New Reviews: August 4, 1998

Tzimmes is usually served spicy -- especially if you are talking about this Jewish music ensemble from Vancouver, Canada. Tzimmes (whose name literally means a vegetable stew, but also has the connotation of being a little bit of everything) performes Klezmer, Sephardic, and Contemporary Jewish music in English, Yiddish, Hebrew and Ladino. KlezMyriad is the band's third release in five years, and represents the fact that the members are from diverse backgrounds and cultures -- it really is a "Myriad" of Jewish music. For example, there is a very original interpretation of "Maoz Tsur," a hymn sung at Chanukah (known to the world at large as "Rock of Ages"), and the Yiddish humor of "The Shlump" (a "shlump" being someone who cannot grasp the concept of matching socks). Unusual instrumentation and striking vocals underlie all of the songs here. Tzimmes is already very well known in Canada, having appeared on several high-profile television and radio programs. Hopefully KlezMyriad will be the release that takes them to an international audience.

Joel Rubin is best known to the world of Jewish music as one of the premier virtuoso clarinet players of his generation. He is also an ethnomusicologist, and along with his partner Rita Ottens, has compiled some of the most comprehensive historical anthologies of Klezmer, such as the critically-acclaimed Yihkes. Hungry Hearts is subtitled "Classic Yiddish Clarinet Solos of the 1920's," a description which pretty well sums it up. One of the first examples of Rubin's recorded work, Hungry Hearts was originally released on cassette in the 1980's under the title Brave Old World. Now that it has been re-released, all of Rubin's work is now available on CD. Needless to say, Hungry Hearts contains some of the most famous clarinet solos of the early 1900's, but all sound fresh and exciting thanks to Rubin's delicate treatment. This album is a must for serious Klezmer fans and fans of Rubin alike.