09 August 2010

Music: Golden age of Jewish music

There's nothing like the great cantorial voices or klezmer groups of the past, and a new set of recordings provides a glimpse.

The Wall Street Journal's Nat Hentoff, who usually writes about jazz, reviewed "Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953."

There are links to audio clips:

'Unsane Toikef' - Cantor David Roitman -- 'Russishe Shehr' - Abe Scwartz Orchestra -- 'Mi Sheoso Nisim' - Cantor Berele Chagy --'Ich Bin a Boarder Ba Mein Weib' ('I Board at My Wife's') - Fyvush Finkel

The story reveals Hentoff's early encounters with jazz and Jewish music, including a hazzan in 1932, a klezmer band at a wedding, Artie Shaw (Russian-Jewish ancestry), Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and the legendary Jewish clarinetist Dave Tarras.

Writes Hentoff:

Still part of both worlds, I have many books on the musical and social history of jazz, including discographies. But until now I've owned nothing of substance on the nearly 6,000 Yiddish or Hebrew recordings released in the U.S. between 1898 and 1942, and especially the golden age of Yiddish 78s from 1905 to 1953.
From Klezmer clarinetist Sherry Mayrent's Yiddish 78s collection - Hentoff believes it is the largest in the world - this new compilation offers 67 tracks on three CDs, including 42 reissued for the first time.

Mayrent gathered her 5,000-and-growing record collection from diverse sources in the US, Canada, Israel, South America, Russia and other locations with transplanted Jewish communities. The University of Wisconsin-Madison will be home to the new Mayrent Institute of Yiddish Culture.

The collection includes several female cantors.

The CD's producer - and track note writer - is klezmer scholar Henry Sapoznik - who will head the new Mayrent Institute. Tracing the Tribe has posted several articles about Sapoznik and his projects (use the search box).

Some "names" mentioned in the article: Latvian-born (1892) Berele Chagy who arrived in the US circa 1909, escaping army conscription; the first klezmer group to record in the US - Elenkrig's Yiddishe Orchestra; star of the Second Avenue Yiddish theater Molly Picon; and Romanian-born Abe Schwartz's Yiddish swing band, with Tarras on clarinet.

Tracing the Tribe readers will remember actor and comic Fyvush Finkel from his TV roles in "Picket Fences" and "Boston Public," whose contribution here is Ich Bin a Boarder Ba Mein Weib ("I Board at My Wife's").

Read the complete story at the link above, listen to the clips, or purchase your own copy of the three-CD set (at Amazon, $25.99; or download the MP3 album,$17.98).

Happy listening!

No comments:

Post a Comment