25 January 2006

Boisterous Boundary-Busting Brass (CD Review)

Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy

Klezmer at Carnival? If you're feeling like you missed the lecture on Jews in Rio, don't despair. While some Brazilian reference sneak in, this album is just another fine excuse for klezmer trumpeter London and his crazy gang to make some great party music. "The concept," London says, "is to party until you are beyond rationality, and then forced to stand on one leg and explain the meaning of existence and give a dvar Torah on the dialectic of social order and repression while being tickled. It's a drinking game. It has no meaning and is as serious as your life."

Fabulous singing, wailing, and yelping by Marjana Sadowska grace the boisterous opener "In Your Garden Twenty Fecund Fruit Trees." Other such whimsical song names adorn tunes mixing bits from the Balkans, Bavaria, ...heck, wherever brass bands are found. "Another Glass Of Wine To Give Succor to my Ailing Existence" involves something that sounds like a barking cuica, though no mention of the instrument is to be found in the credits. Backing artists include Maracatu New York (a Brazilian percussion ensemble) and Kol Isha (a collective of women who sing traditional mystical Hasidic music).

As if the music wasn't entertaining enough, London's liner notes add a touch of the surreal to the album.

Carnival has power to elicit cathartic laughter in even the most constipated. Not the "Heh-heh-heh we stole the election and made billions of dollars pillaging the environment and launching an illegal war" laughter so fashionable in these times; but true Ambivalent and Universal Laughter which does not deny Complexity but affirms it. Laughter that purifies from dogmatism; liberates from fascism and pedantry, from fear and intimidation, from didacticism, naiveté and illusion, from the single meaning, from sentimentality. Laughter which Restores the Almighty Ambivalent Wholeness of our Existence.
Esteemed reader, you have purchased the greatest recording of all time, a CD so powerful that it will cure you of all ailments from impotence to flatulence.

And so on... (read London's complete liner notes). London may be nuts, and the music hard to describe, but Carnival Conspiracy will have you up and dancing in your own private Carnival.

[buy CD]
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