Thursday, May 7, 2009

Two CDs Reviewed -- I Told You I Was Back

The pile of unheard recordings on my desk threatens to topple over the give me a subdural hematoma (did I spell that right, TV med show fans?). So the simple solution is to start whittling it down. Ergo . . . .

Klez Dispensers, The: “Say You’ll Understand” (self-distributed). This is a rather schizophrenic album, swinging between the kind of big-band klez-jazz swing of early KCB and the straight post-Ellis Island klezmer of the Yiddish radio era. Happily, this octet is adept at both styles. But it would be nice to see them try to find a musical space in which they could be integrated. They come close on “Gregg’s Hora,” an instrumental that swerves from the bumping rhythm of a doina into a graceful waltz, but most of the set’s 13 cuts fall into one of the two camps. An entertaining album, but I think they can do more. Rating: 4 stars. Available from

A.J. Teshin: “The Kurt Weill Project” (LML Music). A.J. Teshin has one of those gloriously pure high tenor voices that could break your heart singing “Pop Goes the Weasel.” It’s the voice that Michael Feinstein thinks he has. And when you apply that voice to the best Kurt Weill ballads the results are meltingly lovely. That’s the good news. The bad news is that Teshin felt he had to do something to modernize Weill for a contemporary audience and as the producer of the CD he went a little overboard, adding dance beats, sound effects and the occasional unnecessary aside. If you can mentally strip away all the added paraphernalia and just listen to Teshin sing, you’ll be rewarded by some very fine interpretations of Weill. For his next album, I’d like to hear him with a simple piano trio. Rating: 3 stars. To hear some of the album or to purchase it, go to

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