JØDISK

Du kan læse de følgende anmeldelser på sidste del af denne side - desværre kun enkelte af dem på dansk - endnu:

Portrait of Giora Feidman

Den Flygande Bokrullen: 20th Century Klezmer - The Burning Bush: Klezmer & Hassidic Music

Helmut Eisel & JEM: Passions for Klezmer - Ot Azoi: The Heart of Klezmer - Traditional Yiddish Music

Buston Abraham: Pictures through the Painted Window - The Klezmer Conservatory Band: Dancing in the Aisles

Channe Nussbaum & Spielloks: Copenhagen Klezmer

A few words about American and European klezmer: and differences demonstrated by the next two reviews:

1. Henrik Bredholt & Ann-Mai-Britt Fjord's Klezmerduo : Klezmer Duo - Danish Klezmer... Oy Oy Oy

2. The Klezmatics : Possessed

Various Artists: Best of Yiddish Songs and Klezmer Music

Schmuel Achiezer: Soul Love

Se på Klezmer Ring websiderne for mange flere links til jødisk musik på nettet.

Men først nogle af de mange fine jødiske titler du kan bestille fra Numen Music Center

Vores jødiske katalog består af en del forskellige kategorier: Den religiøse kantorsang, israelsk/ hebræisk populær-musik, bl.a. fra kibbutzerne, yiddish og østeuropæisk musik, sefardisk (jøder fra spansk-arabiske kulturområder)

- og sidst men ikke mindst, er der klezmer, som når den er bedst kan være en slags sprudlende glad blanding af New Orleans jazz, østeuropæisk- og zigøjnermusik!

A Touch of Klez! The Klezmer Conservatory Band

Klezmer er folkemusik fra de gamle østeuropæiske jødiske kulturer. Ikke uden forbindelse med sigøjnermusik (sigøjnermusiker spillede sommetider med!), klezmer blev også oprindeligt spillet af vandrende musikere, til bryllup og til religiøse højtider. Det er nemt at høre indflydelserne i musikken, fra sigøjnerne, fra balkanlandene og fra Østeuropa i det hele taget.

Klezmer trækker på hele rækkeviden i de menneskelige følelser. En klarinetist som Feidman vil bevidst få sit instrument til at grine og græde - han forsvinder en tid i forsvundne følelsers sentimentale omtågethed, skriger måske et øjeblik i krænket vrede, men vender altid tilbage med glæde og humor. Og altsammen i løbet af nogle få hvirvlende minutter, hvor han tager publikummet med - og hvis han er god så hænger de på, ved hver node han spiller, og elsker ham for det.

GIORA FEIDMAN: (se "DJEMBE" artiklen om Giora Feidman nedenfor)
Hans clarinetspil er legendarisk - ingen kan, som han udfri følelser fra dette instrument. Fra blide kærtegn og romantisk forførelse, fra legende drilleri, glæde, sorg, og nogle gange over i korte udladninger af spænding, og engang imellem egentligt raseri.
Jødiske følelser på alle måder, kalder vi i Numen hans spil, og lyrisk-musikalsk er det altid. Man kan danse til det, eller bare samle sin livsglæde til sig ved at lytte og nyde.
Vi har mange titler med ham, de mest solgte er Jewish Soul Music, The Incredible Clarinet, The Singing Clarinet og The Magic of the Klezmer 179.-, 169.-, 159.-

SHMUEL ACHIEZER:
(se anmeldelsen nedenfor) En yngre Giora Feidman, han spiller også clarinet. På Soul Love alle de kendte melodier - masser af god energi og gang i den 169.-

CHANNE NUSSBAUM & SPIELLOKS: (se anmeldelsen nedenfor) 'Copenhagen Klezmer' er, som navnet antyder, danske-yiddishe klezmersange, men også populære israelske sange - lette og skæge og sunget og spillet i høj humør. 159.-

THE KLEZMATICS:
Moderne yiddishe troubadourer, der spiller klezmer, synger og fortæller med rytme og humor. Musikken kan være vild eller følelsesfuld, men har altid udgangspunkt i deres glæde ved at spille. Deres jazz baggrund er mest New Orleans-agtig, men spænder også helt til 60'er jazz. 3 Titler, Shvaygn = Toyt, Rhythm & Jews, og senest Jews with Horns 159.-

