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Zebrina: Hamidbar Medaber

Klezmer-it basically translates to 'traditional eastern European Jewish music', and Toronto's Zebrina specialize in this exciting art form. The band have been around since 2008, and are comprised of Jonathan Feldman (keyboards), Joel Schwartz (electric guitar), Bret Higgins (electric bass), Max Senitt (percussion), and Juan Carlos Medrano (percussion), with special guest Ben Goldberg (New Klezmer Trio, Unfold Ordinary Mind, Tin Hat) on clarinet. Their latest album Hamidbar Medaber blends klezmer with world music, a little bit of prog rock, avant-garde, and a healthy dose of dramatic '70s styled fusion. The band lists influences ranging from Miles Davis, John Zorn, and Medeski Martin & Wood, among others, so you have a little sense of the background they are coming from.

Many of the tracks here on Hamidbar Medaber slither along with a mysterious edge, "The Desert Speaks" featuring some Middle Eastern sitar sounds weaving around some pretty tasty electric piano & clarinet, while "The Spirit Within" offers a more aggressive attack that centers on a thrilling guitar solo. The complex & quirky "Higher Power" has an almost free-jazz element to it, as dissonant clarinet, electric piano, and percussion lines do battle with each other. "Breath of Life" might be the most compelling piece here, a lovely '70s styled fusion number with a Latin flair, bringing to mind some of the more melodic material of Chick Corea's Return to Forever. Feldman's Fender Rhodes is simply outstanding on this one. The band even dips into a bit of bluesy funk on the upbeat "Freedom Groove", as Hammond B3, clarinet, and biting guitar fly about the mix over some deep rhythms.

Zebrina were able to get the attention of John Zorn, so Hamidbar Medaber finds itself on his label Tzadik Records, which is a great opportunity for the band. This is a really cool album from a very talented band, featuring catchy melodies and wonderful instrumentation. Call it klezmer, call it jazz, or call it whatever, but in the end you'll simply call it excellent.

Track Listing
1. Chant of Ages
2. Revolution in my Mind
3. The Spirit Within
4. The Desert Speaks
5. Higher Power
6. Breath of Life
7. The Guru's Advice
8. Freedom Groove

Added: July 20th 2014
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Facebook Page
Hits: 2660
Language: english

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