Meshugeh? What Are You, Crazy?
Yiddishe Cup was formed back in 1988, and their third album, Meshugeneh Mambo, has just been released. They base their material mainly on classic 1950s klezmer comedy by the greats of that genre such as the unforgettable Mickey Katz and The Barton Brothers but add a new dimension by bringing the genre up to date. Yiddishe Cup call it "neo-Borscht Belt klezmer comedy", or "ethnic comedy for people who aren't ethnic anymore."
On Meshugeneh Mambo, Yiddishe Cup prove themselves one of the most original bands on the contemporary klezmer scene. Their sound is mostly thoroughly contemporary, and the music often includes modern, including 1960s or later (non-klezmer/non-Jewish) musical quotes. Yiddishe Cup's lyrics are also often updated and both original and very funny. The whole thing is put together in great, inimitable style. It is absolutely wonderful to hear how Yiddishe Cup not only revive the marvelous tradition of klezmer comedy but bring it into the present time, giving it new relevance.
I really would not want to spoil anybody's fun and enjoyment of this superb album by going into individual tracks in detail and giving away the punchline as it were, Yiddishe Cup's Meshugeneh Mambo is far too delightful and delicious for that. This album had me in stitches, with both its verbal as well as musical wit and humour. The excellence of the musical and comedy performance is outstanding, and this is just fabulous music as well. Bert Stratton and his co-conspirators Irwin Weinberger, Steve Ostrow, Alan Douglass, Don Friedman and Daniel Ducoff are a great team that clicks, and musically, they could turn their considerable skills just as well to any kind of "straight" music as comedy. All members of Yiddishe Cup are very versatile multi-instrumentalists, and the vocals are superb too. I can't help singling out Alan Douglass' theremin here and its humorous rendition of... well, no, wait for it and be surprised.
One should of course never judge a book, or an album, by its cover, but Yiddishe Cup's Meshugeneh Mambo's just shouts out meshugeh, and the guys look the part. The liner notes also fill you in with useful little snippets about the tracks.
Yiddishe Cup's Meshugeneh Mambo is the funniest klezmer comedy since the days of the great Mickey Katz, and I suspect he would have thoroughly approved. And just like Katz's recordings, it is also musically just as outstanding. Oh, and you really don't have to be Jewish to appreciate and enjoy the humour of Yiddishe Cup's Meshugeneh Mambo.
And nu? What you waiting for? Get off your tukhes and mambo! But get the album foist!
© 2004 Rainlore's World of Music/Rainlore. All rights reserved.
1. Meshugeneh Mambo (Crazy Mambo) (Slim Gaillard, add. music & lyrics Alan Douglass) - 2:58
2. My Yiddishe Mama (My Jewish Mother) (J. Yellen, L. Pollack) - 3:55
3. Tsuris (Troubles) (Mickey Katz, add. sketches Bert Stratton) - 3:14
4. Trombonik Tanz (Boaster's Dance) (N. Farber, M. Katz) - 3:58
5. Cheder Days (Hebrew School Days) (G. Edwards, W.D. Cobb, M. Katz) - 3:02
6. Gentile On My Mind (Alan Douglass) - 1:40
7. K'nock Around The Clock (J. DeKnight, M. Friedman, M. Katz) - 2:17
8. Play Klezmer Play (Based on Abe Ellstein's Shpil Klezmer Shpil, new lyrics Alan Douglass &
Bert Stratton) - 3:07
9. Second Avenue Square Dance (Abe Ellstein) - 2:52
10. Nudnik The Flying Shisl (Pest The Flying Saucer) (I. Fields, M. Katz) - 3:44
11. I Am A Man Of Constant Blessings (Trad.) - 1:41
12. Li'l Gypsy (Trad.) - 2:35
13. Essen (Eating) (Billy Hodes) - 6:13
14. Ose Shalom (He Makes Peace) (N. Hirsh, R. Neumann, E. Broad) - 2:12
15. Knish Doctor (R. Bagdasarian, M. Katz) - 3:12
Trombonik Tanz arr. by Steve Ostrow
Essen arr. by Yiddishe Cup & Irwin Weinberger
Li'l Gypsy arr. by Yiddishe Cup & Jack Stratton
All other arrangements by Alan Douglass
Bert Stratton - clarinet, tenor sax, harmonica, vocals
Irwin Weinberger - vocals, alto sax, guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro
Steve Ostrow - trombone, trumpet, violin, jew's harp, vocals
Alan Douglass - vocals, keyboards, sequencing, guitar, theremin
Don Friedman - drums, percussion
Daniel Ducoff - shtickmeister (dance leader), slide whistle
Meshugeneh Mambo can be purchased:
From the artists
From Jewish Music Distribution JMD UK
From Hatikvah Music International (US)
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