Frank London's
Klezmer Brass Allstars,
Brotherhood of Brass
(Piranha, 2002)

What could be livelier than a brass klezmer band led by one of the lights of the klezmer renaissance? A brass klezmer band that combines its talents with two other culturally diverse bands, and that's what you get in Brotherhood of Brass.

Frank London is a co-founder of the Klezmatics but has his hand in a number of projects, one of which is the eponymous Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars. In Brotherhood of Brass London and his Allstars join their talents with those of the Boban Markovic Orkestar from the Balkans and Egypt's Hasaballa Brass Band, resulting in an exuberantly joyful recording that blends their respective traditions in a magnificent new sound.

The music is essentially klezmer, but goes in all directions. From the traditional sounding "Freylekhs-Cocek #5" to the smooth and sinuous "Shalom Aleykem (Peace Be With You)," sung by Allstars trumpet player Susan Sandler, to the jazzy beat of "Lieberman Funky Freylekh's," the listener is treated to a variety of styles.

At times the tracks blend neatly from one to the next. "Imayel Ya Khail (The Horse Shall Dance)" goes seamlessly into "A Freylekhs Nokh Dem Khuppah (Fast Wedding Dance)" and from there into "Watts-Hoffman Special (Faster Wedding Dance)." Similarly, the rhythmic "Lieberman Husidl (Lover-man's Slow Dance)" merges into the "Lieberman Funky Freylekh's" mentioned before. Slow and fast pieces are often paired in separate tracks, such as "Slow Hasidic Nign" and "Fast Hasidic Nign" or "Oriental Dance (part 1)" and "Oriental Dance (part 2)." I don't know how to classify or describe the hidden track; all I can say is that it's a treat, totally unexpected and completely different.

Brotherhood of Brass weaves a cultural tapestry through the blending of klezmer, Gypsy and "Moorish" (per the liner notes) music, and the result is powerful and unforgettable.

[ by Donna Scanlon ]
Rambles: 11 October 2002