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RE: Review of Bashert Klezmer Band -- An amazing find!

Do you have a web site/contact information for Bashert?


>-----Original Message-----
>From:  Seth [SMTP:rogovoy (at) berkshire(dot)net]
>Sent:  Tuesday, March 28, 2000 9:37 AM
>To:    World music from a Jewish slant
>Subject:       Review of Bashert Klezmer Band -- An amazing find!
>Hevre: When was the last time you were totally blown away by a performance?
>You know the kind I mean, when what you see totally shocks and surprises you,
>and defies all the expectations and preconceptions you had going into the
>As a music critic, I see a lot of concerts, Jewish and not, and this happens
>at most once a year and if I'm lucky, twice.
>So I'm writing today to tell you about my most recent surprise. This past
>Sunday night, I took the mishpokhe to see the Bashert Klezmer Band. It's a
>new group, a quartet, with several familiar faces. With Sruli Dresdner and
>Lisa Mayer of "Oy Vey!" and Klezchester fame, and Brian Bender of the
>Wholesale Klezmer Band and too many other side projects to count, we knew, or
>I should say, we thought we knew, what we could expect: a solidly performed
>show of mostly traditional klezmer infused with a heymishe Yidishkayt.
>Boy, was I wrong!
>This isn't to say that Bashert didn't solidly perform "a show of mostly
>traditional klezmer infused with a heymishe Yidishkayt," but merely it was so
>much more!
>First of all, besides being a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist, holding down
>the accordion, clarinet and pok seats, Sruli was a deeply warm and personal
>musician, particularly on clarinet. Drawing on his childhood background in
>Hasidism, he brought a vibrant spirituality to his playing, which at times
>reminded me of Andy Statman, but even warmer than Statman.
>Lisa, too, transcended "solid" and was a dynamic soloist and accompanist, one
>who executed hard-driving melodies and pulsing sekunde rhythms with equal
>aplomb. And Brian Bender gets better every time I see him; he is an inventive
>musician on trombone, piano and melodica, continually exploring new roles for
>the instruments in the ensemble. And as an ensemble, the trio played with
>freewheeling spirit and a seamless telepathy.
>And then there was the ringer.
>The fourth member of Bashert was the only one with whom I was totally
>unfamiliar, and, I believe, with whom most readers of this list are likewise.
>I don't know very much about vocalist Felicia Shpall, other than that for the
>last 15 years or so she has been a major force in the Double-Edge Theater, an
>avant-garde Jewish theater troupe that apparently frequently performed at the
>Cracow Yiddish cultural festival. 
>I don't think she has extensive experience performing Yiddish vocal music,
>not that you could tell, because Felicia apparently was born to sing
>"Mekhuteneste Mayne" and the like.
>Think you could live the rest of your life without ever hearing that song, or
>"Di Seposhkelakh," again? Think again. Not only will you hear these songs in
>a whole new light when you hear Felicia sing them; you'll want to hear her
>sing them again and again.
>I don't know where to start in talking about Felicia. It's almost
>embarrassing to be so effusive, but, as I said, I haven't felt like this
>since I saw Bruce Springsteen on his comeback tour last August at the Fleet
>Center in Boston. Because that's the level of focus, intensity and
>theatricality that Felicia brought to the show. Arena-sized, in a small,
>coffeehouse-style venue she and Bashert transformed into an Old World tavern
>for an evening (the place was Club Helsinki in Great Barrington, Mass., and
>all klezmorim within a day's drive should call them up or send promo kits
>immediately while the klezmer vibes are still hot there).
>Felicia's theatrical background was immediately apparent. But it wasn't the
>sort of "excessive theatricality" that unfortunately too often spells
>"schmaltz." I don't know if there's a fine line or not between "schmaltz" and
>what Felicia pulled off. Maybe it had something to do with her virtuosic
>vocals. She has a deep voice, which swung from cantorial style, with the
>requisite krekhtsn, tshoks and kneytshn all in the right places, to Second
>Avenue and a bit of post-Second Avenue Broadway, to cabaret, with the
>occasional, slight hint of jazz and chansons. All of it incredibly artfully
>done, parceled out with just the right amount of sugar and spice, and just
>the right amount of edge. 
>I guess maybe it's that edge that makes all the difference. But this wasn't
>camp, either. Felicia never camped it up, and there was no post-modern,
>ironic winking of the eye. IT was a fully-committed performance of classic
>and modern Yiddish theater and art songs (others included "Kotsk,"
>"Chernobyl," "Pastikhl," "Aye Lyu, Lyu Mayn Tayere," and "Ani Ma Amin"),
>delivered in an intimate setting, with just the right amount of cabaret-style
>walking into the audience and singing directly to audience members. Her
>Yiddish rolled off her tongue as if she was a native speaker (thank her
>grandmother for speaking Yiddish to her). And Felicia's earthy sensuality
>somehow made it timeless: both classic and contemporary, without breaking the
>spell. I guess I can get around the sexist commentary by quoting one of the
>women in my party, who said afterwards, "You just wanted to take a bite out
>of her." Indeed.
>For whatever reason, there are so few who can really pull off this
>repertoire, the Yiddish vocal repertoire, without sending a discerning
>listener screaming for the exits. I can count them  on one hand, and they
>include Fraidy Katz of The Klezical Tradition and of course, the great
>Adrienne Cooper. And their styles are totally different.
>But I kid you not, Felicia Shpall (who?) is right up there with the best of
>them. As I said, I know little about her, and I don't even know if she's
>really serious about making a career out of this (she apparently has other,
>non-musical work in mind, too, but I'll leave it to her to do the explaining
>if she feels like it). If she didn't, it would be a huge loss to Yiddish
>IN addition to Bashert, Shpall apparently performs with a NYC-based group
>called the Yiddishkeit Klezmer Ensemble.
>I can't tell if I've done an adequate job describing just how amazing a
>performer she is. I'll also be writing a "professional" review of this show
>for the Berkshire Eagle (I'm avoiding doing just that by writing this to the
>list). If you're interested in reading it, Email me and I'll send you a copy,
>or check the Eagle website on Wednesday (
><>) or my website
>(<>) in a few days.
>Seth Rogovoy
>author of "The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and
>coming in mid-May from Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill 

---------------------- jewish-music (at) shamash(dot)org ---------------------+

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