Klezmer in every dimension! Further explorations by the band which brought you "Yiddish For Travelers," as well as "Surprising Finds" and "Traveling Show," plus special guests from the all-female Isle of Klezbos.
Features the track MAYN RUE PLATS, as heard in HBO's feature documentary "Schmatta: Rags to Riches to Rags."
With a lush six-page booklet including song background info, photos, plus all lyrics in Yiddish, English transliteration, and English translation.
Featuring band members who have played everything from Albanian to Zydeco, in ensembles with such stellar names as Bonnie Raitt, Burning Spear, the Waitresses, David Bowie, the Microscopic Septet, Indigo Girls, Joe Jackson, and Queen Latifah, not to mention Jewish music projects from Alhambra to David Krakauer to the Klezmatics to Andy Statman.
"It sure didn't take long for these guys to emerge as one of the best traditional klezmer bands around. Their first CD served notice that they were a force to be reckoned with and there sure wasn't a sophomore jinx. A tighter, more unified sound than ever, with leader Eve Sicular booting things along from her drum kit. A band that can handle any tempo and a wide range of moods with equal mastery. * * * * * " - George Robinson, THE JEWISH WEEK
"terrific new CD ... snazzy mixture of upbeat Eastern European dance tunes, Middle Eastern-influenced improvisations and luscious Yiddish theater tunes delivered by vocalist Deborah Karpel" - Seth Rogovoy, THE FORWARD
"Fantastic players... excellent vocals... strength and diversity" - Scott Atkinson, RootsWorld Bulletin
"Eclectic and sizzling klezmer" - The (NY) Jewish Week "Second Front" page, 4/20/01
"an urban, sophisticated sound, with crisp solos and exquisite ensemble playing.... the musicality is true, and the American-bred enthusiasm is unmistakable." - Gigi Yellen-Kohn, Jewish Transcript (Seattle)
"Metropolitan Klezmer...embraces the protean, polyglot character of klezmer music...with a playful yet authoritative touch, mixing equal parts authenticity and creativity...Consider Eastern Village Hanuka from the album Mosaic Persuasion. Here the band transforms Hanuka Oh Hanuka - a holiday song so common it could be called the Jewish Jingle Bells - into an Eastern-style, odd-meter dance." - Rob Taube, Our Town
"MOSAIC PERSUASION features some fantastic players... 'Humphrey Bulgar,' an up-tempo instrumental cover, is the finest example of the band's ability to toss the lead to each other. Clarinet, bass, accordion, drums, trumpet, and violin all take turns and then take a quick turn on Grieg's 'Hall of the Mountain King.' Deborah karpel delivers excellent vocals on a number of tracks, her voice taking on the characterishtics of a clarinet as it slides up and down the melody.
There is a heavy influence from Arabic music ... 'Uskudar Taxim/Terk in Amerike' starts almost completely Turkish in style and then, as the song progresse with a tight percussive bottom, the Yiddish influence mixes in with the Turkish. The lack of strict Yiddish references gives this album a lot of its strength and diversity..." - Scott Atkinson, ROOTSWORLD.com
"Metropolitan Klezmer's debut CD, 'Yiddish for Travelers,' was highly acclaimed for its electrifying renditions of classic Yiddish tunes. Their follow-up disc MOSAIC PERSUASION features more of the same: lively and evergetic dance music from Eastern Europe spills out of this CD with rollicking joy. The Isle of Klezbos, an all-woman Klezmer band, is also featured." -Hear's Music e-zine
"If there is such a thing as mainstream klezmer, [MOSAIC PERSUASION typifies] the sub-genre splendidly... Metropolitan Klezmer ... adapt a variety of traditional recordings, notably those first made popular by Naftule Brandwein, a 20th-century klezmer stalwart. Like others that populate the klezmer mainstream, this group does a good job choosing a mix of traditional bulgars and the like, and also digs deep for overlooked poetry that can be set to music. A sterling example is 'Unter di khurves fun Poyln [Under the Ruins of Poland],' a poem by Itsik manger, lamentring the loss of a girlfriend during the Holocaust. Mostly, though, these songs are uplifting, a happy collection of tunes meant to convey the broader range of emotions to which klezmer has always provided a soundtrack." - Ed Silverman, DIRTY LINEN folk & world music magazine
"The all-women band Isle of Klezbos, radical feminist wing of Metropolitan Klezmer, lit up the evening with sterling musicianship. They both get at the heart of Klezmer/Yiddish Theatre music and simultaneously wail."-Dick Rosenberg/ Harvard University
"I've just gotten my hands on the new Metropolitan Klezmer album, MOSAIC PERSUASION, which also features the all-woman 'Isle of Klezbos.'
