Klezamir / Cooks for Tante Barbara

Album cover: Fun colorized shot of the band.

Cooks for Tante Barbara

CD/MP3s available from the band website.

In some ways this new disk by Klezamir reminds me of the first Maxwell St. Klezmer album. The opening "Araber Tants/Kalisky bulgar" parallels the "Mi Yimalel" opening of the older album. The choice of strong traditional material is equally similar. This would be pretty good, even if that's all there was to this album. That first Maxwell St. album is still one of my favorites.

But, you know, different band, different strokes, new ways of having fun. This is a band that I'd really, really like to see live--they sound like they'd blow everyone off the stage and have a lot of fun (and be fun to watch) doing it. They cook up some really nice yiddishkeit. Despite a dozen recordings of "Bei mir bistu sheyn" in recent years, the one recorded here shines, as do "Ki tinam" and "Chicken." "Di mashke" feels less comfortable--some of that may be the bar mitzvah beat behind it--unusually noticable in a band that is otherwise far more inventive. It's especially fun to enjoy this version of "Chicken" and then to contrast with the Kapelye version (which I also loved, but didn't end "have tofu but don't eat chickeeeeeeeen....."). The clarinet has a lot of fun, and the piano is unusually tasty. (I just realized that there isn't much piano in traditional klez. This album makes a strong case to rethink that tradition. The flute is also quite superb, not just on the opening number, but notably on the "Gas nign/Skotshne" medley, as well.) Finally, the album closes with one of my fave novelty tunes, "Miami Beach Rhumba." What could be bad?

About the only thing I can really complain about is the backwards placement of Yiddish song titles relative to the English/transcriptions. It is not a good idea to have them start on opposite sides of the page facing each other with the huge, varying white space in between. But that's the typographer in me speaking, not the listener. The listener is pretty excited!

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 2/3/96

P.S. Having viewed the band live at a Purim dance, I can confirm my statement early in the review that this band is fun in concert, and can keep playing with fun and excitement so long as anyone can move a leg. ari, 3/17/96.

Personnel this recording:
Rhoda Bernard: vocals, tambourine, piano on #10
Jim Armenti: clarinet, guitar, vocals, mandolin
Amy Rose: piano, flute, vocals
Neil Zagorin: drums
Joe Blumenthal: bass


  1. Araber tants / Kalisky bulgar (trad. arr. Klezamir) 4:56
  2. Bay mir bistu sheyn (Secunda / Jacobs / Cahn / Chaplin, arr. Klezamir) 3:03
  3. Di mashke (whisky) (Mikhl Gordon, arr. Klezamir) 4:12
  4. Doina / Baym Rebn in Palestine (trad. arr. Klezamir) 6:17
  5. Ki Tinam (Because you're so pleasurable) (Lyrics: M. Kashtan, Music: Gil Aldema, arr. Amy Rose) 2:47
  6. Chicken (Music and first verse: Rubin Doctor; second verse: Henry Sapoznik) 4:55
  7. Khsidim tants / Tsurik fun der milkhome (trad.) 2:38
  8. Mayn elterns fargenign (My parents pleasure) (trad.) 2:54
  9. Di zilberne khasene (trad. / lyrics by Rosalie Gerut, Betty Silberman, Miriam Hoffman) 4:00
  10. Gas-nign / Skotshne (Street Song / Skotshne) (Transcribed by Moshe Beregovski from G. Gershfeld and M. Slobodskii, Ukraine, in the 1930s, arr. Amy Rose) 4:47
  11. Ne platsh mame (Don't cry honey) (Gilrod/Sandler, arr. Klezamir) 2:30
  12. Miami Beach Rhumba (Fields/Tauber, arr. Klezamir) 2:37

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