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One of several new releases from Knitting Factory Records is Klezmer Festival 1998 which was recorded at the Knitting Factory in New York City as part of the “Jewsapalooza” festival. Here, we get an aural taste of several bands that synthesize Jewish folklore with jazz and other genres. The “Jewish Alternative Movement” has become a potent force these days with bands like Masada, Hasidic New Wave and Paradox Trio (see Aug ’99 AAJ reviews) much to the satisfaction of audiences around the globe.
A hodgepodge of styles and songs represent Klezmer and Eastern European genres as these artist’s attain identifiable styles while the topical folklore, spiritual and/or divine factors are inherent throughout. The first track titled “Transcendence” by – Hasidic New Wave- bears much resemblance to contemporary modern music, melding funk, jazz and some down right nasty electric guitar work by Dave Fiuczynski. The clincher here are the pensive choruses by trumpeter Frank London and saxophonist Greg Wall who elicit the ethnocentric Jewish overtones, through melodic and at times solemn phraseology. Naftuli’s Dream are an interesting multidimensional band who utilize an unlikely cross section of instrumentation, consisting of clarinet, trombone, tuba, drums and guitar. On “Aimless Path”, the band’s clever permutations of melody and modal concepts convey a sense of the unknown while at times sounding like an East European marching band. Other bands contributing their wares to this recording are: Pharoah’s Daughter, Klezmokum, Paradox Trio and the wonderful “psychedelic sounding” Psychedelicatessen who occasionally poke a little fun at tradition.....On “Peskh Nign”, narrator David Licht talks about a Rabbi during the early 1900’s who “cut up his year supply of toilet paper on Xmas Eve”...along with other humorous niceties... The CD closes with guitar great Gary Lucas performing solo electric guitar on his composition titled, “Adir Hu/Rock of Ages Medley
Klezmer Festival 1998 is a fine sample of perhaps a new direction in music which seems to be taking on more significance and popularity. Some of this may not be everyone’s cup of tea, yet many of these musicians are young, talented and willing to explore and take chances. The vibes are positive as the union of deeply rooted tradition, new and slightly left of center practices are sharply executed by some who may represent the future of modern jazz.... ......... * * * ½
The bands: Hasidic New Wave (tracks 1 & 2); Naftuli’s Dream (tracks 3 & 4); Klezmokum (tracks 5 & 6); Paradox Trio (track 7); Pharoah’s Daughter (tracks 8 & 9); Psychedelicatessen (tracks 10 & 11) Gary Lucas (track 12).