MIDNIGHT SELICHOT SERVICE:
Cantor Moshe Dubiner synger med tenorstemme. 2.000 års jødisk historie, længsel og dybde i følelserne ligger i hans sang. En usædvanlig smuk indspilning 115.-

SHALOM SALAM
betyder 'fred' på 2 forskellige sprog, og pladen er delt mellem en jødisk og en arabisk del. De fredfyldte sange, der udstråler en særlig hengivenhed, stammer fra de 2 kulturers åndelige og folkelige traditioner 169.-

TALILA & ENSEMBLE KOL AVIV
: Hun synger Yiddish Songs (vol.1 og vol.2) med en klar, ren stemme, og akkompaneres afrundet rytmisk af ensemblet, så musikken danser med lethed og glæde. 169.-

KAPELYE
: En anden meget kendt gruppe, der spiller traditionel klezmer musik. 2 Titler, Chicken og Levine & His Flying Machine. MC/CD 169.-

THE LOST JEWISH MUSIC OF TRANSYLVANIA
: Muzsikas ensemblet med Marta Sebestyen fra Ungarn har allieret sig med flere zigøjner-(romanske) musikere (!!). Romanere der tidligere spillede jødisk musik til jødiske festligheder. Her hører man bl.a. en del af oprindelsen til klezmer. 169.-

VOICE OF THE TURTLE
: Sephardisk sang og musik fra Tyrkiet. 169.-

BEAUTIFUL ISRAEL
: Folkesang på Hebraisk og Hatikva, fra Israel. 169.-

ANDRE TITLER
: Mange flere i alle kategorier. Du kan bestille (næsten) alle pladerne i anmeldersektionen - priser mellem kr.159.- og 169.-


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REVIEWS

fra Djembe, bladet for cross culture and world music:

(Du kan også læse dem på Djembe's home page)

The Art of Listening? I try to use my reviews to give information about the music, and to help people listen. You may often not agree with my evaluations. Write me an e-mail...

DEN FLYGANDE BOKRULLEN: '20th Century Klezmer'

The Flying Scroll? Sweden isn't a country I normally connect with Jewish culture, so it's been a very pleasant surprise to me, to hear this lot. They play more or less normal klezmer, but I can also easily descibe their music as inventive, uptempo, energy-laden, melancholy and also often - as it should be - humorous.

Using a clarinet, accordion, trumpet, tuba, bass and drums, the group just gets out there - not straight out, but with a lot of energy and ingenuity - just the thing to wake the inclinations of the listener to life again with a lot of prickling feelings and rhythms.

The recipe is of traditional klezmer jumbled together with Greek and Balkan melodies, and a dash of American jazz. Often pretty fast. One could call it American gypsy-klezmer.

The group, based in Uppsala, tells that they play at bar mitzvahs - Jewish confirmation parties - at weddings, 50-year old parties and at the opening of exhibitions. That's really carrying on the old traditions - and it's easy to hear that these guys have gotten things swinging in many Swedish homes since they started the group in the beginning of the nineties.

Jack Donen - 12/98

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THE BURNING BUSH: 'Klezmer and Hassidic music'

This klezmer-mix of East European, Balkan and Gypsy music comes from England in fine style.

One of the most popular klezmer groups in England has been taking a look at its roots. The Hassidic movement was founded in Eastern Europe in the 18th Century, in a new search at that time, for the mystical truths on which Judaism is based. It's an orthodox movement, but at the same time, in many ways it's optimistic, invigorating, joyous - and song and dance have been one part of its traditions that the wandering Jewish klezmer musicians through the years have maintained.

The Burning Bush actually does use the more traditional instruments, a couple of violins, a dulcimer and harmonica, besides the more modern clarinet and bass. And now they've found a lot of old Hassidic songs written down in the beginning of the 20th Century, and play them for us here.

There are several problems that come to mind, listening to this record

- Klezmer was never meant to be pure concert music. Witness my description elsewhere on this page, of a concert with Giora Feidman, where he showed that for the enjoyment of the music in every member of the audience, it is so important to get them to join in, by singing, by moving, swaying together, whatever.

