YOU ASK ME WHY…TOVA SINGS BEYLE
You really don't think of Yiddish as being a particularly jazzy language to sing in, but Theresa Tova makes it so. This CD features emotionally stirring songs with classic jazz riffs. The recording makes you feel as if you are in a small cafe somewhere and Tova is singing live, right in front of you. Tova's sexy voice paired with the jazz flute on "Uhu Fayft der Vint" is a match made in heaven. The colorful graphics on this CD are beautiful. It's really nice to receive a disc that is as lovely on the outside as the music within.
Ozcat Radio 91.5 FM Vallejo, California
This is contemporary jazz at its best and Tova sings Beyle in a way no other could ….Ten out of Ten for sheer imagination, interpretation and musical originality.
Highlands Fm, Australia
Sublime...Cool and in Yiddish?… This CD redefines hip!… Nothing short of masterful. This is high art, yet also highly listenable music.
ELIZAGOTH/ ALL EARS Stratford Ontario
"Discs of the Month"
Perfect for listening during these increasingly chilly nights. …multi talented diva Theresa Tova’s musical homage to the noted 20th century Yiddish composer Beyle Scahechter-Gottesman, “You Ask Me Why-Tova Sings Beyle” has a strong jazz sensibility that is a perfect setting for Theresa Tova’s smoky contralto… intriguing, surprising and deeply meaningful …an “A- list” of guest artists, …the prodigious producing talents of the gifted John Alcorn have managed to squeeze just about every possibility and nuance out of the simple melodies.
Theresa Tova sings each composition with great feeling and moody dysphoria, capturing the intent of the lyric perfectly, rendering it unnecessary to understand Yiddish to experience this eclectic musical journey.
A beguiling voice... fascinating... the accompaniment is excellent.I have no hesitation in playing this music to an audience whose first language is Welsh - why not!! ...we are enjoying it immensely.
Radio Maldwyn, UK
A wonderful tribute album to a wonderful lady
done by a voice that sounds like the angels had something to do with its creation.
WFDU fm Teaneck New Jersey
This was such an exciting album that I cancelled other plans and made it what we call our "Featured Album of the Week" and played a number of tracks on the one program. Beyle's songs are so moving and Theresa's voice is a knock-out... what a combination! To be honest with you, I would never have dreamt that such a project could even get off the ground, much less turn out to be such a brilliant listening experience. I've had several good comments from listeners already and most important to me, it brought back memories of my grandparents speaking Yiddish, the sound of which is music to my ears. Thank you for bringing Yiddish to the world in such a delightful form. When do you release the follow-up album?
- Harold Ellison "The Jazz Cafe"
TripleU-FM Nowra, New South Wales Australia
BRTO Radio Netherlands
Excellent disk, LOVE IT.
2NVR 105.9 fm Australia
Theresa Tova Vocals
Matt Herskowitz Piano
Artie Roth Bass & Electric Bass
Daniel Barnes Drums & Percussion
Brian Katz Classical & Electric Guitars
Jane Bunnett Flute
Kelly Jefferson Tenor Saxophone
John Macleod Trumpet
Julie Michels Vocal duet
Theresa Tova (performer) is an award-winning actor, writer and singer with a thriving career in theatre, television and film. Tova wrote, produced and starred in her holocaust musical, Still the Night. This production, short-listed for the Governor General’s Award (for excellence in dramatic literature), played to sold-out theatres in an eight-city Canadian tour, and won four Dora Awards - including Best Production.
More recently, she has turned her considerable energies back to her native tongue, her mameloshn Yiddish, and produced two critically acclaimed CDs -- Telling Stories 2000 and Tova Live at the Top o’ the Senator 2002. Tova performs with the world’s leading ethnomusicologists, presenting modern interpretations of old world classics, Yiddish theatre music and jazz at Klezmer festivals, concert halls and nightclubs in major centers throughout North America and Europe -- including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, New York, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Washington DC, Switzerland, Holland, Luxembourg, Germany and France. Notable international bookings include a concert with members of the San Francisco Symphony at the invitation of renowned conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. Earlier this year, Tova headlined the Berkeley Jewish Festival in California before returning to Europe to perform in Germany and Holland. She also made numerous appearances in New York, including featured performances at The Syracuse Festival, The Yiddish Festival at Lincoln Center, and The Long Island Festival.
Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman (lyricist/composer) survived the Holocaust in the ghetto in Chernovitz, Romania -- one of the centers of Yiddish intellectual culture. Relocating to the United States in 1951, she began writing verse, ultimately gaining a reputation as one of America's premier Yiddish poets. Beyle's songs cover a wide range of subjects -- from subway musicians, to personal reminiscences, to descriptions of street life in her hometown (the Bronx). Her fellow artists also acknowledge Beyle as one of the great living a cappella ballad singers.
In 1998, the New York City-based organization City Lore inducted Beyle into the People's Hall of Fame; in 2005, the National Endowment of the Arts presented her with the NEA Heritage Award in recognition of her lifetime achievement, artistic excellence and contributions to the nation’s traditional arts heritage.
The producer and chief arranger is Tova’s longtime collaborator, award-winning composer/musician John Alcorn. The list of stellar musicians includes virtuoso Montreal pianist Matt Herskowitz, Jane Bunnett (flute), John MacLeod (trumpet), Kelly Jefferson (tenor saxophone), Brian Katz (guitar), Artie Roth (bass), Daniel Barnes (drums), and Julie Michels (duet vocals). Award-winning engineer Jeff Wolpert recorded and mixed the project in his Toronto studios.
Tova’s interpretation of Beyle’s music always crosses borders -- attracting not only Yiddish speakers, but multicultural audiences at world and jazz festivals as well. She included one of Beyle’s songs, Der Saksaphone Shpiler, on her Tova Live album -- which received radio airplay on Canada's premiere Jazz station Jazz FM.91. The concept for this CD included creating fresh new settings for these musical gems, using contemporary, sensual grooves. As New York jazz icon Abbey Lincoln once said to Tova backstage at the Blue Note, “It don’t matter what language you sing in -- it's jazz.”
Tova and Beyle have a powerful connection. They met in New York City, shortly after the devastating events of September 11, 2001, and soon became fast friends. Tova moved in with Beyle, and they spent months sharing personal histories and singing together as Beyle began teaching Tova her vast repertoire. Tova still travels to visit with and learn from Beyle several times a year. The mutual respect these artists have for each other is palpable. Tova immediately started including Beyle’s songs in her live repertoire, even in her jazz concerts. When a Klezmer festival in Weimar named the event in her honor, Beyle brought Tova to Germany so that she could sing her songs.
When she traveled to Washington in 2005 to receive the National Endowment of the Arts Heritage Award (the first time the NEA has honored a Yiddish artist), Beyle brought Tova along to sing her songs, stating, “Tova, you are my best ambassador.” This March (2006), Tova and Beyle again traveled together to perform a concert of Beyle’s songs and poetry at the Berkeley Jewish Festival.
The Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto asked Ms Tova to produce an event honoring Beyle at their 2006 Festival, and so it seemed both timely and important to have Tova’s personal take on Beyle’s songs –
YOU ASK ME WHY… Tova Sings Beyle -- available for that occasion.
Beyle is 86 years young. All the more reason this project needed to happen NOW.
This November Tova returns to Europe to headline the Amsterdam Jewish Festival and to perform in Germany and Poland