Metropolitan Klezmer / Mosaic Persuasion

great idea, kinda icky mosaic execution and mundane faux artistic fonts

Metropolitan Klezmer
Mosaic Persuasion

Rhythm Media Records, 2001, RMR 002

Available from, itunes, and other fine online vendors

I have long contended that the Metropolitan Klezmer Band is just about the best klezmer band to drive from Boston to New York to hear. This album will further cement that reputation, and help explain why this album was placed n the "Best of 2000" great recordings list.

The band, smoking, jazzy, under incredibly tight, precise control, sets off with a couple of dances done not too fast, not too slow, but so right that your feet begin moving around the room. "Brandwein in the Lotus Groove," melds some perfect jazz rhythm with some classic Brandwein. But just as the instrumentalists have gotten tighter, vocalist Deborah Karpel, as close to a weak link as the band has had, demonstrates a new assurance on the Picon hit, "Abi Gezunt." Although her vocals are a bit too coy on "Lomir zikh iberbetn" (a song that will forever remind me of the Bonzo Dog Band cover, "Let's make up and be friendly"), she makes up for it with an excellent reading of Itzik Manger's "Unter di Khurves fun Poyln" (Under the ruins of Poland), and the rest of the band, are impeccable. And that's the tone for the album: pounding traditional klezmer, or even rollicking untraditional klezmer as on the "Humphrey Bulgar", perfectly set Yiddish Broadway (well, New York Second Ave.), and the occasional Balkan digression, as on Butera's arrangement of "Üsküdar Taxim" merging into another Brandwein tune, "Terk in Amerike" and reminding us of the Brandwein tune's roots.

The thing is, while this band plays jazz quite well, they also manage to strike a far eastern, very traditional tune on numbers such as the concluding "Szól a Kakas Már" and "Araber Tants". With Metropolitan Klezmer, one gets to have one's cake--modern, bouncy, jazzy music--and eat it to--to dance to traditional, impeccably timed and performed instrumental klezmer music.

It is worth noting that this recording, like many performances, also features bandleader Sicular's all-woman ensemble, "Isle of Klezbos." The resulting super-ensemble is proof that two great bands can add up to even more. It also provides an excuse to present goodies such as Pam Fleming's thoughtfully danceful, Epstein-Brothers hinted, "Rifka's Dream".

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 25 Mar 2001

Personnel this recording:
Ismail Butera: accordion, bendir
Steve Elson: clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor sax
Pam Fleming: trumpet, flügelhorn
Rachelle Garniez: accordion, harmony vocals
Michael Hess: violin, viola, ney flute, kanun
Dave Hofstra: bass, tuba
Deborah Karpel: vocals
Debra Kreisberg: clarinet, alto sax
Eve Sicular: drums
Harris Wulfson: violin


  1. Kalarash/Dancing with Chairs (trad., arr. Eve Sicular/MK) 2:55
  2. Brandwein in the Lotus Groove (trad., arr. Eve Sicular & Dave Hofstra) 2:13
  3. Northern Doyna/An Alter Nigun/Abi Gezunt (trad., arr. Butera/trad., arr. Eve Sicular, IoK/lyrics: Molly Picon; music: Abe Ellstein; arr. MK/IoK) 6:34
  4. Samovar Freylekhs (trad., arr. MK/IoK) 2:36
  5. Mayn rue plats--My resting place (text: Morris Rosenfeld; arr. Eve Sicular) 3:25
  6. In-Laws' Taxim/Mekhutonim Tants- (trad., arr. Eve Sicular) 3:51
  7. Muzikalisher Tango (text: William "Wolf" Mercur; music: Sam Morgenstern; arr. Eve Sicular, Steve Elson, Pam Fleming, Debra Kreisberg) 3:46
  8. Humphrey Bulgar (music: Jack Boogich; arr. Eve Sicular, Dave Hofstra, MK) 2:16
  9. East(ern) Village Hanuka (trad., arr. Eve Sicular with MK) 1:28
  10. Medyatsiner Waltz (trad., arr. MK/IoK) 2:39
  11. Lomir Zikh Iberbetn--Let's make up (trad., arr. Ismail Butera w/MK) 2:05
  12. Üsküdar Taxim/Terk in Amerike (trad., ar. Ismail Butera w/MK) 5:14
  13. Unter di Khurves fun Poyln--under the ruins of Poland (text: Itsik Manger; music: S. Beresovsky; arr. Ismail Butera) 4:56
  14. Rifka's Dream (Pam Fleming) 2:30
  15. Szól a Kakas Már--The rooster crows (trad., arr. MK) 4:12
  16. Araber Tants (trad., arr. Michael Hess) 4:51

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