Fishel Bresler / In Vald

Affected, distressed type.

Fishel Bresler /
In Vald, 2017
Available as a disk or download from CD

If you live in the Boston area, as I do, you will have run across Fishel Bresler and his magical clarinet playing. He has a local band in Providence, RI (nearby?), and regularly performs public gigs with a friend or two. He is also the go-to person when visitors need a klezmer clarinet (or just a very "Yiddish-sounding" voice). What I never stopped to think until the release of this CD was how broadly his skills extended. Like Brooklyn-based clarinet player Andy Statman, Breshler is not just at home with traditional Jewish music. He has fun roots in American music ranging from bluegrass and jazz to aforementioned klezmer. Listening to it all in one place is a treasure.

The album opens with a fun klezmerish mish mash called "Hoo Hah," and from there we are treated to the lonesome harmonica and jazz stylings of "America." Joined by a who's who of local musicians, including Klezmer Conservatory Band's Jim Guttman, Andy Statman's bass player Jim Whitney, Shirim/Naftule's Dream alum, Jazz Composer stalwart Dave Harris, long-time concert collaborator Shelley Katsh, Greek/Ottoman maven Beth Bahia Cohen, and a dozen others, this album is a gem. Fishel, himself, hops from clarinet (his main instrument) to mandolin, sax, picolo, harmonica. He dives more deeply into Jazz as the recording proceeds, most notably in an improvisation with Roswell Rudd (anchored by Jim Whitney's bass), "Big heart full of tears."

Did I mention that Fishel also plays klezmer? Take a listen to his perfectly-styled "Wedding Hora" or the soulful title track, not to mention "Zhok Cousteau" or his tribute to Andy Statman, "Statman The Herring King" (also a tribute to Popeye, the Sailor Man). The latter two feature his harmonica, as does "From Sadegur to Memphis" (along with a host of other instruments). There are also some beautiful Jewish hymns and nigunim such as "Libi U'vsari" (my heart and my body), or his beautiful, somewhat playful, "Motsoei Shabbos." My favorite, though, may be the closing guitar version of the Ropshitzer nign, "Shir Ha'Shirim."

This recording is a gem. It doesn't just highlight the skills and soul of a local musician. It highlights the breadth and depth and spirituality of a local musician that I have always taken for granted. I am so wrong. This is one of my favorite "traditional" recordings of the year. Don't let it pass you by.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 15 Apr 2018.

Personnel this recording:
Fishel Bresler: clarinet, harmonica, flute, mandolin, guitar, saxophone, piccolo, kazoo, records, percussion
Beth Cohen: violin [2, 4, 5, 9]
Bahia Cohen: viola [4, 9]
Seth Grunfeld: cello [4]
Jim Guttmann: trombone [3, 5, 6, 7, 8]
Dave Harris: trombone[3, 5, 6, 8]
Shelley Katsh: piano [3, 4, 6, 8, 9]
Michael Mechanic: bassoon [7]
Rakalam Bob Moses: drums, percussion [4]
Cory Pesaturo: accordion [1, 10]
Roswell Rudd: trombone [2, 11]
Bob Weiner: drums, percussion [1, 3, 5, 6, 8]
Jim Whitney: bass violin [11]
Leslie Vogel: piano [2]


  1. Hoo-Hah! (Fishel Bresler) 2:51
  2. America (Fishel Bresler) 5:01
  3. Wedding hora (Emil Kroitor) 2:29
  4. In vald—In the forest (Fishel Bresler) 4:10
  5. Hadek Hetev—Grind it well (Fishel Bresler) 4:00
  6. Harmonica Sweet (Fishel Bresler)—next three songs

  7. Zhok Cousteau 2:03
  8. Statman The Herring King 1:03
  9. Slide step 2:10
  10. Libi U'Vsari (Rabbi Meir Shapira of Lublin) 3:52
  11. Motsoei Shabbos—Saturday night (Fishel Bresler) 2:50
  12. Big heart full of tears (Fish Bresler and Roswell Rudd) 7:05
  13. From Sadegur to Memphis (Fishel Bresler/Trad.) 5:02
  14. Shir HaShirim—Song of songs (Ropshitz hassidim; possibly Rebbe Naftali Tzvi Horowitz) 1:58

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