various artists,
The Hidden Gate:
Jewish Music Around the World

(Rounder, 2003)

The Hidden Gate: Jewish Music Around the World features songs from familiar classics to pieces with intriguing new twists. The disc begins with rhythmic Israeli music performed by Chava Alberstein that is reminiscent of a bazaar or market in the old city. From there, the music travels through the classic Aishet Chayil to a version of "Who Knows One?" from Brazil.

The first disc centers mostly on the Old World, with a lot of Israeli songs as well as Greek, Iraqi, Algerian and even Indian. Many songs lend themselves to Israeli dance, while others emphasize Jewish cultures around the world.

The second disc features mostly klezmer from America, offering songs such as "Oy, s'iz gut" and "Borsht." "A Glezal Shnaps" by Frank London's Klezmer Brass All Stars is classic klezmer, encouraging dancers to balance wine bottles on their Chassidic black hats. "Chicken" by Kapelye is comprehensible and funny, even though it's sung in Yiddish.

Some songs are instrumental only, while others have accompanying words in a variety of languages. The tunes offer all different styles and flavors, while offering listeners a dazzling array of Jewish music.

The enclosed booklet details the history of Judaism throughout the world, explaining how the musical tradition has spread and changed. An extra data file offers extensive biographies, song lyrics and essays (available through your computer) about the history of Jewish culture spanning six continents. Apparently, music CDs are moving with the times.

- Rambles
written by Valerie Frankel
published 29 May 2004

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