Brave Old World is probably the most exciting band doing “new Jewish music” anywhere. They all have roots in klezmer and Yiddish folk music going back before the beginning of the klezmer revival – Stu Brotman, the bass player (also the main tsimbl player), was playing middle eastern and eastern european sounds in Kaleidoscope with David Lindley even back in the Sixties, Their new album, “Bless this fire”, their 4th, is the best yet.
One reason that I rave isn’t just that this is great music. I think that, now that “klezmer” is sort of an establishment thing where every synagogue has a band and, other than the Klezmatics, who cares, but this is the very exciting music, very rooted in Jewish traditions – it’s something special to Jewish culture that (while it may be hard to be farther from Jewish religion – that’s a whole ‘nother talk) isn’t klezmer. It’s deeper than most albums. The band’s playing is insanely good. They set the standard to the point that I’m convinced that Itzhak Perlman is the Kurt Bjorling (the band’s clarinet virtuoso) of violin. And I think that Michael Alpert’s words and singing give voice to this particular time and place in ways that I haven’t heard otherwise. (Well, except for, say, Josh Waletzky’s work, or Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss, and certainly the many wonderful Klezmatics projects – but that’s a short list, and all of those are still different from this.)
There is more to modern American Jewish identity that arguing about Israel or going neo-Chasidic Friday night at Benny J’s. Check it out at CDBaby.com. This close to the edge doesn’t come to Tower Records. You’ve got to find it elsewhere.