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Beyond the Pale - Postcards


Beyond the Pale

Borealis Records - BCD197

Available from Borealis Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

It will come as no surprise to connoisseurs of bluegrass that one of the world's great musics, klezmer, is perfectly compatible with the American modality. I mean, the two share pretty much the same instruments, put demands on high technical perfection and prowess, love complicated tempo structures, and cleave closely to pastorality…albeit a country life of exceeding vigor. More than a few world musics share these traits that floated through India, Europe, Russia, Ireland, and other lands with sometimes surprisingly similar refrains.

Therefore, Beyond the Pale's Postcards is going to appeal to lovers of hot jazz, World, Carnatic, bluegress, gypsy, and so on, and perhaps twice as much to those of us how hold an inordinate love of the clarinet, which is ever a main voice in klezmer, thank Yahweh. Here, that means Martin van de Ven, who scurries through his paces with Benny Goodmanesque ease (listen to Goodman's Yale recordings and see just what that can mean). The rest of the group, however, measures him every inch, whirling and dancing on their own, each an adept of highest skill.

The real concentration is on each song as a whole, not on pyrotechnics as such, but the mode is so drenched with stratospheric chops that just playing this music demands viruosity, and thus everyone's lines are complex, interlocking, and synergistic. I suppose one could say that makes them traditionalists, but only a small selection are actually standards, and the modernisms subtly employed keep everything fresh and brisk. Back to the Beginning, for instance, has quite a decent Ponty-esque injection, and even the largo'ed mid-section steps from Romanticism into Morricone's wont, a kind of preparation for the following cut, Meditation, and it's Hassidic reverences.

Each cut here is a showcase of classically fused means bridging a number of cultures, a few feature the sultry Vira Lozinsky on vocals, and, as with so many of these Canadian marvels, the Canada Council for the Arts, which has a long history, helped put everything before our ears. Such a conflation of high intent can only be a doron for the people of the world, so 'mazel tov!' and get ready to have your blood braced by some truly superb playing and composing.

Track List:

  • Magura (traditional)
  • Solution (Alexander Gajic)
  • Katarina (Alexander Gajic)
  • Kamenetzer (traditional)
  • Anthem (traditional)
  • Shtern (traditional / lyrics by Felsenbaum)
  • Turkish Delight (Irving Fields)
  • Back to the Beginning (Alexander Gajic)
  • Meditation (A. Soltes)
  • Split Decision (Eric Stein)
  • Postcript (Eric Stein)
  • An Old Legend (traditional)
  • Are Two (Martin van de Ven)
  • Dutchmandu (Martin van de Ven)
  • Doina (Zelig Bardechever)
  • Extra Spicy (Alexander Gajic)

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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