Stewart Curtis, his K-Groove and the producers at 33Jazz apparently wanted to make an album of Klezmer music. Nothing wrong with that except they may have had a concern about how many fans would be attracted to a straight Klezmer CD. To assure greater appeal, they came up with a hybrid called Klezmer fusion where Yiddish traditional music was married to rock and other contemporary music rhythms. The result is predictable, this album may not appeal to fans of either kind of music.
Most of the items on the play list are established Yiddish melodies. Add to this one Greek and one Arab tunes along with a couple of Curtis originals for a pretty balanced program. But it's in the arrangements where the program's promise fails to materialize. "Sunrise Sunstroke" fits with the traditional Klezmer sound as it combines a melancholy flavor with an up tempo beat. But even there, Curtis and group have managed to muddle things up with periodic out of place insertions like back beats and sounds produced the keyboards (including an organ sound!) accompanied by a cloying soprano sax. Paul Jayasinha's trumpet strives mightily to sustain the tradition, despite the extraneous incursions. This version is a far cry from the 1973 rendition by the wonderful Greek singer, Nana Mouskouri. "Mo's Hacksaw", a hymn sung to celebrate the Yiddish festival of Chanukah, is played with the predictable a rock beat and to my ears, was barely recognizable. On the credit side, "Sketches of Chrane", a traditional song sung by Jewish husbands to their wives on the eve of the Sabbath, comes close to the Yiddish/Klezmer musical tradition, with Curtis' flute leading the way. This group stays Yiddishness one expects with this music as it builds in the minds' eye a scene with bearded men in Yamalkuhs prancing around their wives as they serenade them. This track works well, or at least better than most on this CD. Strangely, the traditional instrument of Klezmer, the crying clarinet, is heard rarely on this session. It's prominent on "A Pint of Cherry and a Packet of Crisps Please" and, appropriately, on "Klap Hands Here Comes Klezmer". The rest of the program has similar mixed results.
This album is for those who are musically attuned to fusion Klezmer, whomever you are.
Track Listing: A Pint of Cherry Bandy and a Packet of Crisps Please; South of Croydon; Sunrise Sunstroke; Mo's Hacksaw; Sketches of Chrane; Klap Hands Here Comes Klezmer; Often Bounce a Cheque; Oom-Cha Land; Smoked Salmon Salsa; Chicken Soup with Spots; Song for Madeleine
Personnel: Stewart Curtis - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute, Piccolo; Paul Jayasinha - Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion; Eran Kendler - Electric & Acoustic Guitar; Rob Terry - Keyboards, Acoustic Piano; Brad Lang - Electric Basses; Satin Singh - Percussion; Hans Ferrao - Drums