Shtreiml - Fenci's Blues
artist release (www.shtreiml.com)
The Fenci in the title refers to virtuoso oud player and vocalist Ismail Hakki Fencioglu. The title track is a blues of a sort, albeit in 7/8 and consisting of sixteen bars instead of the customary twelve. It's a strong start to a generally strong collection of klezmer/gypsy/jazz/blues music by this talented Montreal quintet.
The band draws on traditional Turkish and Hassidic music for much of its sound. The originals respect the spirit of the traditional pieces, all the while looking forward into the twenty-first century. On "Bu Duzen" Fencioglu imparts a flamenco-like sound on oud. "Semalardan Gunes Hala Inmiyor" is a lovely song composed by Syrian Jew Udi Ibrahim Efendi, who died in 1933. The oud lifts the vocal line like a gentle updraft. The traditional Turkish melody "Nihavend Longa" allows Rosenblatt, Fencioglu, and Lemisch each to soar in "top this" solos.
The only weak spots are "Beyoglunda Gezersin" and "Shabbat Hayom L'Hashem." The former, a traditional Turkish song, mixes some decidedly out of place bluegrass references. The result is a train wreck of an arrangement that doesn't know what it wants to be. The latter is a smarmy "smooth jazz" (not to be confused with actual jazz) arrangement of a traditional Shabbat song. But the rest of the album is so compelling that these little slip-ups are minor anomalies. - Peggy Latkovich
CD available from cdRoots
See also our review of Shtreiml's Spicy Paprikash
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