Adrienne Cooper / Enchanted
From co-founding KlezKamp to teaching generations of singers how to sing Yiddish, to hundreds of performances in which she demonstrates how to sing Yiddish—how to SING!, Adrienne Cooper has been a driving force in making Yiddish song something that one notices and that one longs to hear more of. Her repertoire over the years has ranged from art song to theatrical, and of course, traditional Yiddish song.
This CD reveals all of those faces of Adrienne Cooper. Opening with the driving peace anthem, in Yiddish, English, and Hebrew, Sholem Lid (Peace in the Streets), adapted by her in response to the Second Intifada and featuring both Cooper's voice and that of her daughter, poet/singer Sarah Mina Gordon (Yiddish Princess, etc.), Cooper then presents new, beautiful faces to several traditional songs, reminding us that regardless of anything else she does, for many of us listeners, this is the voice of Yiddish song. Even when she moves to the theatric chestnut, "Gefilte Fish," the combination of Cooper's voice and Michael Winograd's brilliant arrangements makes it all new.
But the wonder of this album isn't just the breadth and quality of Adrienne Cooper's voice, or the quality and neshama of the young musicians in the ensemble—the same musicians who are creating a rennaisance in Jewish music, themselves. It is the living proof that beautiful new Yiddish song is still being written, and of how much poets still have to say with Yiddish. Especially notable are songs from the wonderful Jenny Romaine puppet play of years ago, "The Memoir of Gluckl of Hameln" with music by Frank London demonstrate a thoroughly modern outlook, from the historical "The Ballad of How the Jews got to Europe" to markedly unsentimental—but true—"Glückel's Ballad of Mother Love" (another especially notable duet with daughter Sarah Gordon). But there are other new songs, more traditional in sound, and already new classics such as Beyle Schaechter Gottesman's "Harbstlid" (Autumn Song), Josh Waletzky's "Bahelferl" (The Helper, referring to the founder of the Hassidic movement, the Baal Shem Tov), or Polina Shepherd's setting of Hirsh Blohstein's "Di bekhers mit vayn" (the glasses of wine).
Were this all that was on the CD, dayenu—it would be enough. The most thrilling moment for me, though, is the song collage, "Lider Bukh" (song book) which features a waxed disk recording of her grandfather, davening, and at the very end, capturing a baby Adrienne Cooper in the background. Inspired in part by a recent song from Moldovan singer/songwriter Efim Chorny which Cooper sings, and which forms part of the collage, it blows my mind. I listen to it over and over trying to deconstruct each piece and then letting the whole collage flow by, again, until the final recording of her grandmother, on the phone, saying goodbye to her children. Assembled by Marilyn Lerner, along with the rest of the crew, this is one of the pieces that I suspect I will never stop listening to.
The album closes with the folk tune, "A gute vokh" (a good week). This is a CD that, more than most, promises not just a good week, but a good year. If I have been tardy in my review, it is because I cannot let it go. For lovers of Yiddish music; for lovers of all the human voice can do and the humanity in all of us, this is an essential recording. And, oh, it is so much fun, and such a joy to hear.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 24 Sep 2011.
Personnel this recording:
Adrienne Cooper: vocals
Michael Winograd: music director, clarinet, keyboard
Marilyn Lerner: piano
Frank London: trumpet
Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion
Avi-Fox Rosen: guitars/back-up vocal
Patrick Farrell: accordion
Benji Fox-Rosen: bass/back-up vocal
Jon Singer: marimba, glockenspiel, percussion
Sarah Gordon: vocals
Dan Blacksberg: trombone
Petr Cancura: saxophone
Brandon Seabrook: banjo
Ben Holmes: trumpet
Ayelet Rose Gottlieb: back-up vocals
- Peace in the Streets—Sholem lid (Khasidic traditional, Adapted by Adrienne Cooper, English verse: Sarah Mina Gordon, Arranged: Adrienne Cooper and Michael Winograd) 5:39
- In the Darkness—In der finster (Zishe Landau, Arranged: Frank London and Marilyn Lerner) 4:44
- Bear from the Forest—Ber fun vald (Folksong, Arranged: Michael Winograd) 2:50
- My Unrest—Umru mayne (Lyrics: Moyshe Leyb Halpern Music: Ben Yomen Arranged: Michael Winograd) 4:28
- Borsht (Lyrics: Meir Kharatz, Music: Fima Chorny, Arranged: Michael Winograd) 2:01
- Gefilte Fish (Ruben Doctor, Arranged: Michael Winograd) 3:36
- The Ballad of How the Jews Got to Europe (Lyrics: Adrienne Cooper Music: Frank London, Arranged: Michael Winograd; Yiddish translation/adaptation: Michael Wex, from Jenny Romaine/Great Small Works' "The Memoir of Gluckl of Hameln") 3:07
- The Helper—Bahelferl (Josh Waletsky, Arranged: Michael Winograd) 4:05
- A Song Book: My Family—A lider bukh (Sound collage: Marilyn Lerner, Lyrics: Meir Kharatz, Music: Fima Chorny
- Cups of Wine—Di bekhers mit vayn (Polina Shepherd/Hirsh Blohstein, arr. Marilyn Lerner and Michael Winograd) 4:14
- Glückl's Ballad of Mother Love (Lyrics and Music: Adrienne Cooper, Yiddish translation/adaptation: Michael Wex, Arranged: Michael Winograd ; from Jenny Romaine/Great Small Works' "The Memoir of Gluckl of Hameln") 3:33
- Autumn Song—Harbstlid (Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, Arranged: Michael Winograd and Avi Fox-Rosen) 4:25
- A Good Week—A gute vokh (Khasidic traditional, Arranged: Marilyn Lerner and Michael Winograd 3:30