- Then there's the problem of recording music that normally belongs in a living environment, and putting it on a record, to be played through the loudspeakers in someone's lounge. Again, it takes a whole mixture of special circumstances, and recording artistry, to really get the mood into the right "grooves" of a CD. So the music retains its life and drive and joy, with all its feelings. So the home listener doesn't sit and wonder what the audience was clapping about. Or worse, so the musicians sitting in a studio without their normal live audience, don't get stuck in a claustrophobically dull effort to just get it done, and play the right notes at the right time.

- Lastly, as one of my colleagues, Ingemar Johansson, brought up: there's a danger today in the very success of klezmer. Just as New Orleans jazz once stiffened into Dixieland, klezmer is getting so much airing today, that one gets to hear a lot of people playing it, who are both uncreative, and who don't even know anything about its roots. A Danish writer, Tor Nørretranders, had these words to say about a different subject, in a similar situation: it is in danger of "suffering from the same disease that marks all institutions that have become too big: It has forgotten where it comes from, where it was going, and why it exists at all". (back to the Klezmer Conservatory Band).

So then, the Burning Bush CD is something of an unusual mixture. They wanted to get back to their roots, and the music on many of the numbers is really alive and sensitive. It has drive and many creative touches. But then there's the other side of the group that especially shows up in the slow numbers, where they seem to disappear in a kind of academic absorption of the music-in-itself - the music as composed music - where the mood is supposed to be somehow - magically - contained in the notes themselves, and it doesn't need to be worked at. A pity, I think.

Jack Donen - 9/98

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HELMUT EISEL & JEM: 'Passions for Klezmer'

An impressive mixture of klezmer and jazz from Germany.

Helmut Eisel plays mostly clarinet, accompanied by Michael Marx on guitar and Herbert Jagst on contrabass. The recording comes from a live concert - not always a successful manoeuvre. But this is one of those instances where the contact of the musicians with the audience - and its spontaneous reactions - has been captured, and transmitted to tape. Klezmer after all is about human feelings, and about sharing them with others.

Eisel is right there all the time, and according to tradition, he plays his way through all sorts of human emotions. Sad Jewish blues, that can develop thoughtfully and lyrically, through charmingly pleasing melodies - perhaps an outbreak of anger, or something like outrage - claiming the right to be here. But that, too, he works his way through, until he reaches a measure of joy, and gives it to the audience.

He really plays well, Helmut Eisel, and it's not just technique one hears. There's a lot of joy and enjoyment in his music, for the heart and for the soul. A good experience. Good both as background music and music that gives a lot when really listened to.

Jack Donen - 6/98

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OT AZOI: 'The Heart of Klezmer - Traditional Yiddish Music'

The wave of klezmer releases continues with this gypsy-klezmer recording.

Ot Azoi is a Dutch group, strongly influenced by the traditions of the Balkan - they even have a Bulgarian and a real gypsy here as guests. The musicians play very professionally, on violin, clarinet, saxophone, accordion, bass tuba and assorted percussion instruments.

Perhaps unfortunately they have chosen to play music of a decidedly melancholic nature. This seems to strengthen the impression of a 2-dimensional and unvarying "folk-musical" sound, without any highlights or specially interesting overtures or feelings, and in fact a lot of one-dimensional rhythm.

Jack Donen - 6/98

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BUSTON ABRAHAM: 'Pictures through the painted window'

Abraham was the common ancestor of both Arabs and Jews. Buston means "garden of fruit and essence". And this group, a mixture of Arabic and Israeli musicians, is just such a garden

The group seems to have a quite professional, academic background, and draws with impressive virtuosity on many traditions from many parts of the world. Most clearly from the Middle East and Persia, from North Africa and from the flamenco of Spain. But there's also elements of jazz, and of the classical and folk music of Europe, not to mention the drone of an Indian tamboura on the title number.

The music is demanding in the sense that to enjoy it, you have to put your ear to it, and listen. Then, once you´re there, you find that emotionally the mood is dynamic and fascinating, the music twirls and twists, sways and swings, like a oriental dancer - and once in a while it dives down into a quiet, peacefully meditative sequence, or perhaps with a violin that is emotionally romantic in an almost Chinese drawn out way.

