Naftules_dreams-smash_clap_span3
April 1999

Naftule's Dream
Smash, Clap!
Tzadik

This is without a doubt the most startlingly original, audacious music I've heard since the previous Naftule's Dreams cd, last year's Search for the Golden Dreydl. What else can you say about a band that combines klezmer music and free jazz with feedback guitar into an organic, fully realized whole? It's a remarkable balancing act of discipline and unabashed noise, technical brilliance and a completely contrary punk/no-wave aesthetic.

This rowdy bunch of musical renegades from Boston whips up more klezmer madness on their sophomore outing. Led by clarinetist Glenn Dickson, Naftule's Dreams takes a decidedly irreverent approach to the ancient tradition of klezmer. All the strict discipline that the genre demands is there in the tightly executed unison lines, tricky stop-time maneuvers and odd time signatures. But the soloists are constantly at liberty to wail like they're in Muhal Richard Abrams' band. This all makes for an astonishing juxtaposition of cohesion and surprise.

Guitarist Pete Fitzpatrick adds a punkish edge throughout with his scratchy fuzztones, feedback blitzes, and wang bar freakouts, and is particularly prominent in that regard on "Speed Klez" and "Free Klez 3 & 4." Trombonist David Harris explores his instrument with impunity on "Black Wedding" and "Yid in Seattle" while pianist Michael McLaughlin summons up the provocative power of Horace Tapscott or Cecil Taylor on "Friend of Kafka." McLaughlin changes up the texture now and again by switching to accordian, as on "The Wanderer" and "Yid in Seattle," a tune that simultaneously evokes Ennio Morricone's spaghetti Western soundtracks, R.E.M.'s enigmatic/anthemic pop and klezmer music. John Manning grounds the proceedings with his insistent tuba groovepower while drummer Eric Rosenthal provides a rock/fusion kick from behind the kit. Imagine Albert Mangelsdorf, Ivo Papasov, Jimi Hendrix, and Ran Blake jamming with the Dirty Dozen Brass Band at a Hassidic wedding and you'll get a piece of the idiosyncratic picture here.

Originally published in April 1999
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