The German label Oriente Musik offers a wide variety of music from around the world, all with a common thread of quality. They say, "Being both realistic and optimistic, we are inclined to issue only music that hits our hearts and therefore we strongly believe to hit the hearts of many others."
I am pleased to carry a select group of titles, and expect to add more in the coming year.
Yiddpop - Fayvish
The Berlin based band brings together what they believe has been separated for a too long time: songwriting, punkpop, jazz and Yiddish music. Steffen Illner (double bass), Philipp Bernhardt (drums), and Fabian Schnedler (guitar/voice/songwriting) with Alan Bern (accordion, melodica, keyboards) and Paul Brody (trumpet) as guest musicians blend these ingredients with utter coolness. The lyrics by modern and contemporary Yiddish poets (e.g. Peretz Markish, Itzik Manger, Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman, Morris Rosenfeld or Peretz Miranksy) risk a sly look at today's bitters of life. Alan Bern says: "The band grooves like mad, but so relaxed and with so much space, you could drive a train through it. The chords, melodies, riffs and hooks are all freshly twisted out of something you feel like you must have heard before, but you haven't. This is the most individual, natural, flowing, and deeply connected take on Yiddish language and song I've heard in a long, long time."
Gypsy Killer - Sanda Weigl
Bucharest, Berlin, New York: The life of Sanda Weigl is a mirror of recent European history. In her native Rumania, she was a child star singing gipsy songs on national TV. A relative of Helene Weigel, Brecht's widow, she fled to Eastern Berlin with her parents in 1961. As a member of the rock band Team 4 she made it to the GDR charts. When she protested against USSR's invasion of Prague, she was banned from performing in public and later deported to Western Berlin. There she started a career in theatre which led her to work with Luc Bondy, Jürgen Flimm, Peter Zadek and Robert Wilson. Meanwhile Weigl lives in New York and got back to the music that characterized her youth and kept her alive in GDR prison: the passionate songs of the Roma and Sinti Gypsies that came over in the interpretation of the gifted Romanian singer Maria Tanase. Listen
Negau: Songs from Asia - Anna Saeki
The Japanese artist has made a name for herself as a singer of tango
an unusual occupation for an Asian woman, to be sure. On her new recording, she takes it full circle, with a group of tango and jazz musicians helping her reinterpret the music of Southeast Asia, Korea, Japan and more, recorded in New York and Berlin.
Traktorist: Carpathian Klezmer - Di Naye Kapelye
Di Naye Kapelye goes 50ies-socialism? After a lot of hunting the indefatigable fieldworker Bob Cohen researched a socialist build-up song in yiddish - the scrumptious "Traktorist", praising not only the tractor itself and the five-year plan performance, but also, if not to say mainly, the bigger chances of a tractor driver to hit on the girls. Again, Di Naye Kapelye reaffirms their outstanding role regarding Jewish music from the Carpathian Basin - authentic, rough and tender, danceable and soaked with a deep and true love for the heritage that's treasured by these passioned musicians ever since we can remember.
Tango clásico y moderno - Anna Saeki
I was dubious, too. A Japanese tango singer.. surely a gimmick. But her 20 years of singing experience, and her wise selection of orchestras and small ensembles make these recordings a nice little addition ot a complete tango collection, an acknowledgement of the international influence that Argentine music has had. To be sure, she sings these classica nd modern songs like no one else, and there is a distinctive sound to it all, and perhaps that is why I was most attracted to it.
Seventh Trip - Kroke
Kroke didn't get lost in the dark grounds of a midlife crisis, and this seventh album is more than an itch of desire. Their music has developed from what is regarded as traditional klezmer but their music is definately forward-looking, perhaps even a little avant garde.
A Podolian Affair - Konsonans Retro
In the southeast of Podolia, just a few minutes from the Moldavian border, you'll find the home of the Baranovskys family. In this region Ukrainians played with Moldovans, with Jews, with Gypsies and Russians, sharing their music and making something new. The musicisn of this extended family offer a fresh look at the unique traditions of their home, music that is steeped in the sounds of klezmer but also, so much more.
Spiewam zycie I sing life - Edyta Geppert and Kroke
The well-known Polish klezmer innovators join with one of Poland's finest singers of folk and chanson for a special release of music that avoids being penned in by categories like world music, folk or chanson. The distinctive instrumental style of Kroke, based on their Jewish and East European roots, joins perfectly the expressive voice of Edyta and the ambitious lyrics of the Polish songs.
Dus Gezang fun mayn harts - Karsten Troyke
Singer and indefatigable promoter of Yiddish language and culture in his home town Berlin, Karsten Troyke does not care so much about where the tango originally comes from. His distinctive style refers to the Jewish theatre and cabaret song of the Twenties and early Thirties just as to the renaissance of the Yiddish 'Schlager' ofn the Fifties, and after all his art has that brightness you will not find while searching it. He is accompanied by Trio SCHO (Gennadi Dessiatnik, violin, backing vocals; Valeri Khoryshman, accordion; Michael Jach, double bass and guest musician Jan Hermerschmidt on clarinet.
Ziara: Sephardic Women's Songs of the Balkans - Ruth Yaakov Ensemble
Yaakov collects and interpretes the songs of the Sephardim,the Hispano-Jewish refugees that settled mainly in the Ottoman Empire around the Mediterranean Sea and the Balkans. The singer is backed by a wonderful ensemble of clarinet, penny whistle, ud, yayli tanbur, baglama, double bass and percussion.
Quartet - Live - Kroke
The two Kroke concerts at Radio Kraków Studio on October 9th and 10th, 2003 were something special. They were concerts of a group that after years of intensive touring all over Europe felt obliged to thank their friends in their home town for their long-time support. And there were so many friends to thank that it turned out to be two concerts.
Magic Bird - The Early Years - Maria Tanase
Recordings made by the Romanian singer between 1936 and 1939, most in Bucharest, accompanied by various ensembles of violins, bass, cimbalom, cobza, accordion, clarinet, etc.
Tangolar: The Bel Ami of Turkish Tango - Ibrahim Ozgur
In the late 20s and 30s tango was very popular in Turkey. For many composers and singers it was the first contact they had with "western" music. Turkish musicians and singer Ibrahim Özgür wrote many tango songs and had an evident talent for nostalgia. His velvety voice was predestined for romantic tangos. The songs on this CD were recorded in Istanbul between 1938 and 1949.
Solo Para O Sol - Cathrin Pfeifer
One of the best piano accordionist on the German folk and world music scene, a former memeber of the legendary band Jams, this 1998 CD finds her as part of a quartet with Topo Gioia, percussion; Thommy Jordi, fender bass; Horst Nonnenmacher, acoustic bass.
Echoes from Afar - Old World Tangos Vol.1 - various
A look at how the tango affected the world's music in a series of early performances from Rumania (Jean Moscopol, Titi Botez); Turkey (Seyyan Hanim, Ibrahim Özgür); Russia (Pjotr Leschenko); Greece (Sofia Vembo); Egypt (Farid El Atrache) and Algeria (Lili Boniche).