The Klezmer Conservatory Band / Live! The Thirteenth Anniversary Album

Album cover: Snaps of some of the band members live.

Klezmer Conservatory Band
Live! The Thirteenth Anniversary Album

Rounder Records 3125, 1993
One Camp Street, Cambridge, MA 02140

The first KCB album blew my socks off. Not long after it was released I saw them in concert at a large synagogue in San Francisco. It was one of those memorable concerts where the band seems to do everything; everything was perfect, the audience danced through the soles of its shoes, and watching Judy Bressler perform "Rumenye Rumenye," especially where she got to the scat part, was a trip.

It's a lot of albums since then. By my count this is number 7 (even discounting the music to the Rabbit Ears Radio production of "The Fool and the Flying Ship"), a record among klez revival bands. These days, a new KCB album usually means good klez, with a nice mix of Yiddish Theatre and Jewish folk music, and perhaps one new, outstanding song. I saw the band in concert again just this past winter (February 1995?) in Stanford. It was a tony crowd. The music was a bit more concertified, but the audience still danced and danced, Judy still did "Rumenye Rumenye" and carefully explained the words to each song she sang. If there was a radical change over the ten years between concerts that I saw it was Miriam Rabson, the violinist, stepping forward more as a soloist and composer. And while Ilene Stohl, the clarinetist, isn't Don Byron (the original KCB clarinet player, now playing Mickey Katz and avant garde-ish jazz), by any other standard she is wonderful.

I have to confess that while I enjoy this album, I am never going to enjoy the weepy "Feygele" as much as Bressler enjoys singing it, I will always run from "The cry of the wild duck," and this version of "And the Angels Sing" doesn't come close to the wonderfulness of the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra's version of the same. On the other hand, Bressler taking on Molly Picon's "Abi Gezunt" is a perfect match, and "Der Hoyfzinger fun Warshever Geto" is a revelation. Some other songs that really rock include the tribute to the Epstein brothers, "The Epsteins," modern Jewish wedding music at its best, and Miriam Rabson's tour-de-force, "Klezzified."

The Klezmer Conservatory Band is the largest klezmer group that comes to mind. It's a wonderful big band klez sound. The solid wall of horns is an awful lot of fun. There are some things that can only be played with an orchestra's worth of horns, and some types of klez and Yiddish theatre music fit that mold, perfectly. Judy Bressler also performs in a Yiddish/Cabaret show when not touring. The CD is, as one would expect from the KCB, nicely annotated with the words and translations to each of the songs (those that have words).

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 7/8/95

Personnel this recording:
Judy Bressler: vocals, tambourine
Ilene Stahl: clarinet
Miriam Rabson: violin
Robin Miller: flute, piccolo
Gary Bohan: cornet
Mark Hamilton: trombone
Merryl Goldberg: soprano, alto, and baritone saxophones
Hankus Netsky: alto saxophone, accordian, piano; band director
Evan Harlan: piano, accordion
Jeff Warschauer: mandolin, guitar, tenor banjo
James Guttmann: bass
Grant Smith: drums, percussion


  1. The Epsteins (Peshe Melnick) 3:31
  2. Medley from "the Fool and the Flying Ship" (Hankus Netsky) 6:21
  3. Adesa Mame Odessa Mama (Peysekhe Burstein) 3:20
  4. Feygele Little Bird (music: Sholom Secunda; lyrics: Israel Rosenberg) 4:07
  5. And the Angels Sing (music: ziggy Elman; lyrics: Johnny Mercer) 2:56
  6. Russian Sher (traditional) 5:57
  7. Abi Gezunt As long as you're healthy (music: Abe Ellstein; lyrics: Molly Picon) 3:47
  8. Fun der KhupeFrom the Wedding Canopy/Oriental Melodies (traditional) 4:26
  9. Der Hoyfzinger fun Varshever Geto The Court-singer of the Warsaw Ghetto (music: traditional; lyrics: Ruth Lifshutz) 4:54
  10. Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym Escorting the in-laws home (Naftule Brandwayn) 4:25
  11. Tum Balalayka Play, Balalaika (traditional) 8:46
  12. Lena from Palesteena (Conrad and Robinson) 2:45
  13. Belz, Mayn Shtetele Belz My Little Town of Belz (music: Alexander Olshanetsky; lyrics: Jacob Jacobs) 5:26
  14. Rumenye, Rumenye (Aaron Lebedoff) 4:38
  15. Dos Geshrey fun der Vilde Katshke The cry of the wild duck (Gilkyson) 3:11
  16. Klezzified (Miriam Rabson) 8:23

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