New Orleans Klezmer Allstars
Fresh Out The Past
Shanachie (

This is impressionistic, full-throttle klezmer whose Crescent City second-line strut, jazz and R&B leanings, and sundry Afro-Cuban, Spanish, Moroccan, Sephardic, Turkish and Balkan good-time postmodern influences, real and imagined, infuse an irreverent blend of original compositions in the klezmer vein. A tight ensemble with good-time party roots and an eclectic palate, the Allstars combine clarinet, saxes, accordion, piano, organ, guitar, bass and drums. Accordionist and keyboardist Glenn Hartman wrote three numbers, including "Coney Island Whitefish" (with a melodic nod to Mongo Santamaria's "Afro-Blue") and the frenetic, gargling Three Stooges invocation, "Not Too Eggy." Guitarist Jonathan Freilich contributes five pieces, among them "Struttin' with Some Doner Kebab" (a la Louis Armstrong's "Struttin' with Some Barbecue"), "The Unholy Chazir," a reedy modal drone, and "The Moroccan Roller" (with a perfectly unlikely Chuck Berry twang). Clarinetist and alto saxist Robert Wagner penned four tunes, including "Aging Raver's Personal Hell" (Sun Ra adrift on the Dead Sea, perhaps?) and the haunting, hand-percussive, vallenato-tinged "Hartman Pick Up Your Accordion and Play." As Wagner observes, "I found in klezmer a rare opportunity to play challenging improvisational music that people actually liked." And so it is. - Michael Stone