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Metropolitan Klezmer

Mosaic Persuasion reviews

They display a serious commitment to klezmer roots, whether in the mists of Eastern European history or the stages of the Yiddish theater, but that doesn’t prevent them from putting their own twist on the arrangements in order to establish a thoroughly contemporary sound no matter how traditional the piece of music they’re playing may be…. Anyone with a taste for excellent music brilliantly played should love Mosaic Persuasion.
Shaun Dale, Cosmik Debris
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Metropolitan Klezmer…embraces the protean, polyglot character of klezmer music…with a playful yet authoritative touch, mixing equal parts authenticity and creativity…Consider Eastern Village Hanuka from the album Mosaic Persuasion. Here the band transforms Hanuka Oh Hanuka – a holiday song so common it could be called the Jewish Jingle Bells – into an Eastern-style, odd-meter dance.
Rob Taube, Our Town (NYC)

AN ODYSSEY OF NEW KLEZMER RECORDINGS, 2001:
The terrific new CD ‘Mosaic Persuasion’…a snazzy mixture of upbeat Eastern European dance tunes, Middle Eastern-influenced improvisations and luscious Yiddish theater tunes deliverd by vocalist Deborah Karpel with just enough of an edge…” “The album ranges from dignified, small ensemble, Old World-style horas to jazzy, frenetic, big-band style tunes. The playing as always is top-notch, particularly Steve Elson’s clarinet, Pam Fleming’s trumpet and Eve Sicular’s drums. The group subtly twists some tunes rhythmically and contextually, and Deborah Karpel’s vocals boast a natural allure so hot it ought to be licensed, taxed and regulated. Of particular seasonal note, the album includes “East(ern) Village Hanuka,” a Turkish-flavored reworking of the holiday classic, “Oh Hanukah!”
Seth Rogovoy at berkshireweb.com (author, THE ESSENTIAL KLEZMER)

If there is such a thing as mainstream klezmer, these… typify the sub-genre splendidly… a good job of choosing a mix of traditional bulgars and the like, and also digs deep for overlooked poetry that can be set to music. A sterling example is ‘Unter di Khurves fun Poyln’ [Under the Ruins of Poland], a poem by Itsik Manger, lamenting the loss of a girlfriend during the Holocaust. Mostly, though, these songs are uplifting, a happy collection of tunes meant to convey the broader range of emotions to which klezmer has always provided a soundtrack
Ed Silverman, Dirty Linen Folk & World Music Magazine

It sure didn’t take long for these guys to emerge as one of the best traditional klezmer bands around. Their first CD served notice that they were a force to be reckoned with and there sure wasn’t a sophomore jinx. A tighter, more unified sound than ever, with leader Eve Sicular booting things along from her drum kit. A band that can handle any tempo and a wide range of moods with equal mastery. 5 stars.
George Robinson, Top 10 CD’s List, JEWISH WEEK(NYC)

unscheinbare aber sehr gute Gruppe – eine meiner Favoriten!

The CD is extraordinary. In every regard. In terms of craft, no wish is left unfulfilled. The musicians play with effortless precision. Throughout, even with the familiar traditional pieces, the tracks are arranged and played with lots of emotional richness, a wealth of ideas, and passion.

One of my favorite pieces, “Uskudar Taxim/Terk in Amerika,” is especially well realized. It contains the essence of the old recordings; one feels touched by nostalgia. On the other hand, one will also be grabbed by the interesting new interpretation. A wonderfully beautiful accordion solo. Similar things hold true for the remaining pieces: they bubble with stimulation and are truly the good old favorite songs.

In brief, simply one of the most outstanding recordings of Jewish music. A personal note: a couple of days ago, I had a discussion with a musician about what I expect from the liner notes of a klezmer CD, and how they should not look. Those of Mosaic Persuasion are short and informative, a model example. No blather, just pertinent info on all the pieces, and song texts in Yiddish, English, and transliteration.”
– Stefan (Gus) Bauer, Virtual Klezmer [www.klezmer.de, Germany]
Full English translation

The title “Mosaic Persuasion” is a very apt “double entendre”, “mosaic” here being intended both in the meaning of referring to the laws of Moses (in other words, ‘Mosaic means never having to say you’re Jewish’) and in that of a multi-faceted image, where a large number of individual elements combine to form a larger image. This metaphor could hardly be more appropriate to describe the eclectic music of Metropolitan Klezmer… A strong, thoroughly consistent album. The arrangements are flawless and even elegant, the musicianship and virtuosity impeccable. Throw in superb ensemble playing and a great deal of exuberance and flair, as well as a truly cosmopolitan instrumental palette with excellent “doubling” by all members, and you’ve got an outstandingly versatile band. The presence of members of The Isle of Klezbos complements Metropolitan Klezmer seamlessly, and their contributions certainly make one wish to hear more of this all female band.
Renaissance Man, Rainlore

