Alicia Svigals / Chassidic Breeze

differently cheezy and they can't spell Marty Confurious' name! Chassidic Breeze
Zalman Goldsein/Jewish Learning Group, Inc., re-released 2010

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This is a re-release of a wonderful CD, originally credited to the "The Nikolayev Kapeliah" and now credited as "Chassidic Breeze." I am referring to it as an Alicia Svigals CD because that is what it seems to be. I want to anchor the content to someone, and it appears to be her project! I should note that despite the new, differently cheezy cover, the inability to spell Marty Confurious' name (and the inability to spell "KlezmerShack" on the Jewish Learning Group webpage), this CD holds up marvellously after a decade. I wouldn't have thought it necessary or possible to improve, but Goldstein has added the amazing Aaron Alexander on drums and done a wonderful remix. He also removed an unrelated, uncredited track from another band that opened the original recording. Even if you love the original, as I do, this is one case where the remix is even better. Having said that, I leave you with my review from almost a decade ago:

This could just as easily be called "The amazing Alicia Svigals and friends play chasidic nigunim." By the middle of the opening medley, as Svigals violin reaches supersonic speed and virtuosity, the blind are walking and the lame are seeing. But it isn't all Svigals. Bass duties are shared by veteran Marty Confurious (most recently mentioned on these pages supplying bass to Adrienne Greenbaum and friends ) and Nicki Parrot (Svigals' bandmate in Mikveh). Then there is that amazing plucked instrument guy, Jeff Warschauer, and master accordionist Sy Kushner. And the audience.

What we have here, are a couple hundred years or so of hassidic melodies, most of which reflect their very eastern European folk roots, occasionally, as on "Tal Yasis", reflecting Jewish Cantorial modes, performed on accoustic instruments by people who have been doing this for a long, long time. And, as is true any time you get good musicians together who like each other, playing music that they love, the result is something very special. The switch back and forth between three such masterful solists as Svigals, Warschauer, and Kushner keeps everything fresh. In fact, if it weren't for the physical production: cheesy CD cover and mistakes in the liner typography, I'm not sure what I'd find to complain about.

What makes a nign a "nign", as opposed to "klezmer music"? I'm not sure. Some nigunim are clearly for dancing. But nigunim, "nigns" are also used to enter an active meditative state, where the repetition of the melody over and over induces trance. (This may be why nearly half of them seemed to be called "Nigun Hisvaadus"--"Becoming-Oneness tune".) So, think of this as pre-electronica trance music. But then, as Svigals put it recently, "[when] you listen again, imagine the melodies being sung with those Hasidic syllables [e.g., "ya ba bai" or "chiri bim chiri bam"] and some table banging!"

And, yet, there are runs, like the intense, bluegrass train-whistle-blowing part of "Mashke", with Svigals and Warschauer and Kushner working back and forth that are less trance by repetition than trance by sheer virtuosity and wonder. And, sometimes, as on the "Nigun L'Shabbos V'Yom Tov" that follows, or "Nigun Hisvaadus" and "Nugun Gaaguim", there is a quiet captured by that same virtuosity that evokes a different road to meditative wonder. Warschauer's mandolin is perfect. Kushner's accordion sublime. Svigals violin consciousness-transforming. And, sometimes, as I thought the first few times through, without looking at the liner notes, letting it all wash over me, it sounds like that wonderful cross, mentioned earlier, between Russian balalaika music and Jewish cantorial singing. Not to be missed. And don't forget to tell your friends, the balalaika music fans, as well.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 3/23/03

Personnel this recording:
Alicia Svigals: violin
Jeff Warschauer: mandolin
Sy Kushner: accordion
Marty Confurious: bass
Nicki Parrot: bass
Aaron Alexander: drums


  1. Nigun Rikud (Sefer Hanigunim No. 167) 3:43
  2. Ashreinu (Sefer Hanigunim No. 268) 3:18
  3. Mashke 4:39
  4. Shabbos V'Yom Tov (Sefer Hanigunim No. 93) 3:52
  5. Nigun Hisvaadus (Sefer Hanigunim No. 130) 2:33
  6. Nigun Gaaguim (Sefer Hanigunim No. 92) 3:49
  7. Nigun Simcha (Sefer Hanigunim No. 149) 1:54
  8. Tal Yasis (Sefer Hanigunim No. 50 - 51) 4:52
  9. Ochein Atoh (Sefer Hanigunim No. 105) 4:10
  10. Ech Du (Sefer Hanigunim No. 325) 2:08
  11. Nigun Hisvaadus II (Sefer Hanigunim No. 120) 4:55
  12. Nigun Simcha II (Sefer Hanigunim No. 337) 2:56
  13. Nigun Hisvaadus III 3:13
  14. Nigun Hisvaadus IV (Sefer Hanigunim No. 123) 2:36
  15. Klimovitcher Nigun (Sefer Hanigunim No. 208) 1:24
  16. Nigun Binyomin Althoiz (Sefer Hanigunim No. 115) 2:31
  17. Kol Bayar (Sefer Hanigunim No. 23) 3:13

All tunes appear to be from Chasidic tradition, as recorded in Sefer Hanigunim.

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