Aufwind / Awek di junge jorn

Album cover: Delightful calligraphy and wash

Awek di junge jorn

Misrach-Music, MSR 0144-2, 1996

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Lucky listeners to last year's Klezmania compilation may have noted the presence of an a capella cut by a German group, Aufwind. The group recently appeared in the United States to some acclaim, and I now have at hand their most recent CD. Called "Awek di junge jorn" (Gone are my younger years--also a pun on their first recordings, now available as "Junge Jorn"), it is a soulful and unique mix of klezmer and Jewish song. The songs range from well-done klezmer melodies, as on the opening "Klespourrie" medley, to the delightful "In schtetl Nikolajew," an a capello version of a Yiddish folksong whose harmonies remind one of the delights of American doo wop.

Aufwind evolved from a fairly hokey German trio in the mid-eighties which performed Jewish folk songs in an affected "rediscovered Jewish folk" style. They quickly evolved beyond that. By the time of their excellent 1992 release, Gassn Singer, they had added two members and perfected instrumental excellence. Their singing had moved from affectionate, but affected distance, to the point where the songs belonged to them in the here and now. No, better than that, the band had already somehow blended popular American song sensibilities and phrases with traditional Jewish musics in a fascinating and soulful blend. This album is the best yet by the band, and continues that delightful fusion.

Although the band is quite adept instrumentally, it is in their singing that I find most delight. The aforementioned "In schtetl Nikolajew" (and the closing, a touch more traditional, "Gasn-nign") is something both delightful and new. Claudia Koch's rendition of "Jidische tango" reminds me of other favorite melds of Jewish and South American melody, such as "Miami Beach". At the same time, her vocals on the title song are flouncily perfect. The band also reaches across the Atlantic not just for vocal styling, but for material, importing "Majn rue-plaz," Morris Rosenfeld's soulful union rallying cry. They then liven things up with the corny, very American-sounding, insouciant "Muess" (Money)--Money is the best thing....". The fact that this song originated anonymously in the Jewish ghettoes of WWII is its own irony (Warsaw? Vilna? Lodz?). By contrast, "Bajm rebn in Palestine" or "Fun tashlich" are exactly as they should be, perhaps lighter than usual. (This is all in stark contrast, I might add, to the effluvia of truly bad recent German klezmer/Jewish music bands. Aufwind are so much their own sound and excellence, that I want to be sure that expectations are sufficiently high.)

In short, klezmer can be considered revived, alive and well in Germany. The silliness about non-blacks not being able to play jazz ... oops, about non-Jews not being able to play klezmer and Jewish music, is noted and relegated to the round file. As a modern band, playing both traditional Jewish celebration melodies, and singing popular Yiddish songs, Aufwind stand out. They are the most pleasant, and in some ways, most innovative example of this tradition that I have heard in many, many months. This is the sort of album produced by people who live and breath and love the music they perform. This is the sort of album that you will purchase and play for many years; that rare and delightful combination of things familiar well-done, and things unfamiliar and/or new done even better.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 1/1/98

Personnel this recording:
Claudia Koch: Gesang, Violine
Hardy Reich: Gesang, Mandoline
Andreas Rohde: Gesang, Bandoneon, Gitarre, Percussion
Jan Hermerschmidt: Klarinette, Gesang
Heiko Rötzscher: Bass


  1. Klespourrie (trad./Koch/Manger) 11:05
    a) Dojna, b) Schtile hora, c) Chassidim tanz, d) Scher, e) Lechajim/Odessa bulgarisch
  2. In schtetl Nikolajew (trad./Medoff) 4:13
  3. Jidisch tango (trad./anonym, arr. Koch/Hermerschmidt) 3:11
  4. Bajm rebn in Palestin/Terkisch jale w'jowe tanz (trad./arr. Aufwind) 6:01
  5. Huljet, bejse wintn (Gelbart/Reisen, arr. Koch/Rohde) 2:30
  6. Schojn awek der nechtn (trad., arr. Koch/Reich) 3:46
  7. Don un Donje (Gelbart/H. Roisenblat, arr. Koch) 4:19
  8. Muess (anonym, arr. Koch) 3:10
  9. Fun taschlich (trad., arr. Koch/Reich/Hermerschmidt) 6:42
  10. Majn rue-plaz (Morris Rosenfeld, arr. Koch) 3:05
  11. Awek di junge jorn/Dojna/Gassn-nign (trad., arr. Koch/Hermerschmidt) 8:37

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