In this CD you can listen to one of the latest developments of the genre called Klezmer-Music.
The members of the group are active klezmer - i.e performing in a traditional manner Jewish East-European repertory. However they follow a rather new path of this field: Their music sounds much more virtuose and free both in individual solo-playing and orchestral colors then the usual klezmer-band.
Let us mention that the tunes were not "arranged" but played spontanously in concert and they would probably sound very different whenever played again. This sophisticated improvisatoty technique is due to the jazz-background of some of the players, who are nevertheless highly respectful to the specifity of the Jewish instrumental style. This blend makes this CD unique in the genre.
The first recording of Moshe Berlin's of which I am aware was of his ensemble, "Sulam" which featured, among other people, the great late Russian-Israeli jazz flautist Roman Kunsman (1941 - 2002). Kunsman had founded Israel's first major jazz band, "Platina" in the early 1970s. By the 1980s, however, he was playing klezmer with Moussa Berlin and the two of them were making incredible music. That 1992 live CD (recorded in 1990) is one of my most treasured klezmer albums. What is even more interesting is that note at the bottom of the bottom of the liner notes that this concert was recorded at a Tel Aviv workshop that included Brave Old World and the Klezmatics.
Since Kunsman's death, there have been several tributes, include the belated release of the Platina's third album, a jazzed up Debussy set titled "the girl with the flaxen hair. But the best tribute of all may be this re-release of the Sulam album, with some new tracks featuring Kunsman added. As on the original album, they are playing primarily music from the Meron repertoire (hasidic tunes brought over in the 18th century by the great pre-Zionist, post-Chielmenicki Hasidic migration to Tsfat and remembered/built-on since then, occasionally dipping into Israeli folk music (V'ulai) or the faux hasidic repertoire of Giora Feidman ("The Lord will bless his people with peace/Sammy's freilach).
Berlin's clarinet is, as always, stunning. But the real revelation is Kunsman's jazz-influenced flute and his interplay with Berlin and with the rest of the band (none of whom are slouches, either). Many of the songs have the added edge of being played live.
Israeli klezmer is much more sweetly arranged than American klezmer, and usually, much less jazzy. The discordance that gives American klezmer so much of its soul is here replaced by a focus on tunefulness and harmony. The violin playing "Belz" and "Oyfn Pripechik" on the "Yiddish Nign and Dances" medley is simply as close to perfection as one can get. At the same time, the band turns the Israeli folk chestnut, "v'ulai" (and maybe these things never happened....) into an incredibly soulful, deep, klezmerized experience finally breaking out into a perfectly-paced dance led by Kunsman's flute entwined with Berlin's clarinet over and under back and forth as the band maintains a rhythm that simply moves without the American "oom pa pa" that drives me crazy.
Revisited by Ari Davidow, 10/4/04
It is mind-blowing that this is Moshe Berlin's first recording. It has certainly been one of my favorites for a lot of years. Recorded in Germany with a versatile ensemble that includes Roman Kunsman on flute (leader of Israel's most famous 1970s jazz band, Platina) and others equally stellar, the real star here is Berlin, whose clarinet soars through traditional melodies that often sound just a bit different from what we are more used to in the United States. The repertoire also ranges from traditional Eastern European to klezmer to modern hasidic. Some of that has to do with the concept of the "Meron" tradition. Meron is a town near Tzfat (Safed) in Israel's north. During the 16th century, the world's major kabbalists--men like Luria and Josef Caro--shaped much of what we now know as Jewish spirituality in Tzfat. Today's Meron tradition likelier harks back to the Hasidic influx of the 19th century, but even so, these tunes, as played by Berlin, embody a spirituality and grace that is seldom captured--or even understood to be part of klezmer. Even when the band plays familiar tunes, as on the "Yiddish Nign and Dances" with stitched together melodies from "Belz" and "Oyfn Prepetchik", featuring solos by Kunsman, there is a grace and skill to this playing that is rare. Sadly, Berlin is not only the extraordinary klezmer from Israel, but possibly the only klezmer from Israel worth listening to. Given skill and soul this deep, that's enough [GRADE: A+]
Appeared on firstname.lastname@example.org:
Today was certainly a musical day for me.
Moshe Berlin's "Sulam" was in my mailbox this morning. I had ordered
it because Moshe --- is it proper to address you as Moshe, Moshe? If
not, please accept my apology --- mentioned that he and his
compatriots played it without written music. Moshe didn't mention that
apparently "Sulam" is the first CD that he ever recorded.
"Sulam" is equally divided between clarinet, flute, and fiddle with
piano & percussion parts. So it's not just clarinet. The flute and
fiddle parts are top notch also. The songs have a much wider variety
of styles and colors and tempos and moods than I expected to hear on a
I do recommend "Sulam" for it's overall musical value, not just for its
"There was only one genuine klezmer group at the festival this year... Their rough-sounding clarinets speak to God, not to the box office" (Pamela Kidron in The Jerusalem Post July6. 1990)
"Mossa Berlin is the man of Meron klezmer style... He is one of the bussiest klezmers even without any public relations" (Israel Zohar in Maariv July 14, 1989)
"What mussa Berlin has done tonight, I haven't seen such in my life" (Yosi Mar-Haim, musical manager of the forth Safed festival in a vuvud broadcast of the conclusive concert of the festival)
Check out the artist's website:
1. The Lord will bless his people with Peace/Sammy's Freilakh (Gior
2. Dobranoc and Skocna (trad.)
3. Yiddish Nign and Dances
4. My Father's Nign (trad., in the style of Modzhitz)
5. Ve'ulai'Â”And Maybe (Rachel/Yehuda Sharet)
6. Freilakh Number 19 (trad. Balkan)
7. *The Flute (David Zahavi)
8. Two Lights (Mordechai Ze'eera)
9. *Chasidic Dance (Roman Kunsman)
10. Three Modzhitzer Niggunim (trad. Modzhitz, arr. Kunsman)
11. Meron Spirit (trad.)