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1.2.3 DOINA - RABBI IN PALESTINE - MAZELTOV
A medley of slow, improvised, medium-walking and fast-dancing tunes.The doina is a semi-improvised form of music, which according to some sources was originally played on flutes by Romanian shepherds to call in their sheep (or variants of this story!). The Rabbi in Palestine is a hora, atypically written in a major key. The hora is a Romanian-derived piece in 3/8 with the beats on the 1 and 3 (as opposed to a waltz). Sometimes it has an uneven or limping beat. The last piece of the set is called Mazeltov (Yiddish for 'good luck') as are numerous other klezmer tunes!
A catchy, fast little dance tune.
Originally learnt from a collection of tunes copyrighted by the Kammen brothers in 1934, which is described on the cover as 'The most useful book of its kind ever published'. The collection comprises 'carefully selected international songs and dances' and includes quite a few klezmer tunes or pieces in the klezmer repertoire. The Kolomeike was a Ukrainian dance, but for some reason I've evolved a lilt which I confess gives it some Scottish strathspey characteristics.
5. ARABER TANZ (Arabic dance)
Slow and Middle Eastern sounding.
This 'Terkisher' features Phil on the Ney or Arabic flute. In 1998 while I was searching Europe for klezmer. Phil was in Turkey and Egypt learning about Arabic music. This klezmer standard sounds Arabic, but it ended up being played in Eastern Europe and was popular in the Chassidic courts. A transcription appears in Sapoznik's Compleat Klezmer, and many recorded performances are available, ranging from master clarinettist Naftule Brandwein to the Klezmatics.
6.7. BROYGES TANZ - ODESSA BULGAR
A slow dance tune followed by a faster one.
Thanks to Henry Sapoznik's Compleat Klezmer book and tape for Broyges Tanz and other tunes. This tune was played for the two mothers-in-law to dance to as a way of ' ritually expunging the friction felt between new in-laws'. There is an unorthodox improvisation in the middle of Broyges Tanz. Odessa Bulgar pops up in many recordings, and to confuse matters there are multiple tunes called Odessa Bulgar. I appreciate the notation for teaching purposes by Sherry Mayrent in the Klezkamp Slow Jam book. My most memorable klezmer jam was in Cracow (where my father was born) in an underground wine cellar. There were about five musicians from the USA and Germany who I met with each day to play tunes. One memorable night we met in the cellar and were joined by members of Brave Old World. Later at Klezkamp there were naturally many jams too. I wonder if there will ever be klezmer sessions here in Australia in the same way that we have Irish or Bluegrass sessions. I think we just need more people to learn and spread the tunes and style.
8. STOLLINER NIGUN
A slow instrumental version with some vocals and extended improvisations.
Originally I learnt this from a tape and book by Giora Feidman, whose material was the easiest to access here. Later I played a version of it with accordionist Bronwyn Calcutt and electric guitarist Jim Swainston in a band called Kalinka, which featured Bronwyn's stunning vocals and cabaret compositions as well as assorted klezmer, gypsy and jazz pieces
At Klezkamp, Deborah Strauss taught us this same tune in the fiddle class and we learnt it by singing. Our singing on this CD reflects Chassidic nigun singing and also refers to a story I heard from a guest American lecturer via Monash University's Australian Jewish Music Archives. He described nigun singing in an underground cavern in Jerusalem. Nigunim were often sung for hours as a form of devotion or meditation. Also called Moshe Emet.
9.10.11. BOOGICH'S BULGAR - AF SHABBES IN VILNA - AFTER THREE GLACES
Three zippy and jazzy little dance tunes. A set of freylach dance tunes of the sort that might be included for 'hora dancing' sets at weddings. We also play popular Israeli and Hassidic tunes that fit this style.
The first tune was written by J.Boogich early last century in the USA and I suspect he might have been listening to a bit of ragtime. Af Shabbes in Vilna is from a Klezmer Conservatory Band album. After Three Glaces is a jolly little tune that I have never heard elsewhere, but would love to know where it comes from. I confess to having learnt it from a book of klezmer tunes by Mart Heijmanns from Holland, who has several excellent publications.
12. RUMANIAN HORA
A slow-walking or dance tune.
Another tune from the Kammen collection. In Cracow I danced to this tune at a class on klezmer dancing led by Michael Alpert at the Krakow 1998 Jewish Cultural Festival. Viva le klezmer dancing!
In 1992 I learnt the similar-sounding Yismechu from Michael Alpert when he visited Melbourne briefly.
13.14. KHOSIDLS 1 AND 2
A slow dance tune followed by a catchy, fast one.
I learnt these tunes by ear from English clarinettist Merlin Shepherd at Klezkamp West near San Francisco in 1998, along with another 15 fiddles, 30 clarinets, 10 accordions, trumpets, flutes and more, all in a barn! Every day we would learn one tune, and at night play it for the klezmer dance.
The second tune reminds me a bit of an Irish polka called 'Rakes of Mallow'. Oy Vey To Be Sure? I have seen Khosidi 2 in Beregovski's 'Old Jewish Music' listed as a 'Skocne'. The Budowitz CD has an inspiring version.
Some of the recordings from earlier this century have piano so Phil has 'changed hats' for these tracks.
15.16. SHERELE - LEYBEDIK
A couple of jolly dance tunes.
A small sher (scissor's dance) followed by a 'leybedik' (joyful) dance tune.
17. TERK IN AMERICA (USKAOAR)
A slow Middle Eastern piece popularised by 1920's U.S.A clarinet maestro Brandwein. Also a suburb of Istanbul. A tune that occurs in Jewish, Greek and Turkish repertoire. In Phil's Middle Eastern band Yalla! we play this for belly dancers. Like Araber Tanz this is a Terkisher with specific klezmer dance steps. Phil introduces this piece with his incredibly loud Zoma (doubte-reeded oboe), playing an improvised section or taksim.
18. TANTZ TANTZ YIDDELEKH
'The quintessential Jewish tune before Hava Nagila' (from Sapoznik: Compleat Klezmer).
At a Chuppah (wedding), Barmitzvah or 80th birthday celebration this tune is guaranteed to provoke a reaction. The temptation is to play too fast! It is also the tune for a Yiddish song called Yoshke Yoshke which says, 'Yoshke, saddle up the pony so it'll run faster, if he stops we won't be able to sell him. The rabbi wants us to be happy. Dai-Di-Dai . . . Drink brandy not wine.'
Read the review on the Klezmershack website