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Yale Strom with Hot Pstromi & Klazzj: Klezmer

C. Michael Bailey By

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Yale Strom kicks off the Café Jew Zoo festivities with an explanation about the roots of klezmer, as it relates to his vision of New Jewish Music.

The range of music emanates from the DNA of klezmer, which is the melismatic prayer modalities chanted by the ancient Hebrews of the Middle East. We klezmorim today often overlook that Abraham came from Ur in Iraq, and not Uman in Ukraine. Thus, in tunes like "Bonesetter’s Last Dance," "Dorohoi Khusidl," "Hora Din Caval," and "Shakiris," the Middle Eastern tonalities can be easily heard...

I suspect that it does not get any more basic than that. What rolls out on the aural waves of Café Jew Zoo is one of the most intelligent, integrated, and delightful surveys of klezmer that one is likely to encounter. The disc ranges from the traditional vocals of "Birobidzhan" and solo guitar performance of "Hora Din Caval" (beautiful) to the wild and wooly ("The Bonesetter’s Dance" and "Café Jew Zoo"). "The Bonesetters Dance" is klezmer strained through the terministic screen of the 21st century. Strom composed the piece with the appropriate amount of humor and reverence to make it an effective modern klezmer piece. Think of a Jewish Sun Ra.

Yale Strom accomplishes his wish to explore the evolution of klezmer. This Eastern European music is as immediately identifiable as is Piazzola’s tangos. The music is readily danceable and sunny with a tinge of melancholy. Café Jew Zoo makes a splendid introduction to the uninitiated in this Jewish spirit of music making.

For more information, see Naxos World Music .

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