Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Cuppa Joe

THE ALEXANDRIA KLEZTET – “Peace, Love and Coffee” CD ’09 (Private, US) – I am about to make a brutal admission. Up until a couple weeks ago, I had no idea what Klezmer music was. And, who am I kidding, I still probably don’t. Klezmer is defined (by that all-knowing, all-wise and sometimes infinitely wrong thing called Wikipedia) as: “…a musical tradition which parallels Hasidic and Ashkenazic Judaism…. Klezmer is easily identifiable by its characteristic expressive melodies, reminiscent of the human voice, complete with laughing and weeping. This is not a coincidence; the style is meant to imitate khazone and paraliturgical singing. Several techniques are used to accomplish this. There are krekhts 'sobs', and dreydlekh which are a form of musical ornament similar to a turn or trill.” So, there you have, better than I could have ever put into words.

The problem is, why am I telling you all this and why does it suddenly mean something to me? Why that’s because those very few weeks ago I received in the mail a packet containing the fourth CD by Washington/Baltimore area band THE ALEXANDRIA KLEZTET. The first thing I did was pop it in the player and upon hearing the first cut, my initial impression was, “Damn if that clarinet & violin doesn’t sound like it’s laughing!” Then, you go back & read that description and it all starts to make sense, especially when I then hear a track like “Lev Tahor” and I get the feeling, for all the world, that the instruments are crying. And, I realize as well, that I’m listening to something that on the surface sounds like a cross between chamber music and traditional jazz and yet it also sounds familiar (!!!) to me, the rocker! Really ,it’s pretty amazing to get that kind of emotion out of a kind of music I’d never heard before in my entire life. And that’s what’s alright with me about this disc. Like I said, I don’t know enough about Klezmer music to critique what this band is doing in the traditional sense. What I do know, however is that when I play “Peace, Love & Coffee” I get a good feeling. Surely, from the technical standpoint the group knows their way around their instruments. At the same time, and far more importantly, the sometimes jazzy, sometimes somber, always sans-vocal music here is immediate and personable. It simply sounds good and makes me happy…and I don’t even like coffee! Try a cup today. Visualize Whirled Caffeine


Seth Kibel said...

Thanks for the good word, Ray! We REALLY appreciate the support!

- Seth Kibel
The Alexandria Kleztet

raysrealm said...

Not a problem, Seth. I really love it when I learn about new types of music that I didn't know about thru doing this site. What a great reward!