Breslov Bar Band / Holy Chutzpah
Breslov Bar Band / Holy Chutzpah, 2022
CDs, MP3s available available from Bandcamp and from fine vendors and streaming services everywhere.
I am unnaturally fond of the Breslov Bar Band and all it stands for—not just the joy of nigunim and simkhe as spiritual requirements, but for the unabashed rocking out and fun the band has playing. They are spiritually Breslovers, and an especially spiritual bar band. More emphatically, any excuse to bring together some of my favorite New York musicians is an excuse to celebrate. I also note that sometime in the decade since their last recording, they have added the amazing baritone sax player, Jessica Lurie. Things just get better.
Arrangements go from the deceptively simple, gentle "Lecha dodi," or "V'yeida kol pa'ul" to the glee of "Becha Batchu" as everyone gathers up to the mike to begin the Yeshivish chant. clarinet master Michael Winograd wails in the background; Allen Watsky and Yossi Fruchter rock out on guitar and bass, respectively. Rich Huntley plays a perfect simkhe beat. You are there. Likewise on the frenetic "Hoda'a Medley" or the opening "Biglal Avos": Jessica Lurie's sax, along with clarinet, keyboards—you can just feel the guys pogoing in their hora circle, sweat streaming as each bokher steps into the circle to solo a few steps.… Bandleader Ginzberg's vocals, keys, arrangements reflect decades of experience and a desire to kick back after hours, having fun with it all.
Even when the band slows things down, as on "Shalosh Seudos Nigun," they never forget the beat and somehow, like the sixties' Kinks, wherever they started, wherever they end up, you never forget that this is, first and foremost, a kickass bunch of musicians rocking out. Even more, on songs such as the "Meron medley," or even moreso, "Ashreinu," the roaring bass? keyboards? in the background, with vocals and clarinet in the foreground turn this into a heavy metal prog rock experience worthy of the "Forspil" gang. And despite that heavy metal prog strain, on numbers such as "Firn di tsadikim in Gan Eden," they never forget their klezmerish roots, either.
The album, which was released for Purim 5782 (2022), concludes with a delightful "Purim medley" of rock simplicity and joy, and "The saddest Purim song ever" (not—but it is a great doina and nign).
To paraphrase a popular UK rock reviewer (speaking about the Kinks, in their day—imagine how far that band would have gone if they could play like this!), I am powerfully fond of the Breslov Bar Band. Fortunately, their recordings, on CD or digital download, are easily accessible from Bandcamp and from fine vendors and streaming services everywhere.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 25 September 2022.
Personnel this recording:
Binyomin Ginzberg: Vibrandoneon, vocals, organ, arrangements
Michael Winograd: clarinet
Jessica Lurie: baritone saxophone
Yoshie Fruchter: bass
Allen Watsky: electric guitar
Rich Huntley: drums
- Biglal avos 3:28
- Becha batchu 1:48
- Hoda'a medley 3:09
- Shirat ha'asavim 5:05
- Shalosh seudos nigun 2:54
- Ashreinu 4:42
- Lecha dodi 5:32
- Meron medley 8:06
- V'yeida kol pa'ul 3:04
- Firn di tsadikim in Gan Eden 7:05
- Sabeinu 4:35
- Purim medley 3:35
- Vayavo Amalek—The saddest Purim song ever 5:21
All compositions trad, arr. Binyomin Ginzberg.