Jim Guttmann: Bessarabian Breakdown (2010)
Classicists, among them Gustav Mahler, and modernists like Aaron Copland and Leonard Bernstein, have been influenced by klezmer's infectious rhythmic cycles. George Gershwin acknowledged the klezmer clarinet when he wrote "Rhapsody in Blue," and the glorious parallels between Brasilian choro and other Latin forms of music are authentic. Indeed this makes klezmer truly approachable and a genuine influence on much of today's music across all sensibilities and forms.
This must account for the growing popularity of the music. Jim Guttmann makes that point rather obliquely on this album, which rearranges some of the most outstanding songs in klezmer repertoire. Guttmann, of course, puts such an original stamp on this music that he virtually makes it all his own. With firm and authoritative accents from his bass and superbly original arrangements for pianist Art Bailey, clarinetistsamong them Alex Kontorovichand trumpeters, who shine in the band that Guttmann fronts, this album swings brightly and sobs eloquently when it must. Additionally there is the repertoire itself.
The wonderful quick step is set in motion with "Philadelphia Sher," and the brisk, 2/4 song sets proceedings alight. Ziggy Elman and Johnny Mercer's "And the Angels Sing" is a swaggering vehicle for the resonating bass of Guttmann. The bassist has a fine sense of melodic wing and at times recalls the fascinating swing of Ray Brown. Art Bailey shares the stage with Guttmann with a short, but harmonically memorable solo here as well. Guttmann returns on "Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym" for a fascinating, brooding solo. And the familiar music of "Bb Freylekhs...," in its exciting 8/8 meter, and "Dark Eyes" are two other tunes that contribute to the unforgettable nature of this album.
Track Listing: Philadelphia Sher; And The Angels Sing; Descarga Gitano; Doyne, Hora, Sirba; Cuando El Rey Nimrod; Bessarabian Breakdown; Sadegurer Chusidl (Take Off That Shmatte); Bb Freylekhs; Dark Eyes (Ochi Chyornye); Beregovski 90: Skocne; Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym.
Personnel: Ted Casher: clarinet; Alex Kontorovich: clarinet; Billy Novick: clarinet; Mark Berney: trumpet; Frank London: trumpet; Mark Hamilton: trombone; Dave Harris: trombone; Joel Springer: tenor saxophone; Tom Hall: baritone saxophone; Mimi Robson: violin; Art Bailey: piano; Evan Harlan: accordion; Jon Damian: guitar; Brandon Seabrook: guitar, mandolin; Birney Stone: guitar; Jim Guttmann: bass; Grant Smith: drums, percussion; Ernesto Diaz: percussion; Manolo Mairena: coro.
Record Label: Self Produced
Style: Modern Jazz