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Shtreiml: Fenci's Blues

Elliott Simon By

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With Fenci's Blues, Shtreiml has chosen to partner with master Turkish oudist Ismail Fencioglu—and in the process the group has expanded its reach beyond klezmer to yield a strong and unique world music session. The first two Shtreiml releases were showcases for the harmonica wizardry of a Howard Levy pupil, Jason Rosenblatt. As a result, the band had struck a comfortable niche in the klezmer/Jewish music world with a sound based in large part on Rosenblatt's prodigious abilities to play chromatically on the familiar diatonic blues harp. While the kernel of that sound remains, this current offering is more liberal in its sonic palette, blending in a heavy dose of Turkish music, complete with vocals, and other world/folk musics for a program that stands as a meeting between two masters.

Rosenblatt has eschewed total reliance on the harmonica to include a healthy smattering of keyboards to broaden the sound. Shtreiml's primary instrumentation for this date also includes the drums/percussion of Thierry Arsenault, the bass of Adam Stotland and, as if a harmonica-oud meeting is not enough of a rarity, the brilliant t-bone stylings of Rachel Lemisch, completing a quintet the likes of which has never been heard before. Both Rosenblatt and Fencioglu meet, and at times exceed expectations with their exceptionally clean, crisp and blindingly fast virtuosic playing.

The title cut, Rosenblatt's paean to Fencioglu, features some very tight and fiery harmonica/oud in tandem playing, while "Beyoglunda Gezersin is reminiscent of a bluegrass hoedown as oud reprises banjo and harp plays country. "Roman Dunya is a forum for each instrumentalist to sear with hot Gypsy fire, while "Bu Duzen is a contemporary-sounding flamenco-meets-world music gem. "Nikriz Longa has oud breathtakingly playing the role of sitar augmented by Lemisch and Rosenblatt for a singular worldly/otherworldy sound, before the hotly cooking "Hicaz Mandra gets the world dancing.

Ballads, as well as traditional Turkish and Jewish tunes, beautifully invite each player into the other's backyard, rounding out the fourteen tracks. Original compositions, like the oud/harmonica duet restyling of "Rachels Bulgar, also delight. "Erkilet Guzeli, with its large-ensemble sound, is a fitting closer featuring Dave Mossing on trumpet and Damian Nisenson on saxophones, reaching out to the Balkan Brasslands for inspiration. A bonus track expands things even further with the addition of violin and bandir, but the real story is how this instrumentation creates a brilliant patchwork quilt out of a myriad of influences.

Track Listing: Fenci's Blues; Beyoglunda Gezersin; Roman Dunya; Bu Duzen; Nikriz Longa; Hicaz Mandra; Semalardan Gunes Hala Inmiyor; Howard's Sirbisch; Nihavend Longa; Seni Herdem Aniyorum; Chassidl Medley; Shabbat Hayom L'Hashem; Rachel's Bulgar; Erkilet Guzeli; Bonus Cut.

Personnel: Thierry Arsenault: drums, percussion; Ismail Hakki Fencioglu: Oud, vocals; Rachel Lemisch: trombone; Jason Rosenblatt: harmonica, piano, electric piano, organ; Adam Stotland: electric bass; Pelin Fencioglu: Bandir (10, bonus track); Dominic Girard: bass (3, bonus track); Arial Harrod: bass (8,12); Yetkin Kuran: violin (bonus track); Dave Mossing: trumpet (14); Damian Nisenson: saxophones (14); Sergiu Popa: Accordion (8).

Title: Fenci's Blues | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: Self Produced

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