Yiddish Twist Orchestra
- mix/production - with Yaniv Fridel
- concept - with Ben Mandelson
- arrangements - with Robin Harris/Ben Mandelson/David Bitelli
- on drums - Roy Dodds
- on bass - Simon Edwards
- on organ and piano - Robin Harris
- on electric guitar - Ben Mandelson
- on trombone - trombone poet Paul Taylor
- on saxophone and clarinet - David Bitelli
- on trumpet - Simon Finch
- on voice - Natty Bo
- guest vocals - Sam Lee
A London social history art project, I set this band up with the brilliant Ben Mandelson and Robin Harris. It is damn funky what if from Soho’s glorious post-war period. The artwork from Melamed, is even better. We even coined a new poetic form, the bagel-shaped haiku, or beiku.
I wrote some arrangements and produced the album, but didn’t play on stage long, as they soon got too good and too busy. Still going very strong indeed.
Live at Bab El Med, Marseille, 2012
“It is always the seam on your trousers that attracts the most dirt,” said Alf Wax, the great Whitechapel tailor, and back in late 1950s London the same was undoubtedly true for music – it was the seam of the big band and rock’n’roll eras that produced what sounds now like the dirtiest, most deliriously danceable music of all: a delirious mix of West Indian Calypso, mambo, surf guitar, classic Yiddish songs and English beat rhythms that they called ‘der shvitz’. When years later it crossed the Atlantic in diluted form as ‘the twist’ its roots were forgotten, and remained so, with the exception of a select few in the know who recognise Willy Bergman, its founder and greatest bandleader, as the lost hero of the sex n drugs British music revolution.
Natty Bo and crew doing what they do best
The overriding good humour and sense of fun in no way detract from the fine playing and smart arrangements on offer and Natty Bo certainly knows how to put over a song. Let’s Yiddish twist!
What’s most admirable about this London outfit’s debut album is that their own compositions sit comfortably alongside forgotten gems and bona fide classics from the 1920s through to the 1950s... an alternative goodtime party record by a super-tight big band. In other words, what’s not to like?