Veteran klezmer musician Andy Statman, who inherited a clarinet from klezmer legend Dave Tarras, leaves the past behind on a series of John Coltrane-inflected voyages to the dark, mystical heart of Yiddish music. Featured are cosmic jazz interpretations of devotional music (deveykus niggum), table-songs (tisch niggunim), and traditional dances (rikkudim). While most of the material unfurls slowly, a pair of cuts with guesting newgrass banjo player Béla Fleck absolutely sparkle. On "Purim Niggun," Statman and Fleck even abandon the reverential tone of the rest of the disc to kick their heels at a dance tune Statman originally learned from an old Naftule Brandwein 78 rpm recording. Most of the pieces were recorded live in the studio with lots of improvising by Statman and quartet members Kenny Werner, Harvie Swartz, and Bob Weiner, and the lack of overdub diddling results in a terrific immediacy.
Between Heaven & Earth: Music of the Jewish Mystics Review
by Bob Tarte