Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour
Shoyn Avek Der Nekhtn
Reviewed by Jay Trachtenberg, Fri., Dec. 22, 2017
This nearly decade-old, 10-piece Austin ensemble of Jewish music traditionalists breathes new life and a modern sensibility into music that originated with Eastern European Jews and is generally known as klezmer. Without forfeiting the ecstatic joy or soulful poignancy of the source material, MTKH makes this generous 16-track collection and debut come alive with fresh yet respectful interpretations of traditional material that largely was initially recorded a century ago. While most tunes are instrumental, Belarusian vocalist Svetlana Saenger is a standout, singing in Yiddish, English, and Russian, sounding best on "Chaim" and "Di Mame iz Gegangen." The inclusion of genre classics "Papirosn" and "Tumbalalaika" make for familiar touchstones. Klezmer's been called music of resilience. Passion-filled Shoyn Avek Der Nekhtn demonstrates why.