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World Music CD Reviews Middle East & North Africa

YALE STROM WITH HOT PSTROMI AND KLAZZJ

By MICHAEL STONE
Published May 31, 2006

Klezmer: Café Jew Zoo
Naxos World

Explaining the Mid-eastern tonalities and Eastern European chutzpah that percolate through this recording, leader, violinist, composer-arranger, scholar and documentary filmmaker Yale Strom comments, “We klezmorim today often overlook that Abraham came from Ur in Iraq, and not Uman in Ukraine.” Hence their renditions of “The Bonesetter’s Last Dance” (whose Ottoman timbres and percussive insistence fold into a characteristic Romanian melancholy), “Dorohoi Khusidl,” “Shakiris” and “Hora Din Caval” (the latter’s liberal Gypsy flamenco guitar borrowings underscore an even broader musical disposition). It doesn’t hurt that Strom can tap the soulful vocals of Elizabeth Schwartz (the title track, “Imenu Malkatseynu,” “Yekele The Bonesetter,” “L’Chayim, Comrade Stalin!” and “Ten Plagues”—enumerated as “Corporate Thievery, Poverty, Sickness, Homelessness, Government Spying, False Arrest, Pollution, Walt Disney Culture, Fanaticism and John Ashcroftism”), the clarinet and mandolin wizardry of Andy Statman (“Stoliner Skotshne,” “Birobidzhan,” “Waltz Amur”), the lyricism of Peter Stan (accordion) and Fred Benedetti (guitars), and the musical erudition of a host of other klezmorim equally at home in the idioms of jazz, classical and sundry world traditions. A brilliant addition to contemporary klezmer.