Naftule's Dream

Live in Florence

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Released less than a year after Naftule's Dream's live album, Job, Live in Florence works as both a counterpart and complement. Job was a high-class recording, taped live but extensively "enhanced" in post-production by Bill Laswell -- polished to a point where you start to lose the grittiness of true live playing in favor of a re-created in-your-face sound. Recorded on April 30, 2001, direct to two-track digital audio tape, Live in Florence preserves more of the ambience of a Naftule's Dream concert while sacrificing on hi-fi quality. What's more interesting is the fact that both albums intersect very little when it comes to track lists, with only "A Prayer for No One," "Industrial Bulgar," and "Dirge Sirba" appearing on both -- and upon hearing the versions of the latter two, you'll understand why they are reprised here. The remainder of the set comes mostly from 1998's Smash, Clap. The band is in great shape, delivering a mean "Free Klez" as the disc's opener and keeping the energy level way up throughout the set. Clarinetist Glenn Dickson's playfulness shines in "The Wanderer" while the soulful "A Prayer for No One" documents his tender, soulful side. Newcomers to the group's modern, free jazz-informed take on klezmer should start with Job or a studio album, but the enthusiast willing to tolerate a certain muddiness in sound quality will find Live in Florence an enjoyable addition to their discography.

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