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World Music CD Reviews Europe

THE KLEZMATICS

By Marty Lipp
Published March 3, 2006

Rise Up! Shteyt Oyf!
Rounder

While the Klezmatics’ cheeky name smacks of irreverence, the players have shown themselves to be both serious musicians and respectful of Jewish culture, even if they have been unafraid to tweak some traditions. In a sense, the group’s name does them a disservice since the band’s repertoire has always leaned more toward plaintive than partying. As soloists, the group has explored Jewish spiritual music and other genres such as Balkan or avant-garde music, and Rise Up is indelibly marked with the explorations of these wandering Jews. There are more or less straightforward klezmer tracks, but then there is “Kats un Moyz (Cat and Mouse),” which seamlessly shifts from Eastern Europe to cool jazz to Latin vamps. Lead singer Lorin Sklamberg’s doleful voice seems a perfect centerpiece for the band, even if some listeners may not find it conventionally pretty. As always, the rest of the band plays with spot-on technical and emotional precision whether they are called upon for a frenetic dance tune or a funereal heartbreaker.