Mike Curtis Klezmer Quartet / Streetsong

Album cover: Delightful watercolor of rainbow-colored buildings and people in the street

Mike Curtis Klezmer Quartet

Louie Records, 1997 Louie 006

Louie Records
644 SW Fifth St., Corvallis, OR 97333 USA

This is one of the most charming jazz klezmer albums that I have heard in a long time, and certainly the first since Shira's "soaked and salted" to stay on the CD changer for a long while. The band is an offshoot of Jack Falk's lovely Oomph International, with more focus on the klezmer-jazz fusion, and no vocals. What I especially like is the strong klezmer melodies nicely fused with occasional Jazz chord progressions. The result isn't exactly a klezmer album, but neither is it "only" jazz, either. It is also much more strongly related to klezmer than, say, the recent work of klezmer revival pioneer Andy Statman, who's most recent work is much closer to traditional jazz.

So, having wasted all of this time describing what the band isn't, let's talk about very tightly intertwined ensemble playing. There is also an atmosphere of peace. The "Shver and Shviger Tanz," for instance, is perhaps more jazzy than klezmer, but what a sweetness! The same can be said of the improvisation on the "Freylachs fun der Khupe," where the band is obviously playing straight-ahead, nicely improvisational jazz, with touches of classical and even funk, to a klezmer theme. The follow-up, "Kostakowsky Freylach" is much more klez-ish, although without the agressive playing that is the hallmark of most wedding parties. And then, to show that this is not just an overlay of klezmer on top of jazz, we have the lovely title song in which the rhythm is entirely a stately klezmer dance, while the reeds wander, jazz-like.

All-in-all, a most enjoyable outing, and one of the best, and most comfortable, fusions of klezmer and jazz to cross my CD changer for a long time (lovely CD cover, too). I also appreciate the Wolf Kosakowsky selections. Ari sez "check it out!".

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 11/9/97

Personnel this recording:
Mike Curtis: clarinet, soprano sax, tarogato
Dave Leslie: keyboards, accordion
Dan Scollard: electric bass
Dave Storrs: drums


  1. Russian Sher (trad., arr. M. Curtis) 3:46
  2. Hey Judah (M. Curtis) 4:25
  3. Troublesome Freylach (D. Leslie) 2:43
  4. Rumanian Hora, Chusidl, & Bulgar (Trad., adapted M. Curtis) 4:29
  5. Kasimierz (D. Leslie) 5:21
  6. Shver un Shviger Tanz (trad., arr. M. Curtis) 2:18
  7. Alcazaba (M. Curtis/D. Leslie) 6:29
  8. Freylachs fun der Khupe (trad., arr. MCKQ) 6:26
  9. Kostakowsky Freylach (trad., adopted M. Curtis) 1:51
  10. Street Song (trad., arr. MCKQ) 4:47
  11. Kostakowsky Bulgar (trad., adopt. M. Curtis) 1:57
  12. A Klezmer Wedding (M. Curtis) 6:55
  13. Bei Mir Bistu Shein (S. Secunda, arr. MCKQ) 5:24
  14. Galician Sher/Yikhes (trad., arr. M. Curtis) 5:32

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