Stewart Curtis - Smoked Salmon Salsa (Music CD)

Release Date: 19 September 2011
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Stewart Curtis' K-Groove and the producers at 33Jazz apparently wanted to make an album of klezmer music. Nothing wrong with that except perhaps a concern about the limited audience a straight klezmer CD would attract. Perhaps that is why they felt a need to fuse klezmer with rock and other contemporary musical rhythms to broaden its appeal. The result is predictable -- this album may not appeal to fans of either genre. Most of the items on the play list are established Yiddish melodies, "specially" arranged by Curtis who gives them a modern flavor. Add one Greek and one Arabic melody along with a couple of Curtis originals and you have a pretty balanced program. But it's in the arranging that the program's promise fails to materialize. "Sunrise Sunstroke" starts off with the traditional klezmer sound, but Curtis and group muddle things up with periodic insertions of backbeats and electronically created intrusions by the keyboards (including an organ sound!) accompanied by a whining soprano sax. Paul Jayasinha's trumpet strives mightily to sustain the tradition, despite these extraneous incursions. This version is a far cry from the 1973 rendition by the wonderful Greek singer, Nana Mouskouri. "Mo's Hacksaw," a hymn sung to celebrate the Yiddish festival of Chanukah, is performed with a predictability that comes with rock and is hardly recognizable. On the credit side, "Sketches of Chrane," a traditional song by Jewish husbands to their wives on the eve of the Sabbath, comes close to Yiddish/klezmer music as listeners know it, with Curtis' flute leading the way. Strangely, the traditional instrument of klezmer, the wailing clarinet, is rarely heard. While prominent on "A Pint of Cherry Brandy and a Packet of Crisps Please" and, appropriately, "Klap Hands Here Comes Klezmer," it's absent for most of the program. The kindest comment one can make about this CD is that the results are mixed and the album will appeal to those turned on by fusion klezmer. ~ Dave Nathan
Release Date: 19 September 2011

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Catalogue No: 33JAZZ212