Various Artists

Hidden Gate: Jewish Music Around the World

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This collection of contemporary Jewish music ranges from souped-up klezmer and traditional songs to a more adult contemporary pop sound, but the thread of soulful, passionate performances runs throughout. The hilarious "Chicken," courtesy of Kapelye, contrasts with Savina Yannatou's stark, almost classical take on "El Sueño de la Hija del Rey," but both burn with the fiery urgency that music from the Jewish culture seems to exude so naturally. The Klezmatics turn in a relatively reserved (but excellent) tune, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band's '40s big-band-influenced run through "Oy, S'Iz Gut (Oh, It's Good)" swings from maudlin to blast-off, occasionally within the same measure. A handful of tracks (Ofra Haza's "Ayelet Chen," Maurice el Medioni's "Yal Maalem/Kelbi Razahi") drift closer to the adult contemporary end of the spectrum, and therefore stand out as being different than the more traditionally minded material that makes up the rest of the two-disc set, but if Rounder intended to paint a broad portrait of Jewish music from around the world and across every boundary, they have succeeded marvelously.

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