Klezmania's lively Oystralia Sam Lipski Australian Jewish News 1995 In the beginning there was the Klezmer Trio. Now there is Klezmania, a quartet which grew out of the trio, with more than a dozen instruments (including didgeridoo) between them, playing and singing up a storm on their first CD oystralia. Anyone with the slightest feel for this marvellous music, it's classic songs of theatre and celebration, and the power of Yiddish vernacular to stir and amuse should make sure they have this recording. It is, of course, especially noteworthy that the performers are our own oystralians Freydi Mrocki, David Breytman, David Krycer and Lionel Mrocki. But that doesn't mean we need to make any allowances for the homegrown product. On the contrary, it is really exciting to see how this latest example of Klezmania's art is a CD whose musical, recording and authenticity standards compare with the best of the international klezmer CDs now proliferating in Israel, North America and Europe. In some aspects of it's presentation, such as the way the songs are made available in transliterated Yiddish and English translation, it is even better than the best. There are some familiar tracks, and some that will be new to lovers of Yiddish song. All are presented with freshness. The title number is a clever piece of Oz-Yiddish and great good fun. On this track and elsewhere, Freydi Mrocki is in better and more robust voice than ever, her playful change of mood and expression in Di Varnitshkes and then the tug at the heartstrings with her a capella lullaby Dremlen Feygl show her growth as an artist over recent years. Her clear Yiddish expression, distinct and word by word is, as always, a joy. Freydi's fellow musicians give superbly understated support as backing singers where appropriate and come into their own strongly in the instrumental accompaniment and solos - especially with clarinet, harmonica and accordion. (CD Klezmania Records OZKLEZ 001) ********************************** Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 9/26/97 This is a really fun intro from the first klezmer band to send me a review-worthy recording from 'down under.' What is most striking is that, for the most part, this album could have been made in the United States. The opening '7:40,' one of my favorite 'speed klez' tunes leads into a wistful folksong, 'Sheyn Vi Di Levone' (As matchless as the moon), and excepting a version of 'Di Mashke' which is okay, but feels faintly of the 'I am singing a quaint song from long ago' that characterizes many contemporary male vocals of Yiddish songs, this is quite the wonderful Jewish music/klezmer sampler. Lest we forget that this album is from Australia, and not Boston or Winipeg or San Francisco, there is the delightful 'Tale of the Kangaroo Klezmer' and, of course, an Australian version of 'Romania, Romania.' But where Lebedeff was singing nostalgically of the pleasures of a Romania that he had left behind, Klezmania sings with gusto of the pleasures of the Australia to which they have arrived: booze, barbecues, and didgeridoos. This type of adaptation of this particular song, which I first heard from the Mazeltones on their 'Seattle, Romania' recording is especially poignant as it reflects the very real fondness those fleeing oppression feel on finding a welcoming haven, be it the Americas or, yes indeed, mate, that other new world: Australia. It also reflects the difference between the period when Lebedeff sang, when the New World was still scary and foreign, and a couple of generations later when, mostly assimilated, we are rediscovering whence we came (Note the opposite contradictions in the way each generation has used this song). Another pleasure lies in the sheer diversity of the album. Female vocalist Freydi Mrocki's singing is expressive, and a delightful discovery. Her rendition of the wistful Holocaust lullaby, a capella 'Dremlen Feygl' is near-perfect. The band also finds room for the haunting, chamber-music-like Russian folk song 'nyet nyet', which they claim was popular among Hassidim sung in defiance of oppression. The clarinet is especially notable, as well as a perfect bass behind it, and then the chorus of vocals arrive. Special. And, then, moving on, a few songs later we have a delightful non-klez Slim Gaillard 'Dunkin' Bagels.' (I hope this is not discovered by a Northeast US donut chain that has recently begun marketing bagel-shaped breads.) In this versatility and musical excellence the band reminds me of that mindblowing, elusive Canadian prairie treasure, Winnipeg's own Finjan. In short, this is the sort of diverse and delightfully-played Jewish music album that typifies the best of klezmer revival recordings in the US and Canada (a range of styles different from those encountered in Europe). The unfamiliar Yiddish folksongs that are presented are an added bonus, as is the (to me, unfamiliar) vocal accompaniment to 'Vu bistu geven.' The fact that this album comes from Australia, instead Canada or the United States, only ensures that this is 'must have' album. Someone should distribute this in the Europe and the States. [snip], this one's for you.
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