If you liked the band's first album, "Yiddish for Travelers" (I liked it a lot!), you'll find the new album deeper, better, and even more fun.
Notable are a very swinging "Abi Gezunt" a very cool fusion of Eastern Europe and American Jazz in the "East(ern) Village Hanuka." There's also a version of "Lomir zikh iberbetn" (Let's make up) with entirely different lyrics and weight from the recent Flying Bulgars rendition of a song with the same name and same tune ("Tsirkus").
Damn. Wish I was in the Village right now, at a small club listening for this band that is still, clearly worth driving the four hours down from Boston for.
At least, that's what the first listen sounds like. There will be many more." - Ari Davidow, KLEZMER SHACK
"This CD, from everything I know, shall be praised to the skies. Should I simply end with this? That doesn't seem quite right.
What is left to be said:
The CD is extraordinary.
In every regard.
In terms of craft, no wish is left unfulfilled. The musicians play with effortless precision. Throughout, even with the familiar traditional pieces, the tracks are arranged and played with lots of emotional richness, a wealth of ideas, and passion.
One of my favorite pieces, "Uskudar Taxim/Terk in Amerika," is especially well-realized. It contains the essence of the old recordings; one feels touched by nostalgia. On the other hand, one will also be grabbed by the interesting new interpretation. A wonderfully beautiful accordion solo.
Similar things hold true for the remaining pieces: they bubble with stimulation and are truly the good old favorite songs.
In brief, simply one of the most outstanding recordings of Jewish music.
A personal note: a couple of days ago, I had a discussion with a musician about what I expect from the liner notes of a klezmer CD, and how they should not look. Those of Mosaic Persuasion are short and informative, a model example. No blather, just pertinent info on all the pieces, and song
texts in Yiddish, English, and Hebrew.
[Rating: Interpretation: 6 out of 6, Virtuosity: 6 out of 6, Joy of Playing: 5 out of 6, and Packaging: 5 out of 6.]
A lesser-known klezmer group [in Germany], but one of my favorites!"
- Stefan ('Gus') Bauer, VIRTUAL KLEZMER, www.klezmer.de
"One of the greatest klezmer bands I've ever heard - Metropolitan Klezmer. I had to find a way to include them in this broadcast!" - The Hot Club, Australia (www.tripod.com)
"This is Metropolitan Klezmer's second album, this time also featuring members of another Eve Sicular led band, the all female Isle of Klezbos. Again, there is that wonderful cosmopolitan blend of traditional klezmer tunes, Chassidic nigunim and khosidls, Yiddish song, Balkan and Greek and Sephardic elements, as well as jazz that so distinguished Metropolitan Klezmer's debut album, "Yiddish For Travelers".
The title "Mosaic Persuasion" is a very apt "double entendre", "mosaic" here being intended both in the meaning of referring to the laws of Moses (in other words, 'Mosaic means never having to say you're Jewish') and in that of a multi-faceted image, where a large number of individual elements combine to form a larger image. This metaphor could hardly be more appropriate to describe the eclectic music of Metropolitan Klezmer.
