Naftule's Dream / Blood
It has been too long since the last Naftule's Dream album. The band continues to develop as much as klezmer- and Eastern European traditional-derived avant garde ensemble, as it develops just as strongly as an avant garde progressive rock band. Soft Machine, meet Naftule Brandwine. Landscapes arise, "Sitting in some training watching the Tuscan landscape go speeding backward. Yet, the band also captures something deeper, something geographically and sociologically situated. Listening to the military drum rolls of "Aby Kirly the War Hero," a freilekh with the occasional absurdist cornet interruptions, one is taken back in time to the world of Joseph Roth's "Radestsky March," brought forward to the time of Trump and Putin, clashing in dystopic disharmony.
I write as though the Jewish roots of Blood are entirely from the Klezmer world. To the contrary, Hasidic nign and Jewish folk melodies also anchor many tuns, as in "Boss Shabbos," which in turns pulls in some Motown groove before returning to the group's free-jazz free-for-all, bookended at the other side by the quieter, more nign-ish "Klez Spiritual," which also features a lovely doina-esque tuba passage by Jim Gray, as well as a gently twisted guitar solo by Andrew Stern. In some cases, the inspiration is textual as much as musical, as in the eponymous "Blood" that gives the album its title. The song was inspired by one of I. B. Singer's stories, in which the lascivious desires of a kosher butcher become mixed in with the slaughter of meat as one world seems to merge with the other.
Blood is a klezmer-driven tone poem, a dark look at the roots of our own disquieting times. But it is also stunningly beautiful. The repeated tuba phrasing in "Calabria," stays in the mind, calming the uneasy celebration of "Boss Shabbos." The opening "Sitting in some train …," the quietly beautiful "Klez Spiritual," the thoughtful introspection of "Blood," all stick in the mind long after the next replay. Pieces like "Chasing Ivo Livi" reprise the earlier steampunk-driven swirling improvisations of the band in its earlier years. It has really been too long. This is really a delightful recording, and the sort of thing for which the KlezmerShack still exists.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 23 July 2016.
Personnel this recording:
Glenn Dickson: clarinets
Gary Bohan: cornet
Michael McLaughlin: accordion
Andrew Stern: electric guitar
Jim Gray: tuba
Eric Rosenthal: drums
- Sitting in some train watching the Tuscan landscape go speeding backward (Michael McLaughlin) 3:43
- Blood (Glenn Dickson) 3:46
- Aby Kirly the War Here (Glenn Dickson) 4:10 =
- Calabria (Michael McLaughlin) 6:20
- Boss Shabbos (Michael McLaughlin) 5:14
- Klez Spiritual (Gary Bohan) 6:20
- Chasing Ivo Livi (Michael McLaughlin) 4:04
- Turkisher (Glenn Dickson) 5:50
- In search of her lullaby (Michael McLaughlin) 4:23