The klezmer base is there, unmistakeable, on drummer Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh
, but a bunch of other influences wail into the sound, too. For example, guitarist Brad Shepik lends a punk rock feeling to the opener, "Kleyzmish Moshpit." The title alone gives a big hint of what to expect. A mosh pit with Jewish leanings? I can't say, never having experienced a mosh pit in any form; but to these ears it sounds like Jimi Hendrix in a yarmulke, cutting loose.
Then there's the textures: two drummersAlexander and Michael Sarindriving the rhythm, weaving a tighter web than you encounter with most klezmer sounds; reed player Greg Wall; clarinetist Merlin Shepard; trumpeter Frank London; trombonist and guitarist Curtis Hasselbring; and bassist Fima Ephron.
"Radical Jewish Culture" is a phrase coined to tag the music on John Zorn's Tzadik label, and the collection has offered some excellent stuff, including Steven Bernstein's Diaspora Hollywood
; Charming Hostess' Sarajevo Blues
; Greg Wall's Later Prophets
; and Septeto Rodriguez's marvelous Baila! Gitano Baila!
, to name just a few. Midrash Mish Mosh
has old rootsEastern European folk music, to be specificto which it adds the bright new branchings of punk rock and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time-like free jazz esthetic.
In its pure form, klezmer has a very free-wheeling, often madcap quality, sinuous clarinet and violin lines snaking around each other with frenetic energy. On Midrash Mish Mosh
Alexander has created a beefier sound with denser rhythms and a feeling of forward-moving modernity. All compositions are from Alexander's pen, idiosyncratic and quirky sounds, a Hasidic 21st Century Dixieland of sorts. Original, energetic, and different from pretty much anything you'll hear out there.
Visit Aaron Alexander
on the web.
Personnel: Merlin Shepard--clarinet; Greg Wall--tenor and soprano saxes and clarinet; Frank London--trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring--trombone, gitar; Brad Shepik--guitar; Fima Ephron--bass; Michael Sarin--drums; Aaron Alexander--drums. Special Guest: Randy Crafton--rik on track 5