Budowitz / Live

Budowitz / Live CD cover - mighty fishy!Budowitz / Live
Golden Horn Records, CHP 029-2, 2007
Available from CDbaby.com and fine retailers everywhere

Budowitz was one of the first post-revival bands to record a new approach to klezmer. Instead of focusing on music learned off old '78s and surviving American wedding musicians, Josh Horowitz spent years in Eastern and Central Europe learning from any musician who remembered (and often, still played) klezmer. The music he played and recorded lacked the later jazz influences of American klezmer, and the instrumentation was also different—no drum kits, a focus on stringed instruments ranging from tsimbl to fiddle, with the beat sustained by the secunde fiddle, or a cello or, on occasion, poyk (drum). The sound is further filled out by Josh's occasional turns on accordion. Half of the band-members are familiar to those who keep track of the most exciting players: Josh on tsimbl and accordion, plus the incendiary duo of Cookie Segelstein on fiddle and Christian Dawid on clarinet; the others, no less talented, if less familiar outside Europe: Tamás Gombai on violin; Sándor D. Tóth on three-string Bratsch (viola) and baraban (drum); Zsolt Kürtösi on three-string bass, three-string cello.

The result is joyful enlightenment to those who haven't heard this style of klezmer before (and even more joy to those of us who have been awaiting this recording). This music is like the wild cousin of those formal country dance melodies that have been long popular here in New England. At times, as in the introductory Galitsian medley with which this series of live recordings begins, the pieces are stately and rhythmic, just like contradance melody. The sounds are Eastern European, rather than Celtic or bluegrass, and the interplay of fiddle, tsimbl, and clarinet sounds refreshing to those of us used to the instrumentation in contrabands. Yet, there are times, especially when band members are flying at unsafe-for-anyone-else speeds (say, Tamas Gombai on "Vargas Szapora" from the Transylvanian set) that one feels as though one is listening to Vassar Clements. Then Segelstein takes over and Clements is clearly a mere tyro. Dawid slides his clarinet into a doina, "Josefs Tish Nign," say, and starts off the Kiev set and one is reminded that this is klezmer and there may be a reason why Andy Statman draws on these sources when he, himself, turns to bluegrass.

But, beware, this is also wild person's music. Where Horowitz can take us on intrictate flights of fancy on his accordion or tsimbl, as each medley progresses to the faster and faster tunes, Dawid and Segelstein burn down the house. Over the course of an amazing two-CD set, the band takes us through ten regions of eastern and central Europe, featuring new and old traditional tunes that characterize each location, from Kiev to Mogilev to Besarabye. This is the land of strung-together medleys where the musicians keep playing, drawing strength to continue from the wild bodies dancing on the floor, in turn kept in motion by the increasing intensity of music from the stage, until everyone reaches the point of collapse and takes a break to prepare for dancing again.

This is the required klezmer album of the year. There are others that feature playing on this level, but nothing that so captures that spirit of "dance" the means simkhe, while also making one aware, from time to time, about how skillful each of the musicians is, and how incredibly tightly they perform together as a band, moving from melody to melody with a smoothness that never interrupts the dance flow, such that even Jerry Garcia would have been envious (had the Grateful Dead had the chops to play klezmer). What blows my mind is not just how good this is as a dance band, but how much I love to work to it. The music seems to make it easier to concentrate, and then, periodically, as if waking from a deep sleep, I am suddenly aware of a passage of music so intense, so perfect, that I take pause for a few seconds before resuming my labors. This is the CD to give friends, whether they know from klezmer or not. And I'll stop writing because I am moving into mush territory. It's that good.

Personnel this recording:
Christian Dawid: C-Clarinet, Baraban (CD 1 track 5)
Tamás Gombai: Violin (Solo on CD 1 tracks 8-11; Violin 1 on CD 1 tracks 2-3, 6-7; CD 2 track 4)
Joshua Horowitz: Tsimbl, 19th Century Button Accordion
Zsolt Kürtösi: Three-string Bass, Three-string Cello (CD 1, tracks 12-17: CD 2, track 16)
Cookie Segelstein: Violin (Solo on CD 1 tracks 15-17, CD 2 tracks 8-9; Violin 1 on CD 2 tracks 11, 12-13, 16)
Sándor D. Tóth: Three-string Bratsch (Viola), Baraban (Drum)

Songs

Follow links to listen to songs, courtesy of CDbaby.com

CD 1

    Galitsiye

  1. Mekhels Basmiden 0:57
  2. Mekhels Shwartse Khasene 2:18
  3. Gramester Fun der Khupe 1:24
  4. Cimpulunger Mitsve Tants 4:57
  5. Galitsiyaner Sher 3:20
  6. Podoloy

  7. Rakhover Tsum Tish 1:54
  8. Rakhover Pékho 3:14
  9. Transylvania

  10. Vargas Verbunk 1:38
  11. Vargas Învîrtita 1:48
  12. Vargas Legényes 0:51
  13. Vargas Szapora 1:13
  14. Kiev

  15. Josefs Tish Nign 2:42
  16. Margulis Sher 1:08
  17. Dawids Sher 3:00
  18. Volakhay

  19. Doina Af Tsvey Strunes 2:19
  20. Schwartz Duda 0:48
  21. Haida Nani 3:36

CD 2

    Vitebsk

  1. Mindlins Redele 2:06
  2. Goldbergs Tatar Tants 1:32
  3. Schwartz Beygele 1:31
  4. Bughicis Sîrba 2:29
  5. Budowitzer Bulgarish 2:42
  6. Volhynia

  7. Voliner Khtsos 2:52
  8. Pedotsers Sîrba mit Variatsyes 3:30
  9. Mogilev

  10. Libuke Layuke 2:23
  11. Kutshemay 2:06
  12. Tkhine fun Yas 3:58
  13. Hopinkes Redele 2:28
  14. Bukovina

  15. Shiyas Doina 4:14
  16. Sokyrianer Hora 1:48
  17. Di Groyse Hora 4:54
  18. Tshernovitser Sher 3:07
  19. Bessarabye

  20. Drúshpen 3:37

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