Eden MacAdam-Somer & Hankus Netsky / Give me back my heart

MacAdam-Somer and Netsky so very relaxed! Banal typography

Eden MacAdam-Somer & Hankus Netsky / Give me back my heart, 2022

Available from Bandcamp and better digital and cd shops everywhere.

I first began to be excited about the Klezmer revival back in the 1980s when I heard the first Klezmer Conservatory Band album. Ever since, band-leader Hankus Netsky has managed to combine an infallible instinct for finding unknown Yiddish and Klezmer gems, all of which—as on this new album—sound familiar and ready to resume their places as parts of the best of the repertoire. Before the pandemic, he and fellow co-chair of New England Conservatory's Contemporary Musical Arts Department, Eden MacAdam-Somer, gave a series of concerts highlighting recent discoveries. This impeccable, vivacious recording is the fruit of that work. MacAdam-Somer contributes an excellent voice and delightful violin, working with Netsky's piano, to create almost an hour of Yiddish and Klezmer gems. This is traditional music for those of us who are tired of the same old repertoire, or new to the repertoire, never realized that these haven't been standards all along.

Of special note, of course, are the new pieces from the repertoire of Morris Hollender, an Auschwitz survivor and for many years until his death, a member of the Waltham synagogue Netsky attends. Over the years we have enjoyed Purim-spils and other events featuring Hollender's repertoire. Here, two medleys—"Uncle Shloyme/Holdender Friday Night Tune" and "Uncle Berl/Rabbi Shapiro's Dance Nign", plus the slow waltz "Yeydn fraytik tse nakht (Every Friday in the evening)," composed by Morris's brother Shuli, emphasize how much his musical memory is missed. Of similar special note is "Viglid," discovered hand-written in a suitcase provided by the poet's son to the Yiddish Book Center in 2008, and featuring the music of renowned Polish-Jewish composer Hennoch Kon.

At the same time, it is the revived gems of Yiddish Theatre, such as the love song "Mayn tayere" (my dear one), by Ilya Triling and Oscar Ostroff, ("My life glows with pleasure like moonlight, and my wildest dreams have come true....") complete with lovely scat singing from MacAdam-Somer, along with masterpieces such as "In Droysn is finster" (It's cold outside) from the Ruth Rubin collection, or the title song, a waltz, closing out the recording, "Git mire op mayn harts tsurik" (Give me back my heart), by Herman Yablokoff. I expect to hear these frequently picked up in newer recordings by other musicians soon.

At a talk this summer, speaking of (quoting?) one of his teachers, Leon Schwartz, Hankus said, "If you can't make the fiddle speak, you're not a klezmer." Eden MacAdam-Somer is that, and more. That quote comes to mind several times listening to this recording, but especially on the folksy, bluegrassy, dance/bulgar, again from the Ruth Rubin collection, "Tants, tants/Romanian Bulgar," which also features MacAdam-Somer's' beautiful voice and rhythmic clogging. Netsky's piano accompaniment is superb, propelling the music forward.

Not every piece on this recording is new. Anyone familiar with Yiddish music and Klezmer will hear familiar cadences. But, the magic here is the way even the songs revived for the first time in years sound so comfortable, and draw the ears in to listen and to re-listen. They also feel (even those originating in Europe) irrevocably American. Netsky, along with Eden MacAdam-Somer, has once again made magic. My hope is, now that the pandemic has eased, the two of them will bring their music back to the stage. If not to reprise this project, than to reflect on material new since we last heard them. In the meantime, my heart demands that I replay this recording. You can get your own copy, or purchase extras to share this Khanike season, from Bandcamp. Enjoy!

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 23 November 2023.

Personnel this recording:
Eden MacAdam-Somer:: vocals, violin, clogging
Hankus Netsky: piano

Song Titles

  1. Un Droysn iz Finster—It’s Cold Outside (trad.) 3:28
  2. Sher in A (trad.) 3:00
  3. Uncle Shloyme & Holender Fraytik Nakht Nign (Morris Hollender) 4:26
  4. Mayn Tayere—My Dear One (music: Ilya Triling; words; Oscar Ostroff) 5:48
  5. Sonitshke—Litte Sonia (Rumshinsky/Jacobs) 6:04
  6. Tants, Tants/Romanian Bulgar (trad.) 4:37
  7. Viglid—Lullaby (words: Sonia Victor; music: Hennoch Kon) 3:29
  8. Reels from Country Klez (trad.) 4:02
  9. Uncle Berl & Rabbi Shapiro's Nign (trad.) 3:19
  10. Yeydn Fraytik Tse Nakht—Every Friday in the Evening (Shuli Hollender) 3:23
  11. Git Mir Op Mayn Harts TsurikGive Me Back My Heart (Herman Yablokoff) 4:01

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