Thursday, August 22, 2013

In Review: Siach Hasadeh

Off the (virtual) review stack...

Yoni Kaston and Joel Kerr's new album, Siach Hasadeh -- Song of the Grasses, features their moving arrangements of old Chasidic nigunim which they perform on clarinet  and bass, often in conjunction with oud, harmonica, or string quartet.

A friend, thinking I'd enjoy this project, had sent me a link to the band's music page, just before Yoni emailed a review link. He was right. I found this recording interesting both in terms of song selection as well as musical approach.

This is rich, introspective music, beautifully arranged and performed. The melodies are largely Breslover nigunim, including both well-known and lesser-known melodies. There is one nigun each from Karlin, Lubavitch, Modzitz, Radishitz, and Tolne, as well as one Sephardic tune, "Agadelcha."

The liner notes include a little bit of background information about the source for each song, which is always nice.

Kaston's sensitive clarinet playing is soulful and tasteful, and the musicianship on the album is excellent. The musicians all communicate nicely throughout,maintaining the spiritual focus of the melodies while at the same time adding their own personal expression. The tracks feature various configurations of the musicians, which makes for nice timbral shifts from track to track. 

Fave tracks include "Niggun Firn Di Tsadikkim In Gan Eyden", which features Jason Rosenblatt's soulful harmonica upfront and some tasteful improvisation mid-way through, Kaston and Kerr's duo version of "Tfilas Tal", and "Tolner Niggun" on which Ismael Fencioglu's oud joins the duo. I transcribed that one to play with the band at the wedding of a member of the Tolner Rebbe's family last week.

"Siach Hasadeh - Song of the Grasses" is a very worthwhile album. Definitely check this one out.

The band's website is here. 

 Amazon has the album here: