230

Steven Bernstein: Diaspora Hollywood

By

Sign in to view read count
Picture a couple of Jewish grandpas sitting around cracking jokes. Now imagine a Hollywood starlet from the '50s sauntering into a dimly lit club and you've got Diaspora Hollywood , the third installment of trumpet player Steven Bernstein's Diaspora series on John Zorn's Tzadik label. An ode to pioneering geniuses like Franz Waxman and Max Steiner, the disc salutes the great Jewish film composers who left their chilly Eastern European homelands for the sunny, palm-fringed streets of Los Angeles.

With six traditional tunes, three originals and two cantoral pieces, Diaspora Hollywood is a sophisticated album filled with quirky characters, Semitic melodies and dangerously seductive sounds that recall the era of film noir and beyond.

If film is meant to transport, then music that sounds like a movie and transports on its own is truly successful. Bernstein's original composition "Hollywood Diaspora" epitomizes the term cinematic. You could lie on the couch and just listen to the slow-stepping rhythm and relaxed yet exotically tinged horn amble as visions of marvelously varied landscape pass by.

Menacing numbers like "Yis May Hoo" and "Havenu Shalom Alechum" enchant on multiple levels. Dynamic dialogue between Bernstein's trumpet and any number of Pablo Calogero's horns (baritone sax, bass clarinet and flutes) instigate drama, while the atmospheric tremor of David Piltch's bass, Danny Frankel's drums and D.J. Bonebrake's vibraphones set a suspicious scene.

Piltch's shadowy, propulsive bass line opens "Jehudis Bas Zion." Four-and-a-half minutes of taunting foreshadowing climaxes in a subdued but irresistible horn melody—a combination of absolute rapture and a tinge of nostalgia, all translated into what sounds like the theme song from some '80s TV drama.

D.J. Bonebrake's vibes offer refinement throughout the album. During Bernstein's nod to Mogul of the Mob, "Meyer Lansky," delicately eerie vibraphone spots shimmer among Frankel's cool, quiet drums and effusive bongos. With Piltch's hip-swaying bass, the vibes set a dubious tone to "Sim Shalom," while Bernstein and Calogero on bass clarinet join up for a smart, sassy meander through the melody of this traditional tune—like two intimate friends sharing solemn secrets and cracking each other up.

Track Listing: Yis May Hoo, King Kong, Jehudis Bas Zion, Hollywood Diaspora, Meyer Lansky, B'rich Sh'me, Eliyahoo Hanavee, Sim Shalom, B'archu, V'shamru, Havenu Shalom Alechum

Personnel: Steven Bernstein--trumpet, flugelhorn; Pablo Calocero--baritone saxophon, bass clarinet, bass flute, flute, balloon flutes; D.J. Bonebrake--vibraphone; David Patch--bass; Danny Frankel--drums, bongos, percussion

Title: Diaspora Hollywood | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Tzadik


Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Another North CD/LP/Track Review Another North
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Gledalec CD/LP/Track Review Gledalec
by John Sharpe
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Flux Reflux CD/LP/Track Review Flux Reflux
by Glenn Astarita
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Christmas With Champian CD/LP/Track Review Christmas With Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 19, 2017
Read Harmony of Difference CD/LP/Track Review Harmony of Difference
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 18, 2017
Read No Answer CD/LP/Track Review No Answer
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 18, 2017
Read "Twin" CD/LP/Track Review Twin
by Fiona Ord-Shrimpton
Published: April 6, 2017
Read "You'll Never Know" CD/LP/Track Review You'll Never Know
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 31, 2017
Read "Mass" CD/LP/Track Review Mass
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: November 2, 2016
Read "Cornua Copiae" CD/LP/Track Review Cornua Copiae
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Astrometrics" CD/LP/Track Review Astrometrics
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "Live 1972" CD/LP/Track Review Live 1972
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 5, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.