With its subtitle of Jewish-Oriental Brass From NYC's Lower East Side, this album by klezmer and new Jewish music mastermind Frank London is all that and more. For one, the title Di Shikere Kapelye translates literally as "Inebriated Orchestra" or "Band of Drunks." This album, recorded in the Knitting Factory bar after knocking back a few -- or more -- is a tribute to an ensemble by the same name that existed in the early 19th century. They are reportedly the root influence behind all klezmer -- and why for so many decades the "klezmorim" had such a dastardly reputation! London's band includes London on trumpet and alto horn, Matt Darriau on clarinets and saxophones, Susan Sandler on trumpet, and David Licht on drums, cymbals, and pook, among others. The music is step lively, playing to a beat called "the Oriental," in which Licht has to play sideways, full on tempi for the entire gig. Bet he got tired. The others in the band take klezmer tunes, rework their harmonic structures, rearrange them, and come out stomping like a New Orleans brass band. The precision that these players exhibit is completely otherworldly. Though wasted, they are literally playing their asses off! One listen to the medley of "Rakhomes," "A Shikers, Kholem," and "Der Yid Vet Trinkn," is enough to convince even the most uptight rock & roll stalwart to get out on the floor and dance like a wildman. All the forms are here, from waltzes to bulgars, freylekhs, and khosidils as well as doyens and horas. The titles are hilarious, and revealing them here would only ruin the fun. This is perhaps the only party record you will ever need if you want your house wrecked by a joyful mob of stomping, drunken dancers who are merely honoring tradition. 'Nuf said.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek