Solomon & Socalled
Piranha Music CD-PIR1789, 2003
Is the stereotypical Jewish wedding ripe for deconstruction? Is it time to move beyond the last generation's shtick and create an entirely new shtick? Can I possibly make the rhetorical more obvious?
From the smart-alec sampling and voice that opens the CD, to the sampling of the hiphopkhasene itself that closes the album, this is tremendous fun, great music, and it's about time!. The contrast between Zev Feldman's tsimbl, followed by Michael Alpert playing the role of badkhn (who else!), immediately followed by a clip from an old wedding LP explaining the badkhn's role, this album is an absolutely wonderful fusion of incredible new music: Feldman, Alpert, David Krakauer on clarinet, Frank London on trumpet, Solomon and Ste on violin, all mixed in with great samples of LPs past, and some really nifty wit - Socalled's rap on marriage as an archaic and oppressive institution, included.
There are a few things that make this recording special. First, there is the post-modern deconstruction/reconstruction of the Jewish wedding, itself. Then, as I said, there is the music. The combination of Alpert's witty Yiddish badkhus playing off Socalled's rap make this less a separation from the past, than a sympathetic reconstruction; a continuity with the past that reflects the way in which modern Jewish lives are lived less within one context, but are, in reality, fragments of intersecting roles and memberships and contexts. Listen to "alt. shul Kale Bazetsn" and you'll hear what I mean, but it hardly stops there. There changing of the Sheva Brachos with samples from today and from the fifties setting the soundtrack is a gas. The fusion is also, true to post-modern style, quite self-conscious. Thus, for many pieces the languages: hebrew, english, yiddish are noted for those who would not otherwise know (and, perhaps as a signification of the languages specific to the English-speaking Jewish-of-Ashkenazic-descent subculture of the mid-58th century).
This is the second foray into the world of Jewish hiphop by album partner Socalled (aka Josh Dolgin), whose "Hip Hop Seder" excited a lot of folks a couple of years ago. Sophie Solomon, the other partner in this khasene is the electric, intense violinist in the UK's rising "Oi Va Voy." Both have been known to perform (and to teach) impeccable traditional klezmer, and are among the most exciting of the latest generation of emerging new klezmorim. This album is further proof that neither klezmer, nor Jewish music in its breadth, remains static. As was true a hundred years ago, the concept of Jewish music expands and changes to reflect the music around us. Yet, there is still that funky core, as demonstrated on a very funky version of the joyous (in this instances, sometimes also actively sceptical) Second Avenue "Hopkele."
To me, these are the meat of the album. The album ends with remixes by Dolgin, and then by Smadj, continue the process, creating a sort of meta hiphop khasene, remixes of the remix, starting with a fascinating "Dobriden" that is also a discourse, in part, on both the process of the wedding and of the making of the album. By the time of the final remix, what is left is a sort of universal world dance beat w/khasene samples. Which, if you think about it, is what a good wedding celebration is all about. The summary is simple. This album is brilliant, fun, and brilliant fun. It's about time someone did this. Solomon and Dolgin and friends were clearly the people to do it right.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow 11/23/03
Personnel this recording:
Solomon: violin, 5string violectra, viora cu goarna
Socalled: beats, loops, samples
Very special guest:
David Krakauer: clarinet (& krakmanvocalfreestylin title 9)
Michael Alpert: badkhones (titles 3-5, 7 & 14), vocals (9), sekund fidl (2, 4)
Nik Ammar: guitar (10, 11), pint glass (11)
Josh Dolgin: vocals (5, 8, 9, 12, 14), accordion, fender rhodes, glockenspiel, hammond organ, piano, pianorgan, wurlitzer
W. Zev Feldman: tsimbl (2, 4, 6, 13)
Sol Gunner: bass (12, 13), violin (12)
Don Headgear: live samples (5)
Elaine Hoffman-Watts: drums (4, 9)
Susan Hoffman-Watts: trumpet & vocals (8), trumpet solo (9)
Frank London: lead trumpet & vocals (8), trumpet (9)
MC Dick van Myke: nicecupofteavocal (5)
Philip Shaw Bova: drums (13)
Smadj: oud (14)
Cantor Sam Weiss: vocal sample (13)