THE KLEZMER BLINDFOLD TEST
Blindfold test. I received no prior information. Ratings are on a 1-to-5 scale.
1. “Oy Avram” Yiddish Princess
This one reminds me of Daniel Kahn, the young Jew in Berlin. Maybe he’s not that young. Let’s call him late-30s. Middle age is a long slog. When does it start? What about 66 — is that still middle age? What’s old?
Sarah Mina Gordon, vocals; Michael Winograd, synths; Avi Fox-Rosen, guitar; Yoshie Fruchter, guitar; Ari Folman-Cohen, bass; Chris Berry drums.
2. “Blooz” Michael Winograd’s Infection
My philosophy: do something new every day. If I have Kashi Island Vanilla for breakfast today, I go with Kashi Autumn Wheat tomorrow. Joe’s O’s or Cheerios? Depends.
This is Wino, Michael Winograd, on clarinet. He constructs his tunes with great care. Give him a 5.
Michael Winograd, clarinet; Frank London, trumpet; Daniel Blackberg, trombone; Brandon Seabrook guitar; Michael McLaughlin, accordion; Jason Nazary, drums.
3. “Sher 199” Bessarabian Hop. Michael Winograd
Again with Winograd? He’s big-time. His clarinet is Canadian, that much I know.
Winograd plays with time and stretches out the composition. It’s a 5.
Winograd, clarinet; Joey Weisenberg, mandolin; Patrick Farrell, accordion; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Daniel Blacksberg, trombone; Nick Cudahy, bass; Richie Barshay, drums.
4. “Epstein” Poykler’s Shloft Lied. Matt Temkin’s Yiddishe Jam Band
That’s Temkin. He wears his hat backwards and hangs out in Brooklyn. I know a backward hat-wearing drummer in Cleveland. My guy is Greek and does apartment cleanups after fires. Married to a Jewish girl. Plays some Jewish.
Frank London is on trumpet here. He’s on every klezmer record. Give it a 5.
Temkin, drums; Mike Cohen, reeds; Binyomin Ginzberg, keys; Brian Glassman, bass; Rachel Lemisch, trombone; Allen Watsky guitar: Frank London. trumpet.
5. “Baladi” Balada. Bulgarian Wedding Music. Yuri Yunakov
Heavy brass and breakneck tempos. These guys drink slivovitz by the gallon. I have one word for them: slow down. Give it a 5.
Yunakov, alto sax; Neshko Neshev, accordion; Lauren Brody, synth; Seido Salifoski, dumbek; Catherine Foster, clarinet; Carol Silverman, vocals.
6. “Shake Hands with your Uncle Max” The Jewish Songbook. Jason Alexander
Who is this? I’m seeing ghosts. I’m fainting. Give it a 3.
Alexander, vocals; Mike Garson, piano; Chuck Berghofer, bass; Don Heffington, drums; Marc Ellis, guitar.
7. “Mazl Tov Dances” You Should Be So Lucky! Maxwell Street Klezmer Band
The music is harmonically deep and soulful. Give it a 5. Thank you, KCB!
Ralph Wilder, clarinet; Alex Koffman, violin; Ivo Braun, trumpet; Sam Margolis, trombone; Gail Mangurten, piano; David Rothstein, bass; Steve Hawk, percussion.
8. “Meshugge ’bout my Myed’l” Klezmerfats! Peter Sokolow
Sokolow is a rhythmically complex animal. Not only can he play, he can he talk; he’ll drey you a kup for three straight hours at KlezKamp, and all good stuff. Read his interview with professor Phil Brown. That’s the best musician interview ever.
Pete combines earthiness, gravity and buoyancy. A 5.
Sokolow, piano, vocals.
9. “Ko Riboyn Olam” Stempenyu’s Dream. Steven Greenman.
This is Greenman, the LeBron of klezmer violin. Greenie sinks a 5-pointer.
Greenman, violin, vocals; Michael Alpert, violin, vocals; Pete Rushefsky, tsimbl; Mark Rubin, bass.
10. “Rumenye” Homesick Songs. Golem
It’s Ezekiel’s Wheels. This is so meaty. What’s for lunch? Give it a 6.
Annette Ezekiel, vocals, accordion; Aaron Diskin, vocals; Alicia Jo Rabins, violin; Curtis Hasselbring, trombone; Taylor Bergren-Chrisman, bass; Laura Cromwell, drums.
A version of this post first appeared here 6/26/13.