Vinticinqueaprile: Live in Fossoli
The Italian band KlezRoym must be recognized as one of the top Jewish music ensembles in the world. This live CD captures them at Fossoli, near Modena, at a commemorative concert for the 60th Anniversary of the Liberation from Nazi-Fascism. Fossoli served the Nazis as a concentration camp, through which thousands of Jews and political opponents of Nazism would be deported on their way to the German and Polish camps. Primo Levi was one of those individuals kept at Fossoli, before being sent to Auschwitz.
KlezRoym's concert performance here reflects the gravitas of the locale, as the band journeys through their extensive repertoire. The group does not really launch into the kind of exuberant klezmer that one might expect; rather, there is something of a chamber-jazz elegance about their approach that would not be out-of-place on the European art-jazz label ECM. Even so, I hate to utilize the adjective 'sparing' to describe the arrangements of songs such as "Ershter Vals," which sweeps along as if following a painter's brush. This is the approach that KlezRoym utilizes so well: the brass instruments swell with emotion (as on the short "Cerimonia nuziale"), and each silence and blast speaks volumes. Further, one of the most beautiful aspects of KlezRoym's music is the voice of Eva Coen, which seems to swallow and encapsulate the whole of KlezRoym's endeavors. Coen is inside these songs, as is Riccardo Manzi, whose voice acts as the perfect counterpart to Eva Coen's. Manzi's turn on "Papir Is Doch Weiss" shows how his own sweet voice can be tinged with just the right kind of roughness, veering into sadness.
KlezRoym do quicken the pace of the concert, as on the swinging "Yankele nel ghetto" which serves as a prelude here to the truly wild "Danza immobile," where Eva Coen's voice and Andrea Pandolfo's trumpet follow each other around before Coen drops away, wordlessly vocalizing as the band sensuously stretches themselves out. The tune "Oi Tate" is also more aggressive, while "New York Sirba" evinces more of the careful KlezRoym arranging, building to its ecstatic climax. The Fossoli concert ends with the Italian partisan song "Bella ciao," where KlezRoym are joined by the horns of la Filarmonica della Citta di Carpi and an enthusiastic audience clapping in time; a clear statement of the continued resistance to the madness of fascism. KlezRoym have produced a wonderful documentation of their career thus far, but by any estimation this is an essential live recording of an important band at the height of their powers. - Lee Blackstone
Listen to "Ershter Vals"
CD available from cdRoots