Klezmer Conservatory Band

Klezmer Conservatory Band, A TASTE OF PARADISE (Rounder). Having long ago established itself as the world’s premiere klezmer repertory ensemble specializing in mid-20th century Yiddish swing and theater songs, Boston’s Klezmer Conservatory Band has extended its reach in recent years backwards in time to include neo-traditional, 19th-century shtetl-klezmer and forward to reflect some of the modernistic innovations of the recent klezmer revival. The group’s latest album continues in this vein, with stabs at Old World Hasidic melodies and Klezmatics-style klezmer-funk fusion, while also allowing individual members of the band to explore their particular areas of interest by breaking off into duos and trios. In fact, only about half of the tracks here are full-band numbers. Thus, singer/guitarist Jeff Warschauer takes the spotlight on several Yiddish folk songs accompanied only by the dizzying fiddle of Deborah Strauss; vocalist Judy Bressler sings a five-minute-long, early-20th-century Zionist ballad entirely a cappella; bandleader Hankus Netsky takes a rare, solo piano turn on a jazzy version of the classic Yiddish love song “Oyfn Oyvn (At the Hearth);” and cornetist Mark Berney is showcased on Cannonball Adderly’s delicious and deliriously schmaltzy arrangement of “Sabbath Prayer” from “Fiddler on the Roof.” The group hasn’t totally forsaken the big-band sound for which it became best known; it has merely refined it and applied it more sparingly to immigrant-era band numbers, Russian waltzes and Greek dances.
--- Seth Rogovoy
[This review originally appeared in the Boston Phoenix on December 5, 2003. Copyright Seth Rogovoy 2003. All rights reserved.]

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