February 19th, 2015
Three Women & The Truth
Check out the interview with Eliza Gilkyson
7:30pm LAURENCE JUBER
Dana Point Community House
949-842-2227 or 949-244-6656
Presented by Lord Of The Strings Concert Series
Torrance Cultural Arts Center James Armstrong Theatre
8:00pm JUDY COLLINS
8:00pm CHERYL WHEELER
8:00pm MICHAEL MCGINNIS AND FRIENDS
8:00pm LUCINDA WILLIAMS
Presented by Lobero Live
5:30pm - 8:30pm WESTCHESTER FIRST FRIDAYS first Friday
8:00pm - 10:00pm SEVERIN BROWNE AND FRIENDS first Friday
TITLE: LONG BEFORE LIGHT
ARTIST: THE ONLIES
RELEASE DATE: APRIL 4, 2015
Long Before Light is the third CD by the Onlies, a three-piece band from Seattle. Sami Braman, Riley Calcagno, and Leo Shannon are still juniors in high school, but have played together for years, so they are a solid band. Together, they have been to many fiddle camps including Valley of the Moon, Sierra Fiddle Camp, Fiddle tunes, Big Sur Fiddle Camp, and Mount Shasta Fiddle Camp and the influence of those camps shows. It is not uncommon to walk around these camps at any time of day or night and hear people jamming and that CD reflects the same laid-black groove that develops from playing in those jams.Read more: THE ONLIES: LONG BEFORE LIGHT
TITLE: TOMORROW IS MY TURN
ARTIST: RHIANNON GIDDENS
RELEASE DATE: 2015
In case you were wondering whether Rhiannon Giddens has one of the great singing voices of our time, her new solo CD will answer that question. If you had not been wondering, it means that you probably have not heard her sing. T-Bone Burnett, who produced this collection of eleven songs, places her in a musical geneology ranging through Marian Anderson, Odetta, Mahalia Jackson, and Rosetta Tharpe.Read more: RHIANNON GIDDENS: TOMORROW IS MY TURN
ARTIST: SABRINA & CRAIG
LABEL: LIONESS / BRONZE MEDAL MUSIC
RELEASE DATE: 2015
A work of passion and perfection, Sabrina & Craig’s second joint album, GREEN, wastes no time in sweeping you away with sweet melodies, dynamic rhythms, brilliant finger-style guitar, and the gorgeous harmonies that have become the duo’s trademark.
All eleven tracks are original –written by either Sabrina Schneppat or Craig Lincoln – and they flow easily together in a refreshing variety of styles ranging from folk to old-timey, from blues to ballads, from jazzy lounge numbers to toe-tapping Americana.Read more: SABRINA & CRAIG - GREEN
DYLAN DOES SINATRA HIS WAY
TITLE: SHADOWS IN THE NIGHT
ARTIST: BOB DYLAN
RELEASE DATE: FEBRUARY 3, 2015
LABEL: COLUMBIA RECORDS
The Fifties were anything but fabulous for Frank Sinatra; he was dropped by Columbia Records in 1952, his career in the doldrums. His personal life wasn’t any better. He was divorced by his wife Nancy and attempted suicide in despair due to his tumultuous relationship with his next wife, Ava Gardner. In 1955 he released In the Wee Small Hours, a new kind of concept album, and followed it with Where Are You in 1957, an even starker portrayal of a singer at the end of his rope. In 1958 he rounded out this trilogy of unfulfilled romantic longing with Sinatra Sings for Only the Lonely, his third album for Capitol Records. At the edge of the abyss, in retrospect they represent Sinatra at his introspective best, before he got caught up in the Chairman-of-the-Board bravado of New York, New York and My Way.Read more: DYLAN DOES SINATRA HIS WAY
Anyone for Yiddish Tango?
Put the two words “Yiddish” and “tango” together, and some might respond, “You’re joking?” But history bears out a strong connection between the two. These will be evident in the upcoming performance of Yiddish Tango Club at the Skirball Cultural Center on Thursday evening, August 21. Having investigated Vietnamese tango in my June column, this gives me yet another opportunity to dig for treasures in music history.
But first here’s the scoop on the show. