Frank London / Music from the movie, The Shvitz

Album cover: This cover gives punk klez a bad name.

Frank London
Music from the movie, The Shvitz

Knitting Factory Works
47 East Houston St.,
New York, NY 10012

Klez as acid jazz. Or something. I love it. Frank London and his usual band, the Klezmatics, and the Bay-Area-based New Klezmer Trio have defined a new way of thinking about klezmer. If you think of the original American klezmers and their contributions to early jazz, perhaps these bands are the favor returned: rock and jazz musicians come home to klez and bringing a new wave of influences. Compare the version of "Vus vet zayn" on this album with that on the second Flying Bulgar Klezmers, "Agada." Compare the sense of transcending klez here to the experimental, but still absolutely klez feel of the new Klezmatics album, Jews with Horns.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6/28/95

By way of additional information, here is the original album press release:


New York, NY--Knitting Factory Works is proud to announce the release of Frank London's first solo CD, The Shvitz, the soundtrack of Jonathan Berman's film of the same name (in case you're wondering, the word means "sweat" or "steambath"). The music, composed by London, features the Klezmatics, the world's foremost experimental/traditional klezmer group with some of NY's most exciting creative musicians, including Elliott Sharp, Marc Ribot, Jim Leff and DJ Nastee. More than a soundtrack recording, however, The Shvitz CD is an exciting document of the interface of klezmer (traditional Jewish music) and downtown new music (which in itself combines elements of jazz, classical, and punk rock).

There is currently a renaissance of interest in living Jewish culture, and Frank London is at the center of it. Through his work with the Klezmatics, the Hassidic New Wave, John Zorn, Yosi Piamenta, Allen Ginsberg, the Flying Karamazov Brothers, Simon Shaheen and many other groups in traditional communities, London is exploring Jewish music from the inside as well as pushing its boundaries. On The Shvitz CD, klezmer has mutated and combined with punk, hard-core, and free-jazz, smashing genres with Yiddish house music, melancholy melodies a la film composer Nino Rota, aggressive guitar solos, and more. Poetry and dialogue from the film frame this truly eclectic disc.

The Shvitz film is a 50 minute documentary which looks at urban life and the art of sweating through the remaining traditional steambaths or shvitzes. Entertaining, humourous and authentic, the film has won awards as one of the most creative short works of the year, and opened festivals both in the U.S. and internationally. The Shvitz was featured on the arthouse film circuit in 1994 as NY IN SHORT. Jonathan Berman, director of the film, chose to create an enviroment that reflected both his personal identification with the Jewish men's club ambience of the baths and the current diversity/trendiness of downtown life. Berman is currently producing a New York based feature film as well as a documentary about his friend a bank robber.

Trumpeter/ Composer London tours and records with Les Miserables Brass Band, LL Cool J, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Lester Bowie, LaMonte Young, Mel Torme and others. In addtion to The Shvitz, his film scoring credits include the critically acclaimed short film The Debt., and The Brother From Another Planet.

The filmmaker, Jonathan Berman, reports that the film is available from Burelle's: 1-800-777-8398. He also reports that the first pressing of the record just sold out! Awwwl right! (Now, if they'd just think about comprehension and/or reasonable grunge fun and retypeset the notes before reprinting. Sigh.)

Personnel this recording:
Frank London: trumpet, voice, keyboard
David Licht: drums
Sebastian Steinberg: bass
Alicia Svigals: violin
Lorin Sklamberg: vocals, accordion, keyboards
Elliott Sharp: guitar
Marc Ribot: guitar
Robert Musso: guitar
Jim Leff: trombone
Greg Wall: clarinet, tenor sax
Matt Darriau: clarinet, alto sax
Christopher Cauley: alto sax


  1. Bucket Cue 0:24
  2. Freaky Guitar Freylekhs 0:40
  3. (How to) Sweat (Part 1) 2:40
  4. Emma Goldman's Wedding 4:13
    (a) Desire (b) Dance to It
  5. Now to the shvitz 0:04
  6. V'erastikh Li (Divine Betrothal) poem by Celia Dropken 5:30
  7. Take One 3:24
  8. Full Moon, Ancient Waters 3:29
  9. Psycho-Klezmer (from the repertoire of Naftule Brandwein) 4:29
  10. Kolomeyke 2:35
  11. Coney Island Heyday 1:13
  12. V'erastikh Li (Divine Betrothal) Instrumental 6:13
  13. Der Neier Freylekhs 1:07
  14. Vus Vet Zayn (What will it be like when the Moshiach comes?) 4:45
  15. Have Another 1:09
  16. It's hot in here! 0:08
  17. (How to) Sweat Parts 1 & 2 (Dance Mix) 6:15

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