Thursday, April 21, 2005

More Vulgar Than Bulgar

Alexander Gelfand has a well-written critique in this week's Forward of Rueben Hoch's Chassidic Jazz Project.

Some 'graphs:
In a piece that he wrote for Chamber Music America, Hoch cast doubt on the ability of klez-jazz fusioneers who lacked the Orthodox upbringing needed to "accurately portray the music of the Jewish people."

"They had not lived the life that I did," he wrote. "They did not have the religious background. It was what they did, not who they were."

And here's where things get sticky. For one thing, religiosity is no guarantee of musical authenticity. More to the point, Hoch's Chassidic Jazz Project provides as superficial a gloss on the nexus between jazz and Jewish music as you're likely to find. And it's far less sophisticated than the work produced by many of the klez-jazz types whom Hoch so casually dismisses as poseurs.
Ouch! Incidentally, this post takes its title from a sentence in the article, but although the words are spelled similarly, they don't really rhyme. (Bulgar is pronounced with the emphasis on the "gar".)