Picking favourite tracks from the dozen here is almost impossible, but I’ll call special attention to “Szol A Kakos Mar,” a Hasidic song from Hungary sung in Hungarian and Hebrew, with a vocal performance from Schwartz and perfect accompaniment from the band, that reminds me of Edith Piaf at her best. Another that must be singled out is “Vemen Veln Mir Dinen, Brider,” a Yiddish protest song that laments being forced to serve in the czar’s army.
This is a very special Klezmer album.”
“Vocalist Elizabeth Schwartz displays a wonderful appreciation for the nuances inherent in the interpretations of this music. Her mastery of the ornamentations is superb on selections like the movingly ethereal Hungarian Jewish folk song “Szol a Kakas Mar (The Rooster Crows Already)” and an extended version of the Czarist protest song “Vemen Veln Mir Dinen, Brider (Whom Shall We Serve Brothers?). She also gives an inspired performance of “Ver es Keseyder Tseyln (Who Can Count in Order?) that wonderfully portrays both the cantorial and badkhen (wedding jester rhymer) underpinnings to this music”.
“I’m tempted to say “Never mind the quality, feel the width” –
but this marathon CD is not just about quantity. Of the seventeen tracks here,
most are great pieces of Jewish music: the poignancy of The Bride’s Lament or
Vizhnitser Nign, the exotic exuberance of Freylachs and Horas, and the earthy
emotions and laconic wit of songs such as Lekhayim or The Mother-in Law.”
“I was captivated by the powerful voice of Elizabeth Schwartz.”
“…seriously soulful vocals by Elizabeth Schwartz.”
The album is thus more of a documentary perhaps, but the music itself is truly wonderful – klezmer and Yiddish folksongs played on violin, tsimbl (the dulcimer-like cimbalom), accordion, bass, and with many tracks benefitting from the vocals of Elizabeth Schwartz. Wild, uplifting or deeply melancholy, this music is of great interest to all klezmer enthusiasts…
In 18th-century Poland there were women klezmer musicians who travelled to perform at fairs all over Central Europe. Ethnographer-violinist Strom has researched their repertoire, and this CD contains some of his discoveries.
With Miriam Margolyes’ help he also introduces the music: supported by cimbalom, accordion and bass, the husky timbre of Elizabeth Schwartz brings an aching authenticity to these songs and dances from the shtetls of pre-1939 Europe. Four Stars.
“The standout track (is) Getshinke, which describes the unhappy fate of a Jewish girl from Vilna during the First World War (sung here in customarily soulful style by Elizabeth Schwartz). …The music is superb, in turns joyful and mournful, recorded in such an intimate acoustic that the listener is really caught up in the ebb and flow of the often brilliant improvisations on violin, cimbalom, accordeon and bass”
“This great gift of music is tied to Jewish folk songs and melded with the rhythms of all the places Jews have lived around the world where they have been touched by the local culture and music. The tunes are infused with a sound that I can only describe as Jewish blues/jazz, Roma (Gypsy) music, and all things Middle Eastern and pentatonic. It takes you on the road of the Jewish Diaspora with music local to each country along the route but unique in its heartfelt similarities and sounds. This is an exciting CD as well as an historic one. It introduces and extends the Klezmer themes and music into a European borsht-like mixture of many musical colors and sounds.
The CD iincludes a mélange of different musicians, starting with Yale Strom on violin and Hot Pstromi members Fred Benedetti on guitar, David Licht on percussion, Jeff Pekarek on bass, Sprocket Royer on bass, Elizabeth Schwartz providing soulful vocals, Tripp Sprague on saxophone, Norbert Stachel on saxophone/multi woodwinds, and Peter Stan on accordion.
The CD roams through 12 songs, each unique and each a musical piece of a musical puzzle that takes you through an exciting journey of Eastern European Jewish dance and folk music. Listening to this music filled me with many emotions, both joyous and sorrowful. This type of emotional reaction is something that seems to have disappeared recently as we listen to the music we are force fed by robotic radio and the odes played on American Idol. This CD touches your soul and your heart and never lets up. Yale Strom has created a CD that makes you want more, so you play it again, over and over, always finding new themes, new rhythms, and emotionally laden vocals with notes that shake your soul.
The CD sings to the six million lost, bringing them back to the rest of us still here who are alive and dancing to Bread with Borsht, Brothers. Indeed, Yale Strom has created a CD for everyone. Its melodies will make you move your feet, shed a tear, laugh out loud, and forever remember the songs of a people who wandered through many lands and mixed in the cultures they absorbed along the way. This is truly world music, culturally created in Eastern Europe, but cross-fertilized with sounds from as far away as Turkey, the Middle East, and North Africa, brought to life again in those long gone, ghost-inhabited Jewish communities that still exist in our DNA.
L’Chaim (“to Life!”) to a treasury of culture and music that plays out on this wonderful, intelligent CD. “
“A revelation, Schwartz boasts a deep, dark rich vocal instrument with enough versatility to pull off an Arabic taksim, a cantorial wedding blessing and a jazz waltz version of ‘Moscow Nights’. Schwartz channels her wide-ranging background in musical theater, blues, rock and jazz into a vivid, contemporary Yiddish idiom that needs no translation”