Beyond the Pale

Consensus: Live in Concert

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The Pale was the name for a limited geographical area of Tsarist Russia within which Jews were allowed to live. So Beyond the Pale is the perfect name for a band that plays klezmer music (the jazzy folk music of Eastern European Jewry) but refuses to be bound by traditional stylistic limitations. And a live recording is the perfect way to experience Beyond the Pale's joyful, sophisticated, and frequently humorous music. Led by mandolinist Eric Stein, the group takes you on a tour of klezmer music past and klezmer music future. There are songs both touching (a Yinglish song of unrequited love titled "Oy, I Like She") and hilarious (the slightly risqué music hall song "Halevaye," here reworked into a galloping ska groove and retitled "Skalavaye"), as well as original instrumentals of both scintillating energy ("Reunion") and quiet, bittersweet beauty ("Moses Nign," "Bulcharescu"). Not a single track is weak, obvious, underplayed, or overplayed -- Consensus is probably the best klezmer album of 2004.

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