Frank London & Lorin Sklamberg,
(Tzadik, 2009)

Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg are founders of the Klezmatics, one of the world's leading klezmer bands. Klezmer might be described as Jewish polka, or Jewish roots/folk/popular music.

Tsuker-zis (which means "sugar-sweet" in Yiddish) presents Jewish holiday music with an unusual combination of musicians: London on trumpet, Sklamberg on vocals and accordion, Knox Chandler on guitar, Ara Dinkjian on oud and Deep Singh on tabla, with other instruments added to the mix by these five.

The music is clearly Jewish despite a few added electronics and nonstandard instrumentation. That characteristic is hard to describe but easily recognizable, with its minor keys and often mournful quality, even in this collection of holiday music.

The addition of oud and tabla is not as strange as it might sound (actually, guitar is not common in this music, either). After all, Jewish music is based in the Middle East and sounds Eastern to the ears of most Americans.

London and Sklamberg successfully capture the feeling and spirituality, and this project is much more interesting than an exact historical recreation. Some of the songs are reflective and some are joyous, but all 14 tracks flow smoothly together. They range in length from 23 seconds to 7-1/2 minutes. The CD sleeve has English translations of the lyrics.

This is an appealing CD, whether or not you are familiar with Jewish holiday music.

review by
Dave Howell

8 August 2009

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