Music of the Old Jewish World

The Burning Bush

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Music of the Old Jewish World Review

by Adam Greenberg

Burning Bush' Music of the Old Jewish World is a collection of Jewish music spanning the full range of the Diaspore. The Ashkenazi songs of Europe are represented; the Ladino songs of the Sephardim are represented; the works from the North African arm of the Diaspore are represented; the Eastern European innovations that came after the expulsion from Iberia are represented; and a semi-traditional form of klezmer is represented; all within the course of a single hour-long disc. As much as possible, the instrumentation native to the region of origin for a given song is used. As Burning Bush is really a cultural troupe, their abilities manifest themselves more in breadth than in depth. It's not the best klezmer you'll ever hear, but it's good. It's not the best Sephardic singing you'll ever hear, but it's good. Such is the case with the whole of their music. As such, this album (and others by them) makes for an outstanding introduction into the varied forms of Jewish music, giving the listener a good head start into discovering new styles, which they can then follow up on with other artists in each subgenre. The Hassidic frenzies that they go into here are really something worth hearing, as is the klezmer they slip into from time to time. The Eastern European medleys that they run through are worthwhile for the purpose of hearing some fine dulcimer playing, if nothing else (Jon Banks is a master of the tsimbl, cimbalom, qanun, and other such dulcimers). Lucie Skeaping's enunciation is always intensely perfect, but seems somewhat forced in the process at times. The instrumental portions are the most noteworthy aspect of the whole, as the band can both rush through a thrashing of klezmer horn arrangements, and pull off a soft string arrangement equally well. For a basic introduction into the diverse forms of Jewish music, this album is quite a worthwhile choice.

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