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The klezmer base is there, unmistakeable, on drummer Aaron Alexander's Midrash Mish Mosh, but a bunch of other influences wail into the sound, too. For example, guitarist Brad Shepik lends a punk rock feeling to the opener, "Kleyzmish Moshpit." The title alone gives a big hint of what to expect. A mosh pit with Jewish leanings? I can't say, never having experienced a mosh pit in any form; but to these ears it sounds like Jimi Hendrix in a yarmulke, cutting loose.
Then there's the textures: two drummersAlexander and Michael Sarindriving the rhythm, weaving a tighter web than you encounter with most klezmer sounds; reed player Greg Wall; clarinetist Merlin Shepard; trumpeter Frank London; trombonist and guitarist Curtis Hasselbring; and bassist Fima Ephron.
"Radical Jewish Culture" is a phrase coined to tag the music on John Zorn's Tzadik label, and the collection has offered some excellent stuff, including Steven Bernstein's Diaspora Hollywood; Charming Hostess' Sarajevo Blues; Greg Wall's Later Prophets; and Septeto Rodriguez's marvelous Baila! Gitano Baila!, to name just a few. Midrash Mish Mosh has old rootsEastern European folk music, to be specificto which it adds the bright new branchings of punk rock and Ornette Coleman's Prime Time-like free jazz esthetic.
In its pure form, klezmer has a very free-wheeling, often madcap quality, sinuous clarinet and violin lines snaking around each other with frenetic energy. On Midrash Mish Mosh Alexander has created a beefier sound with denser rhythms and a feeling of forward-moving modernity. All compositions are from Alexander's pen, idiosyncratic and quirky sounds, a Hasidic 21st Century Dixieland of sorts. Original, energetic, and different from pretty much anything you'll hear out there.
Track Listing: Kleyzmish Moshpit, Kaddish for Carmen, Peep Nokh A Mol, Balagan Balaban, Debkavanah, Yiddish Kop, Khosidl for the Mixed Marriage, Der Rumsisker Maggid/Shema, Khosn Kalleh Haskalah
Personnel: Merlin Shepard--clarinet; Greg Wall--tenor and soprano saxes and clarinet; Frank London--trumpet; Curtis Hasselbring--trombone, gitar; Brad Shepik--guitar; Fima Ephron--bass; Michael Sarin--drums; Aaron Alexander--drums. Special Guest: Randy Crafton--rik on track 5
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.