MK’s debut CD, ‘Yiddish For Travelers,’ was highly acclaimed for its electrifying renditions of classic Yiddish tunes. Their follow-up disc ‘Mosaic Persuasion’ features more of the same: lively and energetic dance music from Eastern Europe spills out of this CD with rollicking joy. The Isle of Klezbos, an all-woman Klezmer band, is also featured.
Hear’s Music e-zine

an urban, sophisticated sound, with crisp solos and exquisite ensemble playing…. the musicality is true, and the American-bred enthusiasm is unmistakable.
Gigi Yellen-Kohn, Jewish Transcript (Seattle)

[Best of 2000 recordings list] The band, smoking, jazzy, under incredibly tight, precise control, sets off with a couple of dance done not too fast, not too slow, but so right that our feet begin moving around the room. ‘Brandwein in the Lotus Groove’ melds some perfect jazz rhythm with classic Brandwein … vocalist Deborah Karpel demonstrates … an excellent reading of Itzik Manger’s ‘Unter di Khurves fun Poyln’ (Under the ruins of Poland), and the rest of the band, are impeccable. And that’s the tone for the album: pounding traditional klezmer, or even rollicking untraditional klezmer as on the ‘Humphrey Bulgar, perfectly set Yiddish Broadway (well, New York Second Avenue), and the occasional Balkan digression, as on Butera’s arrangement of ‘Uskudar Taxim’ merging into another Brandwein tune, ‘Terk in Amerike’ and reminding us of the Brandwein tune’s roots.. .”The thing is, while this band plays jazz quite well, they also manage to strike a far eastern, very traditional tune on numbers such as the concluding ‘Szol a Kakas Mar’ and ‘Araber Tants’. With Metropolitan Klezmer, one gets to have one’s cake — modern, bouncy, jazzy music — and eat it too — to dance to traditional, impeccably timed and performed instrumental klezmer music. It is worth noting that this recording, like many performances, also features bandleader Sicular’s all-woman ensemble, Isle of Klezbos. The resulting super-ensemble is proof that two great bands can add up to even more. It also provides an excuse to present goodies such as Pam Fleming’s thoughtfully danceful, Epstein-Brothers hinted ‘Rifka’s Dream’.
Ari Davidow, KlezmerShack

In de marge van de activiteiten van John Zorn, de bescheiden, maar invloedrijke New Yorkse saxofonist, componist, arrangeur en zoveel meer, zijn een heleboel projecten als paddestoelen uit de grond gerezen. De joodse klezmer speelt daarin een voorname rol. Denk aan de experimentele soloplaten en de cd’s van Masada.

Terwijl de meester constant nieuwe horizonten verkent, zijn een aantal muzikanten aan de slag gegaan in Metropolitan Klezmer, een formatie die all-things-yiddish brengt in een eindeloze variëteit. In ’94 hield drumster Eve Sicular (lid van een muzikale familie-van-stand) MK boven de doopvont. Yiddish For Travellers volgde weldra. In ’98 was er al een zusterformatie: niets dan dames in Isle of Klezbos (naam spreekt boekdelen). Voor de tweede outing, Mosaic Persuasion, kwamen ze alweer samen. Onbegonnen werk te vertellen met wie deze bedreven muzikanten allemaal samenwerkten, maar het lijstje is indrukwekkend. Het laat zich raden: de in hoofdzaak traditionele composities worden vaardig, met stielkennis en liefde gebracht. Daar kan je geen speld tussen krijgen: accordeon, viool, klarinet, trompet en zang (een knappe Deborah Karpel!) eisen om beurten de hoofdrol.

Het speelplezier druipt van deze plaat die net als Bente Kahans Jewish Songs weinig nieuws brengt, maar als overzicht van dit segment van de Yiddishe muziek wérkt.
Marc Dolan, RootsTown Folk & Roots Music Magazine (Belgium)

Metropolitan Klezmer, one of my favorite traditional ensembles, is about to release a new CD, MOSAIC PERSUASION. Those who remember the debut album, YIDDISH FOR TRAVELERS, or who have seen this excellent combo live (or both!) will be most excited… If you liked the band’s first album… (I liked it a lot!), you’ll find the new album deeper, better, and even more fun. Notable are a very swinging ‘Abi Gezunt;’ a very cool fusion of Eastern Europe and American Jazz in the ‘East[ern] Village Hanuka.’ Therer’s also a version of ‘Lomir zikh iberbetn’ (Let’s make up)… Wish I was in the Village right now listening for this band that is still, clearly, worth driving the four hours down from Boston for. At least that’s what the first listen sounds like. There will be many more.
Ari Davidow, KlezmerShack


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