Paul Brody: Beyond Babylon

Paul Brody’s Beyond Babylon (Tzadik), the follow-up to 2002’s Kabbalah Dream, features the same sparse and effective lineup known as Sadawi: the leader on trumpet, Jan Hermerschmidt on clarinets, Brandon Seabrook on banjo and guitar, Martin Lillich on bass and Eric Rosenthal on drums. Based in Berlin, Brody has an alt-klezmer worldview not unlike Frank London’s or David Krakauer’s, so it’s not surprising to find smart adaptations of London’s “Golem Khosidl” and Krakauer’s “Klezmer a la Bechet” on this album. Ben Goldberg’s “Masks and Faces,” done in a snaky 5/4, features Alan Bern on accordion. “A Fragment of Kafka’s Friend,” loosely based on a piece by Naftule’s Dream, showcases the group at its most abstract. The remaining originals are animated by a Krakauer-esque melding of shtetl music, hard rock and electro-tweaking. Some of the writing is too kitschy, but the banjo is a fun and unusual touch.