Strauss/Warschauer Duo / Rejoicing
Yiddish Songs & Klezmer Music
If there is a band that I listen to when I want to hear something that makes me feel good inside, and yet, each time I listen to it, still feels new, then it has to be the Strauss/Warschauer Duo. Their 2005 recording, Rejoicing, is one of the most-heralded traditional recordings of the decade and it is to my shame that there is no permanent mention of what makes it wonderful here on the KlezmerShack.
Part of what makes the album both radical and traditional is the way that many traditional Eastern European Jewish musics, as played and sung today, are blended together. So, Yiddish poetry and Hebrew prayer are blended with Hassic nign and klezmer. I theorize, in part, that this is what happens when your musical background is not limited by secular feeling, but can extend to include traditional Jewish observance and modern community. On the other hand, the magic of this album may just reflect that two of the best practicioners and teachers of traditional Jewish music have successfully captured the chemistry that makes them special. Deborah Strauss is renowned as a violinist and teacher. Her voice, as on "In mayn gortn" (in my garden) has a sweetness and sense of wonder. This CD captures part of why she is so much in demand. Jeff Warschauer's skill on guitar and other "plucked string" instruments, and his soaring, plaintive vocals, are equally compelling.
The recording represents a wonderful trajectory of life. From the opening plaintive "Du zolst nit geyn mit keyn andere yingelelk" (Don't go out with anyone else):
Don't go out with anyone else,
You should only go out with me.
Don't go home to your mother,
Just come to me!
the album celebrates courtship, marriage, the in-laws, drinking, gardens, work, Sabbath, and concludes with a final "Rejoicing" and "Od Yishoma". The interplay between guitar and violin; between those and with Jeff's supple voice, conveying feelings that range from sadness to joy to rejoicing—this CD captures a sense of rightness with the world, a sense of continuity and joy that reflect our lives at their best. The musicians also don't play as if everything should necessarily be extracted into three-minute songs. Often, instrumental and vocal switch back and forth as they play and sing the stories, weaving them together. And sometimes, as on the simple ditty, "In a mazldiker sho" (best of luck) it all comes together at once, back and forth between Strauss' violin and the vocals then switching to the familiar Yiddish scat: "bum-bum-ba-bidim-bom", to the English translation, perfectly. Ahhhh.
Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer have taken the clay of the everyday and transformed it into a rich audio tapestry. I am typing this review on Thanksgiving Day, not by accident. Along with family and everything else good, this recording is one of the reasons I give thanks.
Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 25 Nov 2009.
Personnel this recording:
Deborah Strauss: violin, accordion, vocals
Jeff Warschauer: guitar, mandolin, vocals
- Du zolst nit geyn mit keyn andere yingelekh—You shouldn't go out with anyone else (trad.) 6:21
- Lomir beyde a libe firn—Let's fall in love (trad.) 2:16
- Di mekhutonim geyen—The in-laws are coming (trad./M.M. Warshawsky) 3:43
- Slonimer nign/Badknoes/Yossi's nign (Lyrics: Warshawsky; Music: trad./Warschauer) 5:13
- Royter Vayn (Lyrics: Shike Driv; Music: Warschauer/trad.) 3:35
- Doyne/Hora/Hongas (trad.) 5:07
- In Mayn Gortn—In my garden (Bialik/Yiddish translation: I. Ma Yofis) 2:52
- In a mazldiker sho—Best of luck (trad./Warshawsky. Add't'l lyrics: Warschauer)) 4:02
- Sholem velt der gantser (I. Goichberg/Ben Yomen) 3:10
- Lomir zikh iberbetn/Oylem-habo—Let's make up/The world to come (trad. Add't'l music: Warschauer) 3:14
- Rejoicing (trad., add't'l lyrics: Warschauer) 5:28
- Od yishoma (Yossi's nign reprise)—Again may there be heard (trad melody & text; Text setting: Warschauer) 2:33