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Abe Schwartz
National Hora (Volume Two)
Global Village Music (

Abe Schwartz was an early mainstay of the American klezmer scene, leading various brass bands of five to nine members. In true klezmer tradition there are no vocals. Instrumentation includes flute, piccolo, wildly chirping clarinet (possibly the peerless Naftule Brandwein or Shlomke Beckerman) and trumpet sharing most of the leads with baritone and bass horns supplying harmonic lines and occasionally joined by diverse percussion effects. He recorded a lot of stuff, so there may be a couple more volumes to come in this series.

National Hora contains some rare recordings from 1918-20, so New World influences, while present, are not in-your-face on most pieces. Alas, in this day of software that can clean audio problems like hiss, the CD's sound quality is poor. And the notes are skimpy. But the music is great.

If you like the old klezmer sound, with archaic arrangements, now sufficiently burnished by time to sound cool, you will enjoy this collection. On one especially interesting cut (already available on earlier reissues) Schwartz plays a violin solo using the Turkish tsifte telle technique, where the two highest strings are tuned to unison. The four violin solos sound like they stepped right out of the Old Country.

The mix of pieces is typical, mostly medium tempo freylakhs, with some walking tunes and a few Rumanian style horas. - Stacy Phillips

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