Konsonans Retro

Voice Letter

Oriente RIEN CD 62


Full Price (60 mins)

Originally published in Songlines.

When Frank London, the trumpeter from the Klezmatics, first put together Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars to perform – you guessed it – classics from the klezmer repertoire in a Balkan brass style, the result was an instant world music hit. Now, in a similar vein, German clarinettist Christian David and UK drummer Guy Schalom have teamed up with an excellent traditional brass band from Kodyma in Western Ukraine, consisting of five members of the Baranovsky / Voronyuk family. Judging by audience reactions from their recent European live shows, their fusion of klezmer with funky brass still sounds very fresh, although their approach is different from FLKBA – less of the irreverent humour, and more of an ethnomusicological seriousness. But it’s not as heavy-going as that might sound: when they have had enough of tearing through fiery dance tunes, this band have a unique extra gear to go into – traditional Ukrainian folk-songs with accordion and beautiful close sung harmonies – that create a fascinating aural counterpart to the standard klezmer freylekhs, sher and hora tunes. These songs offer a glimpse of what could have been the best klezmer record since Odessan singer Alec Kopyt first put a band together – a full-blooded album of rootsy, raw, Jewish-inspired music. The band are excellent, but the direction feels too safe: it is mainly Balkan brass style arrangements of klezmer tunes – good though they are – rather than a musical exploration of the much deeper fusion that the Baranovsky family represent.

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