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Monday February 20, 2017
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Into the Freylakh

 

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vocal improvisations cantors have chanted for ages in synagogues from Budapest to Brooklyn? Isn't "Rebbe Elimelech," the Yiddish equivalent of "Old King Cole," which Jennifer Goltz is gleefully belting out in her sparkling soprano, so old that only musicologists can trace its origins? This is cutting-edge music?

But listen some more. Even on the most familiar songs there are surprises — composed interludes when Into the Freylakh is no longer following the standard form of improvising over repeating choruses. And check out the complex jazz/classical influences in the long, look-Ma-only-two-hands! piano intro that Isaac Schankler fashions for the simple Israeli folk song "Ma Navu." Or listen to Pardo introduce one of his original tunes, titled after his favorite Star Wars character, by suggesting we repeat the phrase "Chewbacca wookie, Chewbacca wookie, wookie," over and over to stay in rhythm with the music. Then there is another Pardo original, "Spanakopita," also in an unusual meter. Klezmer in seven? Try dancing the kazatski to that!

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