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Nikitov: Vanderlust

Elliott Simon By

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Original Yiddish/klezmer music was most likely string-based, with a heavy accent on violins, cellos and guitars, evolving during a time when the lines between Jewish and Gypsy musicians were quite fluid. Much later, Gypsy met jazz, and the result was perhaps the pinnacle of string-based jazz, the "hot club sound of guitarist Django Reinhardt and violinist Stéphane Grappelli. It would seem then that a marriage between Yiddish music and "hot club jazz should be made in heaven. Happily it is, and Vanderlust, from the international ensemble Nikitov, is the proof.

NYC-based guitarist Adam Good lends his musical savvy while expertly melding his acoustic guitar with bassist Jason Sypher's strong arco bottom to capture both soul and fire. Netherlands-based violinist Jelle van Tongeren beautifully augments or shoots fire from his fiddle, making for a gloriously clean, pure sound—an elegantly malleable sound that, while certainly not as cacophonous as a brass or electric jazz/klez fusion, retains both the powerful and soulfully stirring heart of its musical roots. It also perfectly fits the emotive Yiddish vocals of Niki Jacobs and imparts a distinctively authentic feel to the project.

Likewise hailing from the Netherlands, Jacobs can poignantly deliver the melancholy of "Fisherlid (Fisherman's Song), the lover's devotion of "Di Zaposhkelekh (Little Boots) and the changing moods of "A Glezele Yash (A Glass of Wine)" with a maturity that belies her years. Instrumentals interspersed with vocal selections gives the CD a concert atmosphere, as well some room for these musicians to stretch out and interpret the pieces.

While heavy on the traditional melodies, the sound is fresh and includes newly composed music as well as interpretations of classics, like Nikitov's plucky take on the closer, "Tumbalalaika, and a wistful version of "Di Alte Kashe (The Old Question). From a 21st Century world music perspective, Nikitov touchingly interprets flat-out gypsy picks to create something new out of the old, in the process succeeding in conjoining musics that were meant for each other.


Track Listing: Fisherlid; Hora Di Gitar / Farkoyfn Di Sapozhkelekh; A Glezele Yash; Jelle's Tanz; A Sheyn Shtikele; Vander Ikh Mir Lustig; Di Alte Kashe; Shvarts Bistu Shvarts; Rumeynien Trink Melodye; Br

Personnel: Niki Jacobs: voice; Jelle van Tongeren: violin; Adam Good: acoustic guitar; Jason Sypher: bass.

Title: Vanderlust | Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Chamsa Records

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