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World Music CD Reviews Europe

She'koyokh Klezmer Ensemble

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published April 16, 2008

Sandanski's Chicken
ARC Music

The She’koyokh Klezmer Ensemble is an eight-member mostly instrumental group based in London that specializes in performing mostly high-energy music from Eastern Europe. On Sandanski’s Chicken, the group delves into a variety of Balkan, Greek, and Turkish folk styles, and also covers some old Jewish melodies from Poland, Romania, the Ukraine, and several other countries. Naturally many of these dance tunes—known as bulgars, horos, kopanitsas, and karsilamas—are played in complicated meters and in fact, the ensemble’s repertoire is so highly charged and relentless that listening to all 16 tracks in one sitting can be an exhausting task. Taken several tunes at a time, however, it’s easy to appreciate the emotion and the level of virtuosity that the group brings to the material. The album ends with the atypical “Wedding Song,” a humorous ditty, composed by the group’s accordionist for a puppet play, that turns out to be the album’s only original track, as well as the only one that features vocals.