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Metropolitan Klezmer - Surprising Finds

2003 © Rhythm Media Records
Produced by Eve Sicular
Order Online through CDBaby , Jewish Music and Yiddish Music


Metropolitan Klezmer - Surprising Finds, CD coverart
  Deborah Karpel - vocals
  Debra Kreisberg - clarinet, alto sax
  Pamela Fleming - trumpet, flugelhorn
  Rick Faulkner - trombone
Ismael Butera - accordion  
Michael Hess - violin, kanun, ney flute
Dave Hofstra - bass, tuba
Eve Sicular - drums, dumbeq
Special Guests:
Howie Leess - clarinet
Philip Karpel - vocals

Produced by Eve Sicular and Debra Kreisberg

Engineered and Mastered by
Jim Clouse - Park West Studios - Brooklyn, New York

. . . worthy addition to any klezmer library approach that combines scholarly rigor with imaginative leaps of juxtaposition... on the aptly titled "Surprising Finds", "field recordings" of vocalist Deborah Karpel's grandfather rub up against a suite of previously unknown Soviet Yiddish theater tunes and Hungarian Hasidic melodies. "Pick a Pocket or Two" from the Broadway musical Oliver! is reclaimed as a subversive bit of radical Jewish culture, and in an innovative feat of remixing, today's Metropolitan Klezmer lineup plays a medley with a decade-old version of the group...
Debra Kreisberg blows a jazzy alto saxophone on "The Rooster Crows" and trumpeter Pam Fleming stretches her lip as well as her compositional muscles on "Dreaming Wizard," written in the style of a khosidl, a slow Hasidic dance tune... worthy additions to any klezmer library.

- Seth Rogovoy / author, "The Essential Klezmer"


Metropolitan Klezmer is one of (I'd argue strongly for *the*, but I'm sure of universal agreement on "one of") the best klezmer bands in the world today...."Surprising Finds", the group's third release, though, takes them to an even higher level, although I might not have believed such a thing was possible before hearing it... a delightfully multi-dimensional view of a musical form that is far too easily stereotyped, not only by those unfamiliar with its range, but unfortunately by some of its practitioners as well... Metropolitan Klezmer is anything but stereotypical, and nothing but terrific.

- Shaun Dale / Cosmik Debris


If you are new to the band's sound, start here, then work your way back . . .

Long one of New York City's tightest klezmer dance bands, the band uses its new CD to explore more deeply into Yiddish and (especially) Jewish Socialist roots, and to emphasize their own continuity with tradition. I call special attention to the album's title, "Surprising Finds," which is also the album's theme. There are other old recordings, including a couple of songs by Philip Karpel, the grandfather of Metropolitan Klezmer vocalist Deborah.

Opening with a clip from the movie "Uncle Moses" to which they append their own modern version of the same, the band mixes lovely Yiddish theatre vocals, incredible instrumentals, both thoughtful and dynamic, and even manages an incredible balkan brass rearrangement of "Pick a Pocket or Two." The liner notes are especially illuminating in this case, as we learn a bit of closeted Jews and gays (or both, as one person in this case) in the entertainment industry in the '60s.

Metropolitan Klezmer has achieved something very special with this album. They can't get much better musically. Instead, they have dug more deeply into history, bringing back live fragments, recreating others, and even, as with Pam Fleming's lovely "Dreaming Wizard," creating their own tradition. In the process, the band makes us more aware of the cultural struggles and diversity of Jews (especially labor struggles of migrants to the United States and England, but not limited to then, and not limited to labor issues) in the last century. Despite the focus on the West, there is a lovely suite here in tribute to the Soviet Yiddish Theatre. Not many realize that in the decades following the Soviet revolution there existed a vibrant avant garde Yiddish Theatre, until destroyed by Stalin's paranoia. The point isn't just to present older music (and some new tunes) that we might not yet know, but to use that as an excuse to make us aware of our own history. That the band can do this and still strengthen their reputation as one of the premier Klezmer bands performing today, is an additional testament as to the skill and excitement they bring to their music. Indeed, several tracks here were recorded live, in a small club in NYC--one even features Howie Leess, member of the original band, now retired to Rochester, NY, but here recorded in 1994.

Special mention should also be given to careful and copious liner notes, and to excellent typography in integrating the Yiddish with transliteration and English. This is the way to do it.

This is my favorite Metropolitan Klezmer album yet, something I have said about each of the earlier albums, but here say even louder. If you are new to the band's sound, start here. Then work your way back. You'll enjoy.

- Ari Davidow / KlezmerShack

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