Wolf Krakowski

Goyrl: Destiny

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After Wolf Krakowski's last outing, the stunning Transmigrations: Gilgul, he and his band, the Lonesome Brothers, took country music to the extreme margins of integration, where it met blues and traditional Yiddish music in a swirl of loss, longing, and celebrations of holiday foods. This time out, Krakowski branches out even further to mine the deep vein of musical cultures from all over the world -- reggae, tango -- without losing his beautifully mystifying meld of traditional Yiddish folk melodies or American country and folk-blues. Had he written his own material this way, we could have called him an original, but Krakowski's upside-down cake of musical mementos is actually the accompanying soundtrack for a bunch of radically rearranged Yiddish songs from the theater, pop, and folk musics. Composers from the last century, such as Abraham Levin, Itzak Manger, Shmuel Halkin, and others, are represented here in clashing forms where pedal-steel guitars meet steel drums from Trinidad on "Mit Farmakhte Oygin" (With Eyes Closed), or Kurt Weill's German cabaret meets the Italian tarantella and a crunchy electric guitar on "Dona Dona." In fact, the depths are so profound and rich here they defy categorization, other than "great Jewish music." This is the accumulated music of the diaspora of a people who have settled in almost every corner of the earth and who cling to their identity despite many attempts to wipe it -- and them -- out. Krakowski's recording, which was produced by Frank London of the Klezmatics, is, consciously or not, a signpost for the way to the future. He uses the past as a way of being inclusive rather than as a tool for revision. This is gorgeous music any way you slice it, moving, deep, sensual, and full of a warm humor to boot.

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