The instruments include the oud, qanoun and masser of Arabic and Western percussion, besides the violin, flute, classic guitar and bass guitar. And on several numbers there's singing in Arabic, Hebrew and Spanish.

In all it must be said that the group's consumate musical skills and its continuous inventiveness make for a recording that is quite surprisingly exciting and entertaining - and not least it's an uplifting example of what the two nations are able to do together, when it's artistic cooperation that's given precedence.

Jack Donen - 2/98

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THE KLEZMER CONSERVATORY BAND: 'Dancing in the Aisles'

KCB is one of the original American groups that have driven the klezmer revival forward, since the 1970s-1980s to where it is today. It's original because it was one of the groups instrumental in the re-creation of Jewish popular music, making it alive and relevant once more, by fusing it successfully with modern Western sounds. It's a big group, 11 musicians on this CD, but one could also say it's big because it represents the best of American klezmer, and helps us to appreciate the wilder roots of Jewish gypsy-jazz.

The record is full of lots of the well-known numbers, the rhythms, and almost orgies of both funny and romantic songs. So why does it seem as if they're just reeling it off? Is it me getting spoiled and blasé, with new klezmer releases pouring in constantly these days? Or is it the KCB that has run out of new steam, and needs to stop and take stock? Or (see my thoughts about live recordings elsewhere on this page) is it that thing about the difficulty of making live recordings really live?

Jack Donen - 2/98

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CHANNE NUSSBAUM & SPIELLOKS: 'Copenhagen Klezmer'

Channe Nussbaum er en pige med gang i, kan man mærke. 36 år gammel har hun i snart 20 år sunget både rock, pop og jazz, og nu gør hun det som jødisk klezmersangerinde.

Klezmer kommer i disse år frem, også på verdensmusikkens scene. Naturligt nok, fordi klezmer er, ligesom jødernes historie, et blandingsprodukt. Den kan beskrives som en slags østeuropæisk-zigøjner blanding, extra krydret med lidt orientalsk påvirkning, lidt cirkus musik (ja, lyt bare efter!), og efterhånden idag hører man en hel del af jazzmusik i klezmer.

Efter Giora Feidmans koncert i København i efteråret (se Djembe no. 19), har der også i Danmark været en opblussen af interesse i klezmer, og derfor er det rart at mærke, at her findes grydeklar lokal talent, med traditionen allerede godt og vel flydende i blodårene.

Channe Nussbaum synger på denne første danske klezmerudgivelse, både de for klezmer traditionelle jiddische folkesange, men også israelske folkesange på Hebræisk. Følelserne er, som de skal være, i forfronten, og hendes robuste og uslebne stemme udtrykker styrke, saft og kraft.

Peter Jessen på clarinet yder nogle spændende frit- og højtflyvende bidrag, og Jens Tolsgaards smukke og ret så franske accordion (trækharmonika) kunne godt tåle at blive luftet en hel del mere.

Glad musik er altid godt for sjælen, og selvom man ikke forstår ordene, så gør det godt at mærke umiddelbarheden, uskylden og den humor, der altid er en væsentlig del af klezmer.

Jack Donen

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A few words about American and European klezmer

When talking about Jewish folk music, one thinks especially of the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe and the Balkans.

So I would understand klezmer as being the festive version of this music. It was played, in the period up until the 2nd World War, by wandering musicians. During their travels, they collected bits and pieces from the musical traditions of the entire area - including the music of the gypsies - and they integrated and played this mixture, at religious festivals, at weddings and all sorts of other festive occasions.

The War and the Holocaust destroyed this music, in Europe. But it did, of course, survive. Perhaps especially in the Eastern part of the U.S.A., where the very large Jewish population, with millions of immigrants from Eastern Europe, has been a repository for much of the old cultural values. And it is exactly the American influence, which has added jazz as an important element in most modern klezmer music.

This happened probably mostly in the late seventies and the eighties, which brought a kind "back to the roots" renaissance movement among young Jews, and among young Jewish musicians. And remember, there were a lot of them.

