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13 March 2009

Review: New King Of Klezmer Clarinet

New King Of Klezmer Clarinet

The Clarinetist known simply as Yom has made a bold statement with his album New King Of Klezmer Clarinet. Billed as a tribute to Naftule Brandwein, who called himself the King Of Klezmer Clarinet, Yom takes a look at the Klezmer tradition and expands on it, breathing new life and energy into these songs. While paying tribute, Yom shows off his considerable talent playing at lightning-fast tempos and with great intensity. Yom gives a full and sometimes gritty Clarinet sound, but can also back off and give a more impassioned performance.
The songs presented here are some of Brandwein’s best known compositions, plus one from Dave Tarras, and three by Yom himself.

Yom plays so many notes on the fast songs that I just follow along with the chord changes, because there is not much straight melody. Don’t get me wrong, these are amazing performances, and Yom shows a high degree of virtuosity throughout the album.

It’s difficult to pick just one favorite, because I have at least three. I really got into Where Were You Before Prohibition? sometimes known as Sholem’s Bulgarish; The Boiling Hot Bulgar with some wild playing on the intro, then right into Der Heyser Bulgar at a blazing tempo; and Cascade Of Sins, also known as Fun Tashlich, with some more great playing, a gritty clarinet tone, and increasing to breakneck speed at the end. Clarinet enthusiasts will really enjoy these tracks.

I have to mention the wonderful sidemen on this album. The first thing I noticed is the awesome Tuba performance by Benoit Giffard, who does an amazing job of keeping up with Yom on the fast tunes. He throws notes out as fast as Yom and manages to keep a rock steady tempo at the same time. I haven’t experienced Tuba playing like this before. Just amazing. The other great contribution is by Pianist Denis Cuniot, who is given some nice solo space on The Joyful Wedding and Introduction, and does a tremendous job accompanying Yom on his wild adventures throughout the album.

The audio quality on the album is excellent. Each instrument is clearly defined, and the Tuba accompaniment, though prominent, never overshadows the soloist. The mix sounded great on everything I played it on, and there was a good punch from the Tuba and Tapan when played through my home theater. Kudos for Engineering/Mixing by Philippe Teissier Du Cros, and Mastering by Raphael Jonin.

The album package is a six panel foldout. There is a full page with biographical information about Brandwein, and a page with track list, band members, and credits. Photos are excellent, and the image of the New King Of Klezmer Clarinet sitting on his throne with his instrument and scepter is both iconic of Yom and a clever marketing strategy.

I find this album to be a great set of Klezmer tunes and is fitting as a tribute to Brandwein. I highly recommend this to those who love innovative Clarinet playing, have a historical interest in the music of Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, and who enjoy great Klezmer music. Long live Yom!

Keith Wolzinger
Klezmer Podcast

New King Of Klezmer Clarinet
Buda Musique 860169

Yom (clarinet)
Denis Cuniot (piano)
Alexandre Giffard (tapan)
BenoƮt Giffard (tuba)

Track List:
1. The Jew In Jerusalem 3:59
2. Where were you before prohibition? 2:42
3. The hot boiling bulgar 6:03
4. Kallarash 3:52
5. The rabbi's disciple 5:48
6. Cadence 1:34
7. Naftule attitude 1 2:31
8. Naftule attitude 2 1:42
9. Cascade of sins 3:03
10. Oh daddy that's good 5:55
11. The joyful wedding 5:39
12. ? 0:59
13. Tarras' sirba 3:37
14. Introduction 3:38

Buda Musique

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