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Peter Lippman lives in Seattle Washington, when he's home. He founded the Mazel Tov Klezmer Band in 1980, with Sandra Layman and others. E-mail:

About Sandra Layman. Purchase "Little Blackbird"

About Di Naye Kapelye. Purchase "Mazeldiker Yid"

KlezmerShack "Best of 2001" awards to "Little Blackbird" and "Mazeldiker Yid"

other klezmer articles on the Internet

Sandra Layman, Yankl Falk and Friends in concert

Celebrating the release of Sandra Layman's "Little Blackbird" and Di Naye Kapelye's "A Mazeldiker Yid" (featuring Yankl Falk)

Review by Peter Lippman,

[Note: The author attempted to post this article to a local Seattle review guide, but it was too long. We see no reason why readers should be denied the full story, especially when it is about great music, so have offered to host the article on the KlezmerShack. It is posted here with the author's permission.]

I told my friends that if they were only going to attend one ethnic music concert this year, they should go hear Sandra Layman & Friends on January 20th. I was right. How long has it been since we've been able to listen to Sandra and Alexander Eppler together? How long will it be before we will be able to hear Sandra and Yankl Falk again? I don't care if Esma Redzepova and Himzo Polovina roll into town backed up by the Mahotella Queens, this concert was tops.

First, last, and most stirring, was the playing of Sandra Layman. Confident in Greek, Romanian, Klezmer, and other styles, Sandra's mastery of the genre is simply breathtaking. (I wish they hadn't devalued the word "awesome.") I have a hard time sitting still at concerts -- or, for that matter, anywhere -- but Sandra had my full attention throughout this one.

A number of violinists have impressive technique, and so does Sandra. But I have yet to find more than a couple other musicians who have the deep sense of nuance that Sandra has. In a subtle turn of a phrase -- if you are prepared to hear it -- Sandra can call up the full weight of a thousand years of East European turmoil, and can evoke the deep emotions of many lifetimes. She plays with heart.

There were many treats for the audience. Kyle Hanson on accordion and Lori Goldston on cello, together with Hank Bradley and Cathie Whitesides, provided a solid and professional underpinning for a complicated program that, though quickly put together, came off without a hitch.

The first half of the concert showcased Sandra with Alex Eppler on cimbalom. Alex came out of the musical shadows to show his instrumental virtuosity and command of the music, fully fit to accompany Sandra. His backup was rich and full -- majestic, even -- giving Sandra a rare and colorful background for her melodies. Thanks, Sandra, for bringing Alex out. I hope he does not fade back into obscurity now.

As much as we in the audience enjoyed the show, I like to think that Hank Bradley and Cathie Whitesides enjoyed it too. For example, they had to love playing the Vlach medley from eastern Serbia for two violins. That's a real "folkie's" folk tune, not the kind of thing they put on the turntable at the weekly recreational folk dance. When they played, you could smell the sljivovica. And Hank's bouzouki and guitar accompaniment were as bright, humorous, and sensitive as always.

It was a special treat to have Yankl Falk up from Portland. He's the strongest performer of things Jewish that I've seen in these parts in a good while. Yankl is strongly tapped into the authentic musical soul of the east European Jewish experience. He has no touch of the fakelore that follows so many Jewish performers around like a nudnik. His clarinet playing is solid, and he has a beautiful and expressive voice. He brims with Yiddishkeit.

Thank you, everyone who supported Sandra by playing that night. If I was a prayin' man, I'd pray for the chance to hear her early and often.

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Contents copyright © 2002 by Peter Lippman. Used with permission. All rights reserved. Page last revised 11 June, 2007.