Happy Chanukah 2004

Elliott Simon By

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These offerings from disparate quarters are perfect for those who are looking for new music this Chanukah. The latest from the Klezmatics and Lori Cahan-Simon hold up well musically while engendering a festive family listening experience.

The Klezmatics
Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka
Klezmatics Records

Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka , complete with dreidel dust jacket, is eight (one for each night) lyrical gems set to the Klezmatics brand of delightful cutting edge jazz infused klezmer. Through his mother-in-law, famed Yiddish poet Aliza Greenblatt, Guthrie became acquainted with Judaism. His Chanukah lyrics lay archived until his daughter, Nora, attended a Klezmatics concert and the project was brought to fruition. In addition to the signature Klezmatic sound, there is a beautiful Celtic folk and bluegrass feel to the session. This is due to the production and presence of multi-instrumentalist Greg Anderson, Boo Reiner's guitar and Susan McKeown's gorgeously traditional Irish vocal style. The opener, "Hanuka Tree", and the title cut are familiar sounding up-tempo Klezmatic treatments with the former taking a Yiddish spin on Guthrie's lyric and the latter featuring a bluegrass guitar and fiddle. "The Many and the Few" is a powerful duet between vocalists Lorin Sklamberg and Mckeown while "Hanuka's Flame" is gospel in its choral wonder with Frank London's soulful trumpet featured against an Appalachian backdrop. As Sklamberg, sounding a bit like Woody himself, sings the lyric "Tippy Tap Toe Happy Hanuka, round you go my little latke" on the album closer "Hanuka Dance" , you realize that by discovering the little known Jewish side of an American songwriting icon the Klezmatics have created a new American Chanukah classic.

Lori Cahan-Simon Ensemble
Vessel of Song: The Music of Mikhl Gelbart
Independent Release

For Vessel of Song , vocalist and Yiddishist, Cahan-Simon has partnered with some of the finest traditional klezmer musicians to present newly recorded versions of the songs of Mikhl Gelbart, a prodigious 20th century Yiddish composer. Including selections appropriate for Chanukah, Purim, Passover and the Sabbath, this program is a potpourri of holiday magic, children's tunes and faith based song. A special seasonal treat is Gelbart's "Ikh bin a Kleyner Dreydl", the well known "I Had a Little Dreidel", presented in the context of a 3-part Chanukah medley. Cahan-Simon's vocals make all this variety work as her rich voice and expertly expressive Yiddish ranges far and wide through heartfelt cantorial emotion, playful phrases and swinging exhortations that will have the whole family singing and dancing. Steven Greenman's violin coupled with Henry Shapiro's bass is able to match Cahan-Simon's passion on songs like the powerfully poetic "Moyde Ani" or augment her lightheartedness on the more up-tempo numbers. Likewise, the wide textural scope of Alexander Fedoriouk's cimbalom and Adrienne Greenbaum's wooden flutes add depth to the diversity. With English translations and skillfully researched liner notes, Vessel of Song is not only a holiday delight but a year round inauguration into Yiddish culture for all.

Track listing

Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka : 1. Hanuka Tree 2. Happy Joyous Hanuka 3. Hanuka Bell 4. The Many and the Few 5. Hanuka's Flame 6. Hanuka Gelt 7. Honeyky Hanuka 8. Hanuka Dance

Vessel of Song : 1. Urim burim: a purim lidl (A Purim Song) 2. A gut yontev yidn (Good Purim To Us) 3. Treyst, mayn folk (Comfort My People) 4. Moyde ani (I Give Thanks) 5. Boys and Girls Medley; a) Dray yingelelekh (Three Little Boys) b) Arbet (Mitn zegele) Work (With a Little Saw) c)A yingele, a meydele (A Little Boy, A Little Girl) 6. Kumt ale in shul (Everybody Come to School) 7. Muzikantn (Musicians) 8. In shul arayn (Going to School) 9. Khad Gadyo (One Only Kid) 10. Chanukah Medley: Ikh bin a kleyner dreydl (I Am a Little Dreydl), Khanike- shpil (Gut yontef aykh, kinder) Chanukah Play (Happy Chanukah, Children) 11. Shabes (Sabbath) 12. Milkhome (War) 13. A viglid (Shteyt in feld a beymele) A Lullabye (In the Field Stands a Tree) 14. In an orem shtibele (In a Poor Little House) 15. A maysele (In himl shvimt a volkndl) A Little Story (In the Sky Floats a Little Cloud)


Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka : Matt Darriau (clarinet), Lisa Gutkin (violin), David Licht (drums), Frank London (trumpet), Paul Morrissett (bass), Lorin Sklamberg (vocalist/accordionist) with Greg Anderson, Susan McKeown, and Boo Reiners, Additional Chorus on (5) Erik Anjou, Annette Ezekiel, Tine Kindermann, Klara Zikova

Vessel of Song : Lori Cahan-Simon (Vocals), Adrianne Greenbaum (Flutes), Alexander Fedoriouk (Cimbalom, Percussion, Vocal), Walt Mahovlich (Accordion, Vocal), Steven Greenman (Violin, Vocal), Henry Shapiro (Bass, Vocal)

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