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Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy

It is possible to pay tribute to the music of your ancestors while having a zany good time. That feeling permeates all corners of the third release by Frank London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars, where everything from the festive music to the song titles to London’s over-the-top liner notes present this traditional music with an air of 21st-century cunning.

London, whose trumpet has been heard with klezmer revivalists the Klezmatics and the improv group Hasidic New Wave, re-creates the celebratory mood of the carnival with a total of 30 musicians joining the core 10-piece unit at various points. Among them: German Goldenshtayn, an 80-year old Ukrainian clarinetist making his recording debut on “Our Ancestors Forty Thousand Years Wide,” and Kol Isha, a female vocal group named for a Hebrew injunction barring men from hearing women vocalists.

After Goldenshtayn’s haunting and beautiful spotlight, the group shifts into a low-end funk groove for “Out of What?” In the title track, a fast 2/2 rhythm (a familiar tempo throughout the album) suddenly cuts into a waltz and the mood of the tune changes from festive to somber. But song titles like “In Your Garden Twenty Fecund Fruit Trees” and “Oh Agony, You Are so Sweet Like Sugar I Must to Eat You Up” [sic] prove that adverse situations can be overcome when they’re matched by humor and levity.

Originally Published