So, this is in fact a movement that has grown strongly in very recent years. It moved back from the USA to Europe again, and the last few years have seen it spread to quite a sizable non-Jewish audience, so that klezmer today has become a concept within world music itself.

HENRIK BREDHOLT & ANN-MAI-BRITT FJORD: 'Klezmerduo - Danish klezmer. . . Oy Oy Oy'

My point then, with the whole discussion above, is that the Danish release, Klezmerduo, reflects clearly its European roots, it keeps a good distance from the more recent American influences. And I would consequently describe it more as being folk musical than world musical.

So one hears perhaps especially the old Northern European traditions, a little Austrian-Swiss, but also Balkan and a splash of gypsy music, in these songs. But all in all, the dance one is invited to, is the relatively structured folk dance, and not the more unreservedly syncopated, care-less klezmer, that the Americans play.

Jack Donen

THE KLEZMATICS: 'Possessed'

The Klezmatic's Possessed is just as clearly American, as the Danish Klezmerduo reviewed above, is European. It jumps, skips and bounces around, the voices and the music are 3-dimensional, and moods of the different songs break right through the recording-playback systems, and into the living room of the listener.

This is the fourth recording the group has made, and it's the first time they've presented primarily their own compositions. The record makes good listening for klezmer fans, though it's not, in my opinion, the best of their CDs (try listening to Shvagn=Toyt). But perhaps that's just because I miss them stretching out - and once more making the traditional songs that I've grown to know so well, from the old folk music repertoire - alive again, in their own special, swinging and carefree way.

Jack Donen

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VARIOUS ARTISTS: 'Best of Yiddish Songs and Klezmer Music'

This is a compilation of different Jewish groups and genres. Most of the groups are English, and one gets what seems to be an opening glimpse of rich cultural treasures here, that are worth following up on.

The influences on the music are mainly from Eastern Europe, Russia and Poland, Germany and the Balkans - and then there's plenty of gypsy influence, from the other great, wandering, musical nation, which the likewise wandering Jewish musicians through the centuries have absorbed and made their own

A non-Jewish musician once said about klezmer, that "They manage to play the most cheerful melodies with a touch of grief". In other words, this is Jewish blues, and I would then add that even when they play or sing the saddest melody, there will always be something full of life in it.

Some of the songs on the CD are traditional East European Jewish "folk" songs, about the "The Rabbi Elimeylech", and the "Yidl mitn Fidl" (the Jew with a violin), but note that even the sound of the title can be musical fun. And in any case, most of the record is pure klezmer. Clarinet and violin jumping and dancing their way through the amplifying system, the loudspeakers filling your room with "a joy and a delight".

So here you get a taste of fine groups like The Burning Bush and Jontef, and English ARC's compilation serves its purpose, as inspiration about to where to go for more. (Yes, that's right, more than just one joy and one delight).

Jack Donen

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SCHMUEL ACHIEZER: 'Soul Love'

The growing revival of Jewish klezmer music during the 80's and 90's has not yet found any real roots in Denmark. Though an American group playing in Copenhagen Jazz House a year ago called their music "klezmer", my own impression was of a seriously intellectual group of young avant garde jazz musicians, without much contact with the basic joyfulness and spontaneity of traditional klezmer.

Then the European Roots Festival in Copenhagen in January brought the Israeli clarinetist, Schmuel Achiezer, and with him a taste of klezmer's folk roots. Not to mention the urge to get up and dance.

Klezmer is folk music from the old Jewish cultures of Eastern Europe. Not at all unrelated to gypsy music, klezmer was also originally played by wandering musicians at weddings and religious festivals. Easily heard in it are the influences of the gypsies, The Balkan cultures, and Eastern Europe in general.

Schmuel Achiezer, as an Israeli, obviously has another kind of history than the mainstream of klezmer revival, which stems from the U.S.A., but his similar European roots are very much present in his music. In actual fact his style of klezmer can only bring to mind another Israeli musician, one born in Argentina, the master clarinetist Giora Feidman. As with Feidman, the music is not as collective as old-style klezmer, or most American klezmer. Achiezer is the leader of his group, and the music of the band is centered on him as a soloist.

