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Various Artists
Klezmer Festival 1998: Live at the Knitting Factory
Knitting Factory Works

As part of the flourishing Jewish Alternative Movement, the reworkings of klezmer, Hasidic, and other Eastern European–based music found on Klezmer Festival 1998: Live at the Knitting Factory could knock the yarmulke off any rabbi’s head. Recorded live at the legendary Knitting Factory jazz club in New York City last December, the sounds created by some of the finest players in the downtown avant-jazz scene are so diverse and intriguing that even gentiles can enjoy it. The trumpeter Frank London performs with Hasidic New Wave and Psychedelicatessen, two bands that perform liberal interpretations of traditional Jewish melodies as well as original compositions. “Aimless Path” from the sextet Naftuli’s Dream sounds like a bar-mitzvah band scoring the soundtrack to Alice in Wonderland. Klezmokum features Greek, Jewish, and Romanian folk music with vocals by Patricia Beysons. Gary Lucas closes the CD with a peppy, electric-guitar version of “Adir Hu/Rock of Ages Medley,” based on songs he recollects from his Hebrew-school days.

Originally published in the Orlando Weekly on August 19, 1999.