CD REVIEW: Minimal Klezmer - Oy Oioi


Minimal Klezmer - Oy Oioi
(Janus Sounds JSL005, download only. Review by Andy Boeckstaens)

Minimal Klezmer are getting bigger. Although it’s unlikely that they will ever play Wembley Stadium, the band has recently had an enthusiastic reception in Italy and the UK, and are gearing up to tour Germany next month.

On their second recording, Oy Oioi, the sound is expanding, too. The trio of Roberto Durante, Francesco Socal and Martin Teshome is enhanced by three guests on a few tracks, and the inclusion of piano provides a new harmonic depth.

There are dances and dirges, ecstacy and agony, and a healthy degree of improvisation. You’re never quite sure whether the original arrangements of (mainly) traditional music are serious or tongue-in-cheek, and you never know what will happen next.

Durante’s piano-led crescendo on the opening title track is broken by the jaunty rhythm of Socal’s clarinet and Teshome’s ‘cello, then the vocal refrain kicks in (yes, the lyrics are “Oy Oioi”, repeated quickly many times). With the addition of Pietro Pontini on violin and the ear-catching drumming of Jimmy Weinstein, a good instrumental head of steam is built up, but the music eventually collapses into a heap of melodica, bells and a squeak.

The bigger group – this time with Alex Turchet on double bass - is also featured on Grichisher Tanz. Despite its moniker and eastern European melody, it has an unexpected Latin lilt and is the most “jazzy” piece on the album. Turchet also interacts well with Teshome on the track Fun Tashlakh + Hora Batrineasca. Doina is a short but powerful duet for tremulous ‘cello and muffled piano.

The core trio is heard on the bulk of the album. A soaring and “laughing” clarinet distinguishes the moody Haneros Halallu. The Yiddish song Bei Mir (Bistu Shein) is led by Socal’s passionate vocals, and its processed crackle and distant quality make it sound as if it were being reproduced on 1930s shellac.

The Minimal Klezmer style is typified by the dance of Aidiniko and the stately Rumenishe Fantaziye, which contains the beat of a tuned jerrycan and a tinkling glockenspiel. Epitaph has a skilfully-played kazoo and a bit of clattering. After half a minute of silence, the gentle “hidden track” A Rumenishe Nign concludes the set, and it’s greatly affecting.

Oy Oioi is a roller-coaster ride of furious energy, pathos and non-stop entertainment.

LINK: Review of Minimal Klezmer's 2013 debut album.

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