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Irving Fields meets Roberto Rodriguez: Oy Vey

Elliott Simon By

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Irving Fields/Roberto Rodriguez
Oy Vey.....Olé!!!

Irving Fields Trio
My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites

One could say that pianist Irving Fields and percussionist Roberto Rodriguez were destined for each other. Fields, who grew up with beautiful Yiddish melodies, discovered the infectiousness of Latin rhythms during his travels to Cuba and Miami. Rodriguez, born in Cuba, discovered Jewish music as a child after emigrating to Miami. Both musicians, more than four decades apart, recorded landmark albums in this niche Latin/Jewish sub-genre. While Fields pretty much invented this music with his seminal Bagels and Bongos (Decca/Reboot, 1959/2005), Rodriguez has seriously redefined it, bringing an elegant complex maturity to it with his original project, El Danzon de Moises (Tzadik, 2002).

In his 92nd year, Fields is perhaps the last working pianist of his musical cohort, a generation of headliners who, either solo or with trio, played the big hotel rooms in a NYC cocktail scene from a bygone era. His memory for tunes and facility for creating medleys are unmatched, skills that he still amazingly continues to demonstrate in live dates night after night. Rodriguez, whose own more recent cutting edge releases present an exquisitely string-based Jewish/Latin fusion, is a world-class percussionist who is part of a generation of downtown musicians that view Fields as inspirational.

My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites is the famous Irving Fields Trio reprised, with Rodriguez on percussion and Greg Cohen on bass. Here, 16 well known classics of the Yiddish repertoire are presented the Irving Fields way — with the glorious flourishes, the perfectly placed Jewish musical signifiers and the short intrusions of melodies on top of melodies at lightning speed. Tunes like "My Yiddishe Mama , "Hava Nagila and "Tzene Tzena have, through caricature, become clichéd but in Fields' hands the beauty of the original melodies is rediscovered through unmatched interpretations in the context of a world-class rhythm section.

Oy Vey!!!...Olé!!! is Rodriguez inviting Fields to join his existing band on equal terms. A program that includes six songs composed by each artist, Fields hits like "Miami Beach Rhumba" and "Managua Nicaragua" are wonderfully updated in the context of arrangements that include the powerfully exquisite violin of Meg Okura, klezmer clarinetist Gilad Harel, accordionist Uri Sharlin and bassist Jennifer Vincent. Plums from Rodriguez' songbook like "El Danzon de Moises", "El Polaco" and "Dice El Sabio Solomon" welcome Fields' touch and style like a long lost friend. Bringing godfather together with godson, Oy Vey!!!...Olé!!! and My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites are instant classics.

Tracks and Personnel

Oy Vey.....Olé!!!

Tracks: El Danzon de Moises; A Turkish Chasseneh; El Polaco; Miami Beach Rhumba; Dice el Sabio Solomon Elephant Tap Dance; Paseo Del Prado; Managua Nicaragua; Piruli.

Personnel: Irving Fields: piano; Meg Okura: violin; Roberto Rodriguez: percussion; Gilad Harel: clarinet; Natalie Michan: vocal; Uri Sharlin: accordion, organ; Jennifer Vincent: bass.

My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites

Tracks: Sholom Aleichem; Ose Shalom; Di Grine Kuzine; Oifin Pripitchik; Mir Zol Zein Far Dir; Tzene Tzena; My Yiddishe Mama; Ba Shana; Hamavdil; Oi Mama Bin.

Personnel: Irving Fields: piano; Greg Cohen: bass; Roberto Rodriguez: Percussion.


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