Kapelye / On the Air

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For more information:

About Kapelye

Living Traditions Foundation

For booking and info, e-mail Kapelye.

Album cover: monochrome photo of the band in front of an old-fashioned radio mike.

On the Air

Shanachie, 1995 (LC 5762)

New York's Kapelye, along with the San Francisco Bay Area's Klezmorim, defined the beginning of the klezmer revival. By the time their third album, Chicken, was released back in the '80s, Kapelye on record began to sound as though the band members were having fun. But, unlike the Klezmorim with their '20s jazz and Russian rap shtick, Kapelye was "just" music. Until now. "Kapelye On the Air" is a concept album in which the band mimics old-time Yiddish radio stations around the U.S. It gives them an opportunity not only to span the breadth of Yiddish music and klez, but to have ferocious and wonderful fun doing it. The music runs the gamut from traditional Jewish liturgical music to a Yiddish parody of "16 tons" ("You load 16 tons/of pastrami....") to the "Yiddish Charleston". By itself, that would be enough for mere music aficionados, but the wordplay also includes plenty of wonderful Yiddish in-jokes in the spirit of the occasion. My favorite is the "Mystery Soprano" brought to us by "Mama Lotion" (Yiddish for "the Mother Tongue"). This album is even more fun than the Austin Klezmorim playing a jazz backdrop to a Lord Buckley-esque story of Purim!

--reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6/28/95

Personnel this recording:
Eric Berman: tuba, string bass, trombone, announcer
Adrienne Cooper: vocals, announcer
Ken Maltz: clarinets, vocals, announcer
Henry Sapoznik: tenor banjo, five-string banjo, guitar, vocals, announcer
Pete Sokolow: piano, keyboard, saxes, vocals, announcer

Our friends are:
Lauren Brody: accordion, Bulgarian vocal, heckler
Dick Defreitas: announcer
Shelly Horn: drums
Shlomo Livani: snare ("The Star Spangled Banner")
Dan Peck: five-string banjo, announcer
Lorin Sklamberg: vocals
Deborah Strauss: fiddle


    WDAS, Philadelphia, The Kandel-Kelvinator Program
  1. Introduction
  2. Unzer Toyrele
  3. Di Mame Iz Gegangen/Di Saposhkelekh
  4. Naftule Shpilt Far Dem Rebn - Heyser Bulgar
  5. WCOP, Boston, Jews in the News

  6. Introduction
  7. Levine, Der Groyser Man
  8. WSBC, Chicago, Radio Girl: Mystery Soprano

  9. Introduction
  10. Di Primadonna
  11. WBBC, Brooklyn, Brooklyn Talent Hunters

  12. Introduction
  13. Sixteen Tons
  14. WEVD, New York, Khanele the Khazente

  15. Introduction
  16. Kol Adoyshem Yekholel Ayolos
  17. WHN, New York, Yiderbugs

  18. Introduction
  19. Samson and Delilah
  20. Two Cents Plain
  21. Abi Gezint
  22. KGFJ, Los Angeles, A Gast in Shtib

  23. Introduction
  24. Di Lustige Khsidim
  25. Berditchever Khusidl/Mazel Tov Mekhutonim
  26. Ikh Hob Gekent a Meydele
  27. Dem Nayem Sher

After the fact, I should also note that Kapelye has gone through some major reorganization since their earlier recordings. Among the most notable, Michael Alpert is gone (weep)--although he's now recording and performing with Brave Old World, but Adrienne Cooper, amazing chanteuse and wonderful stage presence, is now part of the band (hallelujah). Keep an eye out for something new--Cooper has a solo album of wonderful Yiddish song out, just her voice accompanied by piano. Ari sez, "check it out!"

--Additional comments by Ari Davidow, 6/29/95

Kapelye has three previous releases. Here are the vital statistics, plus what I wrote about them at or near the time:

Future & Past
Flying Fish, 1981 (FLY 249)
now dist. by Rounder Records

Levine and his Flying Machine
Shanachie, 1984 (21006)

[B+]. My friend Laurie, who nit picks each new klez album with me, considers Kapelye a great band. To me, they lack a certain excitement. The band was possibly formed around Henry Sapoznik, who is the East Coast equivalent of the Klezmorim's Lev Liverman-- except that Henry is much more dry and less interesting in concert. This is their second album. I like it marginally better than the first, but I refuse to get excited. Hey, guys just like to have fun, but these guys seem to feel that having too much fun on a record wouldn't be quite, kosher. The title song is a fun novelty item, however, and most of the other cuts are interesting and worth hearing at least once or twice.

Shanachie, 1989 (21007)

Personally, I love the song "Chicken," and the rest of the album isn't bad, either. This was the first time I heard the song, "Vot ken you makh? Es iz Amerika?" even though there is at least one compilation of old 78s including the original version. Of course, that was then. Now, even Dutch bands like "Die Gojim" sing it. Harumph.

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