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Job by Naftule's Dream

There are many, many bands doing Klezmer these days - Klezmer, of course, being that maverick-by-default fusion-music that wedded/weds jazz and Hebraic/Yiddish folk music of Eastern European origin. There are as many variants of neo-Klezmer as there are "schools" of neo-Swing, neo-Rockabilly, ReBop, whatever - there’re bands and performers that put the accent on the jazz side (Don Byron, Burton Greene’s Klezmokum), that mix Old World roots with pointed New World politics (Klezmatics), even those who funk it up a bit (New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars). The Boston sextet Naftule’s Dream are in the avant/progressive wing of the Mod-Klez Zone - for the most part, you are unlikely to be able to play this album at most Passover Seders. While the traditional elements are there as a foundation, Naftule’s Dream take the music where no Jew or goy has gone before. Guitarist Pete Fitzpatrick plays in a burred/fuzzed manner that draws as much from Bill Frisell and Elliott Sharp as from the songs of forlorn twangmeister Chris Isaak, and Glenn Dickson’s clarinet often sounds like a soprano saxophone, with a bit of Steve Lacy and J. Coltrane and a lot of early 20th century classical influence. (Point of fact. they cover a couple of Erik Satie piece here.) ND’s sound is marked by spooky textures, sardonic waltzes a la Charles Mingus, ensemble interaction and economical, laconic soloing. The unique "cry" of Klezmer is still there, but the more ethnic and dance-oriented aspects of the music are played down - Naftule’s Dream’s approach is far more cerebral than most Mod-Klez groups I’ve heard, placing emphasis on intricately crafted jazz- and classically-oriented composition and arrangements, yet avoid coming off as dry, academic and/or unwieldy. The intriguingly provocative, aptly named Job is not a disc to put on to shed the blues or party-down to, but if you ever wondered what a Klezmer band helmed by Frank Zappa (in a somber mood), Mingus (in a sardonic/zany mood) or Carla Bley might sound like, wonder no more - take some time, hunker down & listen close.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Naftule's Dream
  • CD Title: Job
  • Genre: Fusion
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Tzadik
  • Musicians: Glenn Dickson: clarinet; Pete Fitzpatrick: electric guitar; David Harris: trombone; James Gray: tuba; Eric Rosenthal: drums; Michael McLaughlin: accordion.
  • Rating: Three Stars
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