Andy Statman Quartet: Between Heaven and Earth: Music of the Jewish Mystics

It’s impossible to classify klezmer, the instrumental music of Eastern European Jews, except by using the term “soul.” Clarinetist Andy Statman and his neo-klezmorim deliver a great deal of Jewish soul, staying true to ancient traditions while updating melodies via the improvisational nature of jazz.

The quartet features pianist Kenny Werner, drummer Bob Weiner and bassist Harvie Swartz (Scott Lee on one track); Statman is joined by guests Bela Fleck on banjo and David Grisman on mandolin. The CD book explains the significance of the three types of music on the nine tracks, an eclectic blend of folklike simplicity with complex jazz overtones. The moods range from joyously vibrant to darkly plaintive. A fascinating and moving mixture.