This year, one gift the Engineering Geek and I gave to each other is a pair of donor tickets to the Eight Nights of Joy CD release party here in Albuquerque.
We were looking forward to seeing The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band from Chicago, with whom Rabbi Joe Black made this CD. Although we thought the concert was too much of "the Joe Show," and the first set was extremely pediatric, we were very excited to see such a famous Klezmer band up close and personal right here in Albuquerque. Our donor tickets afforded us a reception (complete with latkes) with the band prior to the show, and reserved seats for the show, as well as the satisfaction of making a donation to the synagogue general fund.
Klezmer music is Jewish "Soul," brought over by the European Jewish immigrants in the early part of the last century. The word "Klezmer" comes from the Hebrew: K'lei zamir -- literally, 'instruments of song.' The music is an incredible testament to the musical talents of European Jews, of which the Fiddler on the Roof music is just an appetizer.
Here is Chicago Does Klezmer!, a short montage of some of The Maxwell Street Klezmer's work.
The music during the film montage is from "The Lark."
The second bit is from Ocho Candelikas, a Ladino (Spanish-Jewish) Hannukah song.
The third is part of a performance of the "Teichel (Handkerchief) Dance, a traditional dance in which a handkerchief must be used for a man and woman to dance together.
Fourth comes the Benny Goodman piece, And the Angels Sing, with a Klezmer surprise in the middle.
Last is a bit of Litvaker vs. Galitzianer (Lithuanian v. Poland), a great rivalry in the Ashkenazi Jewish world of pre-Shoah Europe.
Although we did not hear enough of Maxwell Street, what we heard was wonderful enough to make our evening. Imagine being in the second row for this music! Our hands were together, our toes were tapping, and there were moments where it was all we could do not to get up and begin a hora.
At the end, we were all on feet shouting "More Klezmer! More Klezmer!"
We were treated to two encores, the last of which was a "Compote" of classical, klezmer, and holiday tunes. This is traditional to klezmer as well.
At our wedding, we were fortunate to have The New Shtetl Band for both the ceremony and the celebration. They are another well-known Klezmer revival group, from right here in Albuquerque. For a sense of what our dance was like, take a look at the Wedding Workshop video from the Maxwell Street website.
Ah, but we had a good time last night! It was a welcome respite from the stresses and concerns of this season and this year of uncertainty. And the wild, joyous, humorous and plaintive Klezmer music took us out of it all, as good music is supposed to do.