Review: Budowitz Live
Budowitz Live is the latest release from Budowitz, a klezmer group that brings new life to the music of the Eastern European Jews. I first became aware of Budowitz in 2001, but it was only recently that I took the next step and became seriously interested in the the group and the truly wonderful music that they bring to the world.
The group is fronted by Josh Horowitz (Tsimbl/Accordion) and Cookie Segelstein (Violin) who together wrote most of the arrangements on the album. They are joined by Christian Dawid, a favorite Clarinet player of mine, and string players Tamas Gombai, Sandor Toth, and Zsolt Kurtosi. Some of the songs are original compositions, but blend completely into the soundscape that Budowitz so ably lays out for us.
The 2-disc set is taken from live performances in Switzerland and is organized into suites from ten geographic regions of Eastern Europe, including Mogiolev, birthplace of my paternal grandfather. I find it particularly helpful to regionalize these songs, as there is a clear distinction between the musical styles and emotional impact these songs convey, based on the locality of the people who originated them. Budowitz takes us on tour with them through the villages and countryside of these areas, evoking a strong sense of place and community from each song.
You know, being slightly Geekish, I always have to say something about the quality of the sound. For those of you who opt to get the CD, or a high-quality download, you’re in for something special. This has to be one of the most pristine live recordings I’ve heard. Live recordings can be dicey, especially when using two venues for the performances. Budowitz assembled a first rate team for recording, mixing, editing, and mastering this intricate material. The mix sounded great on computer speakers, earbuds, and my home stereo. But, when I tried it on my home theater system and switched to the DTS Neo:6 mode and listened in 6.1 surround, I felt like I was in the front row of the concert. Trust me, give it a try!
Finally, I want to mention the 12-page insert booklet that comes with the CD package. Produced by Horowitz and Segelstein, the booklet does not contain lengthy “liner notes”, but rather, short descriptions of each song, stating its purpose and origin. That’s enough for me. We don’t all have to be musicologists to enjoy great music. We also are treated to four pages of a photo collage that give us a glimpse into the life of the group while on tour (plus what appears to be some klezmer-loving pets!).
What more can I say? I’m a brass player, but I love this album. If you are into string/tsimbl/accordion style klezmer you will love the authentic feel and presence this album delivers. I highly recommend you make room on your shelf or hard drive for Budowtitz Live!
Golden Horn Records
Golden Horn Records