SHE’KOYOKH KLEZMER ENSEMBLE
The She’koyokh Klezmer Ensemble has become somewhat of a sensation in British music circles for their tight, soulful variation on traditional Ashkenazic klezmer music musically informed by strains and influences from Sephardic, Roma, Balkan and Parisian jazz traditions.
The joyous dance tune “Russian Shers,” which opens the album and gives various instrumentalists the chance to interact with each other in a way that lots of fun, is among my favourite tracks on the CD. Others include “Bendi Glendi,” in which guitarist Matt Bacon demonstrates his great facility on a Django Reinhardt-like jazz tune; “Hora with Onions,” a Naftule Brandwein tune that becomes a showcase for violinist Meg Hamilton; “Rampi Rampi,” a Turkish Roma piece in which percussionist Vasilis Sarikis and singer Cigdem Aslan – who was born in Istanbul – are highlighted; and “Train to Orestiada,” which features clarinetist Susi Evans on an arrangement that’s imagined as a Ukranian klezmer band playing in a Greek nightclub in Athens.
While I’ve called attention to a few of the She’koyokh musicians as pertaining to the cited selections, they and the rest of the band – Oliver Baldwin on tambura, Robin Harris on trombone and Ben Samuels on mandolin – are all delightful throughout the 14 selections clocking in at more than an hour.