talent, sensitivity, and total empathy among its members who really give their all. Alex Koffman's brilliant arrangements provide a solid foundation for Maxwell Street to build their performances upon, and he's also something of a demon of a fiddler.
It would be impossible to pick any real favourites on an album that is so consistent throughout and does not have a single weak track. All the same, mention must be made of the old Benny Goodman classic And The Angels Sing by trumpeter Ziggy Elman, based upon the klezmer tune Der Shtiler Bulgar. This has been one of my favourites from long before I ever became aware of klezmer music, but with Maxwell Street's version, I now have a new favourite recording of it. Yes, the angels do indeed sing! And swing! And not on this track alone. All the vocals are absolutely fabulous throughout You Should Be So Lucky!, effortless-sounding, clear, with perfect diction, and a wonderful mix of earthiness and sophistication.
Maxwell Street Klezmer Band's You Should Be So Lucky! should be in any good klezmer collection, and indeed any good music collection. If you like great music, or just good music, this album is for you. If you like adventurous and inventive music that isn't so merely for the sake of it, then this album is for you. Above all, this album's fun, great fun, and hugely enjoyable. And the Angels sing. They do. Really.
© 2003 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.