Davka / Eponymous, 1994
This recording is no longer available. To check out the Davka store, visit http://www.davkamusic.com/discography.htm.
Maybe I set too high a goal in deciding to catch up on reviews of San Francisco Bay Area Klez-related bands. If I look at recordings of the last five years, I don't think anyone has done anything I would regard as klez. This band is no different, although, as is the case with most Bay Area Jewish-derived music, I do enjoy the album.
In this particular case, despite the Ashkenazic Jewish origins of many of the song titles, the music is very much more Middle Eastern in feel, both rhythmically and instrumentally. I would go so far as to say that I enjoy Davka (despite the name. I am awfully tired of nouveau Jewish things called "davka"--Hebrew for "for no reason"--I am both tired of hearing the name over and over, and mistrustful of the lack of commitment it implies).
What fascinates me most, perhaps, is how well this group swings on the Middle Eastern sounding tunes, and how ponderous and Western classical (but certainly not klez-ish and alive in a danceworthy sense) they sound on the "traditional" tunes such as the "Romanian Hora." This isn't a bad thing--if one ignores the origins and thinks of this as music, allows the waves of cello to roll over, and the slow, Western violin to mourn, it is a delightful tune. Just not klez. You can sort of picture Palestinian musicians with some good knowledge of Western classical music playing this piece in just this way. In fact, I'll take this a step further and say that, compared to boring Israeli mideast fusion groups such as the East-West Ensemble, or Bustan, these guys just rock.
So, I guess, were I not reviewing this album so determinedly as a klez album, I could turn things around and say that the best Middle East fusion music that I've heard in years comes from here in the Bay Area, and they even add some Ashkenazic Jewish motifs in with the salad of classical Arabic and Western music styles that Israeli musicians have been trying to fuse for so many years. Yaala! Aiwa! Nowwww I've got it!
Reviewed by Ari Davidow 11/23/95
Personnel this recording:
Adam Levenson: doumbek, frame drum, zarb
Daniel Hoffman: violin
Moses Sedler: cello
- Chutzpani (Davka) 4:10
- Pardes (Davka) 4:16
- Romanian Hora (trad.) 4:20
- Megiddo (Davka) 3:54
- Darka (Davka) 5:35
- Shlomo (Davka) 5:17
- Blaming the Moon (Davka) 5:40
- Tiger Walk (Davka) 4:35
- At the Rabbi's Table (trad.) 3:19
- The Road to Yehupitzville (trad.) 3:48