The Bagg Street Klezmer Band was formed in 1992 in the old Jewish Quarter of Montreal, taking its name from Québec's oldest synagogue, situated on the corner of Bagg and Clark. Faithful to the klezmer tradition, Bagg Street plays regularly at weddings and other celebrations within the Jewish community in and around Montreal. The band has has also entertained thousands of people at concerts and festivals, including the Montreal International Jazz Festival, Hamilton`s Earthsong Festival, the Mont-Tremblant Music Festival and as a featured guest of Québec’s national folkdance troupe, Les Sortilèges. The band has also been featured numerous times on television and in films, including the TVA mini-series Ces enfants d'ailleurs and the Radio-Canada teen show Les Débrouillards. Their CD Go Meshuggah! received rave responses from critics and fans alike.
Here is yet another authoritative local band playing at far beyond local standards. From the opening medley of "Odessa Bulgars," these Bagg St. folks take their klez seriously, and play it with a lot of fervor and fun. They do a lot of dancing, with but a few quieter moments, as on their peaceful Russian Folk Melody, or on the sensitively done instrumental version of "Papir" (think, "doina doina" but less cloying), which manages to segue into a non-cliched Kolomeike (a dance of which I am beginning to tire in some renditions: Bad versions of this song--and unlike anything you are going to hear on this recording, are reminding me of my days emceeing a folk club in Jerusalem, where each week brought yet another butchered version of "Tennessee Stud").
Sorry for the digression, but you realize how much you enjoy something when you find yourself tapping your toes to songs that you have come to dread on other recordings. This is one of the good recordings. Even their "Papirosn" sounds new.
I should also mention, since this is a Montreal band, that the liner notes are presented in both English and French, and that both renditions look exquisite. Songs are well-annotated, as well.
Go Meshuggah! is also unusual in that there are no vocals on the album. In short, the band remains true to klezmer tradition, presenting renewed standards for your listening pleasure. I emphasize the word, "pleasure." Clearly, to paraphrase the band's motto, "Klezmer is our Bagg." (Or, as they would put it, "Le Klezmer est notre Bagg".
- Ari Davidow, www.klezmershack.com, reviewing Go Meshuggah!
The joyous debut by Québec`s first and foremost klezmer band. The selections are beautifully rendered, sometimes rollicking at breakneck speed, at other times pensive and deeply nostalgic
- Daniel Feist – Montreal Gazette, reviewing Go Meshuggah!
Authenticity is not a problem for the Bagg Street crew. They play their music as if it were part of their being, not something they learned for a gig or two. They are a pleasure to listen to – a machaya*.” (* Yiddish word for a wonderful feeling or event).
- Montreal jazz critic Irwin Block, reviewing show at Lion d'Or
Montreal’s kings of klezmer music!
- CBC television's Citybeat
Taking their name from what was once the heart of the Montreal Jewish community, a historic synagogue on Bagg and Clark, the Baggers deliver a brand of klezmer packed with gusto. Minda Bernstein’s violin hits the full range from unbridled joy to desperate sorrow.
- Daniel Nemirof – Montreal Mirror
The Bagg Street Klezmer Band, qui comme son nom l’indique a vu le jour au coin des rues Bagg et Clark, a relu le répertoire traditonnel au grand bonheur des membres de la communauté juive montréalaise, qui s’était donné rendez-vous aux portes du Métro Place des Arts.
- Le Devoir, reviewing performance at Festival International de Jazz de Montréal
Le Bagg Street Klezmer Band a brillé par son dynamisme.
- Le Devoir, revieiwing performance at Festival Musique Multi-Montréal