The album includes many traditional favourites, and happily enough for this listener, Achiezer isn't as single-mindedly focussed on creating effects and working up a steam as he was, playing live at the festival. Here he's making more music and less show, and the music has a way of getting into one's system, one's heart, and one's feet - and moving it all around in a very pleasant fashion.

Jack Donen

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Sing to Me

(fra Djembe no.19)

"Klezmer is the vessel, music is the language,"

says Giora Feidman - a master musician in the tradition.

Saturday night at Gladsaxe Bio outside Copenhagen, people sitting on the floor in the aisles, the 600 seats expectantly packed. All waiting. For the clarinet of Giora Feidman. For the klezmer.

The Jews have wandered near and far, in Europe, North Africa and the near East for 2,000 years now, and klezmer is their world music. It's the music of the klezmorim, who wandered the roads between villages and towns, countries and cultures, for hundreds of years, playing their fiery music at weddings, religious holidays and celebrations of any and every kind.

Klezmer is a kind of East-European mix of gypsy, Balkan, Russian, and Oriental sounds, with a little Ladino, a circus band tucked away somewhere (yes, listen!), and not least with the modern American touch of jazz never far away.

So this was really an evening for people who are open to music in general, to cross cultural and also to cross generational fusions, of art and expression.

And Giora Feidman: Born in Argentina, fourth generation klezmer, now living in New York, he is an elderly, grayhaired, unassuming master - and master he is indeed - of the clarinet, who plays everything - and with feeling - mit gefühl.

From the Jewish klezmer he's supposed to be playing, to romantic ballads and many lullabies, to jazz and blues classics to classical classics, to regular foot stomping dance rhythms. And, of course, the klezmer always there, colouring his very personal sound - his fingers caressing the horn as he weaves through the gamut of human emotional expression, crying, laughing, teasing, dancing, angrily challenging, outrageously insistent - deeply loving.

Musician with a message

The album most synonymous with the name of Giora Feidman here in Denmark is one of his oldest CDs, namely 'Jewish Soul Music'. A good title, thought the words tend to belie the fact that his music is for all, encompassing as it does, the whole range of human feeling. Thus standing outside of divisory human mind games, instead acting to nourish the soul of all who care to listen.

Giora Feidman has, too, a lot to say verbally, from his mind and from his heart. At the press conference the day before the show, he'd introduced himself saying:

- And me, I'm from this planet.

Klezmer? It comes from the two Hebrew words 'kle' and 'zemer', meaning 'instrument of song'. The body is the highest instrument we know. The voice expresses the language we call music. It's not a verbal language. It's a spiritual language that expresses the spiritual ground of the human family. There is a wrong conception, that people say that klezmer music is Jewish music. It's not.

Klezmer is the vessel, music is the language. This body, this instrument, is able to express music. And it's not a talent, it's not a gift - it's a need! It's a natural force that must go out. It's not under our control.

We don't know that we 'know' - so instead, we think all day. While one of the facts is: the new-born baby that says to her mother "If you want to communicate with me, the only language that I know is the song. Sing to me!" And every mother on this entire planet will sing for her baby. Why? Again, because it's a natural force, that we can't resist.

In Judaism - the practice of Judaism, as the study of the Holy Bible, and prayers, everything is done through what we call music. A Jew cannot say a prayer, only sing a prayer. You cannot read the Torah, the Bible, you can only sing the Torah. Not only that: if you look at how the people pray, you see that they sing and they dance the prayer (editor: G.F. refers here to the Jewish practice of rhythmically, powerfully, rocking the upper part of the body back and forth whilst praying).

Because these two natural forces, singing and dancing, are the forces that connect us with the higher forces. This is the explanation of the klezmer. Klezmer? Why do I so much insist? Because human society has forgotten to sing. We don't sing enough at home. We don't sing with our families. We cannot even express, verbally, the value of singing.

Sing a tapestry

Make an experiment: Try to hate, and sing a song at the same time. Gehst nicht. Doesn't go. So imagine how near we are to having control of an energy that we call hate! Sing a song!

And the communication between the human family, and the communication with our family will be so much higher - it will be a tapestry of the human fabric, if we sing. If you one Sunday morning awaken after being frightened in the night, it doesn't matter. Sing! This is the meaning of klezmer.

