Trumpeter Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars jump-started New York City's globalFEST this past month. The two-day smorgasbord of sound, now in its third sold-out year at Joe's Pub, featured three concurrent stages of the best in world music. London's aggregation included a bevy of brass, clarinets, vocalists, Brazilian percussion ensemble Scott Kettner & Maracatú New York, and the furiously pumping rhythm section of drummer Aaron Alexander and tubaist extraordinaire Ron Caswell. Coupled with London's sweet horn and manic stage presence, the set was a quick-paced run through of the Allstars' latest adventure.
While Brotherhood of Brass (Piranha, 2002) integrated Jewish, Rom and Egyptian band music, Carnival Conspiracy loosely chronicles London's party band, which includes klezmer pros like clarinetists Merlin Shephard and Matt Darriau, along with trumpeter Susan Hoffman Watts, as they make their way to Brazilian carnival. Guests such as the powerful Ukranian vocalist Marjana Sadowska, clarinetists German Goldenshtayn and Margot Leverett, accordionists Rob Curto and Sanne Moericke, vocalist Sarah Gordon, the female vocal group Kol Isha, and two of the most expressive male voices in Jewish music, Lorin Sklamberg and Michael Alpert, add to this nonstop around-the-world brass bash.
Sadowska leads the spirited Ukranian romp "In Your Garden Twenty Fecund Fruit Trees, Sklamberg lends his gorgeous voice to the Yiddish Blues "Oh Agony, You are So Sweet Like Sugar I Must Eat You Up, and melodious T-bone wizard Curtis Hasselbring comes to the fore on "Another Glass of Wine to give Succor to my Ailing Existence. Alpert and the band turn Yiddish into Spanish without missing a beat for "Midnight Banda Judia before the subtitle cut ratchets things up a notch, setting the stage for Sarah Gordon and Kol Isha to have all join in for a newly lyricised, swaying version of "Who Knows One? .
Another highlight is the master of a thousand klezmer tunes, Moldavian clarinetist German Goldenshtayn, who makes his long-overdue CD debut with a hearfelt doina intro to "Our Ancestors Forty Thousand Years Wide. "Out of What has Maracatú and Alexander combining for a percussively driven tukhus shaker that features a gem of an alto solo from up-and-coming horn player Alex Kontorovich. This, and more, makes for a joyful journey of irreverent humor, inside jokes and high-energy, danceable music.
Track Listing: In Your Garden Twenty Fecund Fruit Trees; Oh Agony, You are so Sweet Like Sugar I Must
to Eat You Up; Another Glass of Wine to Give Succor to My Ailing Existence; Midnight
Banda Judea; In the Marketplace All Is
Subterfuge; Who Knows One?; Pantagruel, Shiker Hindert Prozent; A Time of
Desire--Curha Mix; Our Ancestors Forty Thousand Years Wide; Out of What?; Mi Yamalay;
Borracho # 1 The
Cobbles in the Street Moan for You
Personnel: Frank London: trumpet, peck horn; Susan Hoffman Watts: trumpet; Merlin Shepherd: clarinets; Matt Darriau: clarinet, alto saxophone; Alex Kontorovich: clarinet, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Curtis Hasselbring: trombone, skronk guitar; Jacob Garchik: baritone horn, trombone; Ron Caswell: tuba; Mark Rubin: tuba, baritone horn, tex-mex guitar; Aaron Alexander: drums; Marjana Sadowska: vocals (1); Lorin Sklamberg: vocals (2); Michael Alpert: vocals, poyk (4,9); Sarah Mina Gordon: vocals (6); Alan Matthews, Beyle, Itzik and Esther Gottesman, Paula Teitelbaum: chorus(9); Sanne Moericke: accordion (1,4,5,9); Rob Curto: accordion (3,6-8,10); Danny Blume: guitar(11), Jeff Warschauer: baritone horn (1,9); German Goldenshtayn: clarinet (9); Margot Leverett: clarinet (11); Randy Crafton: percussion (7); Scott Kettner & Maracatú New York (6,7,8,10), Kol Isha (4,6,8,9,11).
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already
I was first exposed to jazz circa 1973, when I met a fellow who ran Kappy's Record Store over near 10th Ave., on 42nd St. in NYC. We really clicked and when I told him I played piano and went to Music & Art HS, and had just started at City College of NY as a music major, he asked if I liked jazz...I said yes but I didn't know much about it, but that I did have sheet music for many popular 1920's through 1940's tunes by noted composers (Porter; Gershwins; Irving Berlin; Rodgers & Hammerstein/Hart; Jerome Kern; Lerner & Loewe; etc.) that my mother had sung beautifully starting in the 1940's including tons of famous show tunes, and I played many of those songs already. SOOOO... he started me off LP's by Oscar Peterson, Art Tatum, Bud Powell, Errol Garner, Bill Evans, Monty Alexander, Charlie Byrd, and Dave Brubeck... does it get any better than that? ...No, it doesn't. I was hooked!!
I met and had a master class with the late music giant John Lewis, leader of the Modern Jazz Quartet! This was at CCNY in 1977. I was blessed! It was an incredible class... how could it have been anything else?!?!
The first jazz record I bought was...I bought numerous records from my friend at the record store, as mentioned above. He introduced me to nothing but music giants/legends! I think The Dave Brubeck Quartet, Greatest Hits, was actually the first one.
My advice to new listeners... study first--understand the rudiments--solfeggio, keys, scales, and basic chords. Read a book or take a class that includes the study of chord progressions, especially in jazz. It should ideally be a piano class so you can play multiple notes together. Have a good EAR or else it's not really worth it in my view...to become a musician, a good EAR for music is about as fundamental as breathing! Learn to read chord charts--i.e., lead sheets - wherein you play various voicings of the chords--major, minor, dominant 7th (alterations of these, you can learn over time - the basic chords are most important for starters), plus the melody, on the piano or keyboard. If you have to read the exact notes, then it's not the same as actually internalizing it & getting it all into your head. If you can do this, I think you're ready not only for listening to jazz, but understanding many concepts of it! Of course...anyone can listen to jazz... but I think it's so good to also have a grasp of it.