Les Yeux Noirs

Tchorba

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Klezmer music has been one of the more recent ethnic genres to be subjected to the predations of DJs and electronica funkmeisters, and the results have sometimes been thrilling. But the French Gypsy/Jewish ensemble les Yeux Noirs take the idea of klezmer fusion in a whole different direction, mixing equal parts traditional Romany melodies, Yiddish songs, jazz instrumentation, and a modern pop sensibility with judicious samples and a punky, hard-driving energy, and coming up with something that evokes a multitude of European musical traditions while ultimately sounding wholly unique. On Tchorba the title track swings so hard that it rocks (or vice versa, if you prefer), while "Belle Amour" sounds like Charles Trenet sitting in with Django Reinhardt and "Désirs Dérisoires" brings in a strutting reggae beat. There's a long and brilliant hammered dulcimer solo on the jazzy instrumental "Zam'hora Pe Opt," while "Yankele" is a lovely Yiddish lullaby and "Le Voyage" sets a Baudelaire poem to a rollicking polka rhythm. "Petite" ends the album on a slightly overripe note, but it's not enough to take away significantly from the album's triumph overall. Very highly recommended.

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