And if one song can bring this human society together (hums 'Happy Birthday to You'), what is it? It's from Denmark? From Japan? From South America? (Hums again). And if I play this in Brazil, they say "Ah, you play Brazilian music". If I play it in Japan, they say "Ah, you play Japanese music". But it's a German song!

And so what! We're confused. Confused because we're educated to see borders. Which are a restriction. What are borders? This is my country - this is your country. A border is a line. Millions of human beings in all the history of the human race have paid with their lives, until this very moment, to defend an illusion, a lie! And if borders did exist, and the border is a line, why must this line separate people? This line can bring people together.

And if I take my clarinet in my hand. What you see is that I put it in my mouth, but in fact I connect with my inner, still voice. And I share with you something that was inside me. I share with you. Music is sharing. Music never is a question. It's an answer. Take it. you need to take this - and also to receive it, of course. This is the meaning of klezmer. And this is not an invention of the Jewish people. Judaism explains it like this: A rabbi will never say "play" - he says I'll "say" a melody! In Tibet they say "send" a melody.

'Play' is an actor in the theatre. No, we don't play the music. The music is inside of us, and we're a channel. We're a pipe. The pipe doesn't produce water, it lets the water flow. This is a pipe - this pipe is klezmer.

I'll take the responsibility

At the concert he's unobtrusively supported by a guitar and a contra-bass. After a while, he asks the audience to join him in a song, teaching them to hum an accompaniment to his gentle and sweetly soft clarinet. They hum softly back to him:

"You sing beautifully", he says.

"If you feel anything, here, in the next number (points to his solar plexus), open your mouth (demonstrates mouth wide open) - and let go. I'll take the responsibility"

And he plays an unknown melody - softly, beautifully, and so simply that the audience can easily sing it alone - as he stops playing, they carry on, softly.

"Ladies, you sound like paradise. If paradise sounds like that, let's all go to paradise.

Now - if you can (teasing the ladies), I'd like you to keep quiet for a moment, please. It's the men's turn".

He has them in the hollow of his palm. Playing everything from jazz songs to Ave Maria, a Jewish lullaby, an old Danish song 'I skovens dybe stille ro', East European melodies, and on and on - with feeling - so the heart understands and the mind stands still for a couple of hours.

Anti-semitic flowers

But back to the press conference.

- You ask about using music to communicate. Communication is here already - we are communicating. I don't need to use an intellectual medium to say "Oh, this is classic". "This is folk music". "This is jazz". When someone brings flowers to us - this is a good example - no-one ever says "I'm bringing you Jewish flowers". "I'm bringing you Christian flowers". "I'm bringing you anti-semitic flowers"!

In music also, it's not different kinds of music. It's music. And if you ask me, the highest music, the highest song, is the song of a mother for her baby. Higher than that doesn't exist.

Every human is nine months old

- What kind of influence my religion has on my music? I view religion as a medium and not as a purpose. I wasn't born to be a Jew. I was born as a human being. Judaism helps us to understand creation. But I've studied Sufism. I practice Buddhism. I'm very connected with Jesus - and anyone who will help me to understand creation. The main source - not only for me - for the Sufis - for many other peoples - is the Torah, the Bible. Yes, it's true, that's from Judaism. And what there is about Judaism is not easy to understand. Personally, Sufism helped me to understand Judaism. They say there is only one beat of the heart. There is not one Islam, one Christianity and so on. It's all One.

Music is a medium. It's not a purpose. And from my understanding religion too. Every human being is nine months old. After that is an illusion - age. And I'm not saying this because I'm 60 years old (smiles). After nine months in the mother's womb is the perfect person.

We're not surrounded by God - we are God.

Exit

And, at the end of the concert, after a couple of encores, and after once more teaching the audience a song, how about this final exit:

"One of the most beautiful acts of life in the human family is to sit together - and sing! So please don't applaud - just sing. Even when we go out - just sing - you can sit in your seats until the morning"

And the audience understood and sang, shushing a few who tentatively started clapping as the trio walked out through the aisles. Almost 600 voices caressing the sounds softly, letting him leave finally, in peace.

What more could a man ask for.

Jack Donen

This Klezmer Ring site is owned by
Jack Donen.

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