With "Mosaic Persuasion", Metropolitan Klezmer again present a strong, thoroughly consistent album. The arrangements are flawless and even elegant, the musicianship and virtuosity impeccable. Throw in superb ensemble playing and a great deal of exuberance and flair, as well as a truly cosmopolitan instrumental palette with excellent "doubling" by all members, and you've got an outstandingly versatile band. The presence of members of The Isle of Klezbos complements Metropolitan Klezmer seamlessly, and their contributions certainly make one wish to hear more of this all female band. Since their debut album, Metroplitan Klezmer's
founder/leader/drummer Eve Sicular has fine-tuned the delicate balance between her masterful and inventive, stylish drumming and the need to hold back so as not to dominate the music, even further, to the point of perfection. An incredible feat, for which Ms. Sicular can't be given sufficient credit and kudos. Much kudos is also due for the fairly extensive and even prominent use of the bass clarinet on "Mosaic
Persuasion" - and so wonderfully effective it is, too.
Some of the highlights of "Mosaic Persuasion" include "Brandwein in the Lotus Groove", based on a classic recording by the legendary Naftule Brandwein and given a different and original, imaginative rhythmictreatment by Eve Sicular, here playing the dumbeq, set off by a jazzy bass line by Dave Hofstra. The swing treatment given Yiddish theatre star MollyPicon's on-air signature tune, "Abi Gezunt", as part of "Northern Doyna/An Alter Nigun/Abi Gezunt" is simply outstanding. Deborah Karpel amplydemonstrates that she has overcome the shackles of her classical operatic training and grown tremendously as a singer of Yiddish song on "Mayn Rueplatz", "Muzikalisher Tango", and "Lomir Zikh Iberbetn" especially. "In Laws' Taxim/Mekhutonim Tants" has Michael Hess shining on a kanun taksim (a traditional form of improvisation common to all classical traditions of theMiddle East that was equally common to the Ashkenazic tradition until thelate 19th century when it started being supplanted by the 'doina'), which leads seamlessly into the Mekhutonim Tantz. This features Steve Elson's superb bass clarinet, contrasting beautifully with Debra Kreisberg'sexcellent alto, all melded together with fine ensemble playing including Michael Hess now on a very effective ney. "Humphrey Bulgar" is a wonderfully manic piece of Mickey Katz-esque slapstick also featuring abrief vaudeville excursion to Grieg's "In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt. Michael Hess's ney can again be heard to beautiful effect on "East(ern) Village Hanuka", a lively, almost manic, Turkish-flavoured
rendition in 7/8 meter of the holiday classic "Oy Hanukah!". "Uskudar Taxim/Terk in Amerike" starts with Ismael Butera playing an accordion taksim that's as Ottomanesque-sounding as you could possibly get with accordion - marvellous. This leads into the main piece, another 1920s Brandwein standard based on a popular Turkish song named for the town of
Uskudar. On "Szol a Kakas Mar", one of the oldest and most enduring Hungarian Jewish folk tunes, the listener is treated to some wonderful pizzicato viola by Michael Hess. "Mosaic Persuasion" closes with another classic popularised by Brandwein, "Araber Tants". Here, it has been given a
thoroughly Middle Eastern treatment, with a subtle, sensitive arrangement availing itself of Hess's gorgeous ney, Steve Elson's superlative chalumeau (mostly) of the bass clarinet played without even a hint of excessive
vibrato, Pam Fleming's subtle Harmon-muted trumpet and a suitably restrained rhythm section made up of Ismael Butera on bendir, Dave Hofstra on bass and Eve Sicular on daire (large frame drum). The effect is extremely seductive, even hypnotic. Even on an album with consistently strong tracks such as "Mosaic Persuasion", "Araber Tants" cannot fail to
stand out with its sheer haunting beauty.
The informative liner notes by Eve Sicular again include the lyrics for songs in Yiddish, romanised Yiddish, as well as English translation, also by Eve Sicular. Full listing of personnel as well as instrumentation isalso provided.
"Mosaic Persuasion" is an outstanding, varied album that Metropolitan Klezmer and members of The Isle of Klezbos can justly be proud of. The good news is that both bands have new albums on the way, and I for one can hardly wait! But don't wait that long, even if the new albums come out
tomorrow, grab "Mosaic Persuasion" and make the acquaintance of these superb bands today!" - Rainlore's World of Music http://www.rainlore.demon.co.uk/WorldOfMusic.html