Reviews

General Instructions

BOOK REVIEW

HENRY SAPOZNIK: Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World. Schirmer Trade Books, 1999. Available at www.msc-catalog.com/opsearch.htm.

In this fascinating book, Sapoznik--a world-renowned authority on the subject who is also a preeminent klezmer performer--traces the history of klezmer in the United States during the twentieth century. I found the first two chapters, which describe the European roots of klezmer and its early transition to America, a little disjointed and difficult to read. But then the book takes off on a well-constructed chronology of klezmer in America. Starting about chapter 6, it turns somewhat autobiographical, since this is synonymous with the development of klezmer in America.

There are interesting parallels between the history of klezmer and that of American folk music. Early in the 20th century, both were played by originators (people who learned the genre from their parents or other relatives), and the music was popular in the community. As the music became less popular and the originators began to die off, both genres declined. But both enjoyed later revivals; the klezmer revival began in 1985 with the first Klezcamp. Finally, both went into a "fusion phase" where their definitions were broadened to include other styles. Sapoznik describes this phase in a chapter entitled "The Emperor's New Klez." And for music theorists, there's even an appendix explaining the modes and scales used in klezmer.

--Jerry Praver

CD REVIEWS

TIM RADFORD: Home From Home. Fallen Angle Music FAM 08. Available from Ian Robb, 285 Spencer Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K1Y 2R1 Canada; www.ianrobb.com.

Tim Radford may not yet be a household name for lovers of traditional English song, but with the release of this, his first recording, that may change in one big hurry. A native of Hampshire, England, Radford came to the US in 1996 and now lives in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He is deeply interested in and involved with both English ritual drama and Morris dancing, and he has cultivated quite an extensive repertoire of traditional songs from his home turf of Hampshire and Dorset.

The 17 songs on this delightful recording reflect his Hampshire heritage and most are traditional in nature. Radford has a deep love, feeling, and respect for the English folksong and its traditions--most especially the old and venerable story-songs and ballads presented a capella. Lovers and devotees of the Child ballad will find three excellent examples here: the mysterious "Three Ravens," the other-worldly "Rolling of the Stones," and the tragic tale of "George Collins." Other Radford musical renderings include a rollicking version of "John Barleycorn," the playfully erotic "Bird in the Bush," and "The Spotted Cow"; songs reflecting local characters and customs ("Washing Day," "Lymington Round and Round"), and songs reflecting the seasons and their constant passing ("New Year" and "Winter Man"). Radford is more than ably assisted by a crew of fine musicians and singers, including Ian Robb, John Roberts, Chris Leslie, James Stephens, Ann Downey, and Shelly Posen on a variety of instruments including both English and Anglo concertina, fiddle, mandolin, and piano. From the amatory fantasy "Maid of Australia" to songs reflecting Radford's love of singing and its positive interplay with good living and memorable friendships--"Come Come My Friends" and "Here is My Home"--this is a recording well worth more than just one or two listens.

--Robert Rodriquez

BONNIE LOCKHART, UNITY NGUYEN, AND BILLY WITZ: Growing With Music; Songs for Singing Families, Available from Bonnie at Bonnie Lockhart, 1032 Winsor Avenue, Oakland, CA 94610-1104. www.bonnielockhart.com.

Bonnie Lockhart has done it again, brilliantly! With fellow artists Unity Nguyen and Billy Witz, this recording of sweetly matched voices singing traditional, familiar, and new children's songs in multiple languages, positively radiates joy. The album's instrumentation is interesting and international, and its sound is clear and bright. Somehow even such a standard song as "This Little Light of Mine" has a new flavor. There's enough rhythmic variation for any heterogeneous community. Several songs are presented in a call-and-response form, including a wordless song, "Bop Bop," made of repeated noises that children will find they can repeat, too.

Especially appropriate for children aged about 3 to 6, the songs are good for group settings or homes. They include Patty Zeitlin's lovely counting song "One Little Bird," a song about loneliness and friendship. Another counting song is about how Sally works with hammers (a change from the gendered original). Some are in Spanish, some in English, and one each in Chinese, Ga, and Vietnamese. Bonnie's hit song "My Friend the Drum" is included, and Witz has a song called "Drop, Duck and Cover" which tells what to do in emergencies.

--Sydney Gurewitz Clemens

VARIOUS ARTISTS: A Tribute to Faith Petric. Available from www.sffmc.org.

As part of the very special and joyous celebration of Faith Petric's 90th birthday last September, this CD put together by Laurie Story Vela and friends, to honor and thank Faith for all her wonderful years of making music, was released. Utah Philips once remarked that Faith Petric does not make up songs; she harvests them--and she has harvested countless songs for decades.

Contributors to this CD included Van Rozay, Carol Holdstock, Marilyn Robinson, Magpie, Nancy Schimmel, Estelle Freedman, and Bob Reid. Each said "happy birthday" through song or spoken word (Ed Bronstein's very special "Angel Band Poem"), and each contribution to this musical Love letter adds to the celebratory mosaic. My personal favorites include Ailene Vance's "Faith's Birthday Round", Susan Lukas's "Neighbors," Laurie Vela's "Faith's Garden," and Estelle Freedman's live performance of "She Was There." Mindful of the old Turkish proverb, "the only thing better than finding a treasure is to share it with others," we thank you, Faith, for the countless musical seeds you have sown that have blossomed out into bounteous harvests for all the years you have been singing.

--Robert Rodriquez