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Klazz-Ma-Tazz: Meshugenah

I can’t pretend to know much about klezmer inspired music - in fact I had to Google the term to discover what it means: ‘a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Eastern European Jews - so discovering that Klazz-Ma-Tazz mainman, violinist Benjamin Sutin, had set out to create contemporary music klezmer left me none the wiser. And in truth, after spending a few weeks going back and forth with Meshugenah I’m probably still exactly where I started.

With Sutin joined by six other musicians, what we seem to have here is traditional Balkan/Jewish violin led music which darts into jazz, avant-garde, funk and world music. Alongside the aforementioned violin it’s the sax and clarinet work from Elijah Shiffer and accordion playing from Benjamin Rosenblum which make the strongest impressions. Although the jazz based drumming from Tim Rachbach (Shiffer and Rachbach both also featuring on the Elijah Shiffer And The Robber Crabs album that left me equally flummoxed recently) can’t go without mention, as this guy is super talented and very sympathetic to his surrounds.

“Mein Shtetele Belz” opens, wheezing accordion dancing into whirling violin, frilly sax and guitar outbursts, while “In Odessa” hits like folk-jazz-prog without any real guitar presence. In all honesty I’ve few reference points for this stuff and little way of breaking down its walls and I found this an incredibly difficult album to work my way through more than a couple of times. Not because the performances are sub-standard or the recordings anything other than expert, it is simply that I could find no way of breaking into the world being created here. All that is except for the bizarre funk-a-bump of “Cyberbalkanization” which oompahs along like a crazed brass-funk experiment and has you grooving away in response. Beyond that, this is, unfortunately, not for me.

Track Listing
1. Mein Shtetele Belz
2. Svalava Kozatshok
3. Cyberbalkanization
4. Tumbalalaika
5. Sheyn Vi Di Levone
6. In Odessa
7. Sunrise, Sunset
8. Rumshinsky's Bulgar
9. Bei Mir Bist Du Schön
10. Letting Go Part 1
11. Letting Go Part 2

Added: December 2nd 2018
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Klazz-Ma-Tazz on bandcamp
Hits: 740
Language: english

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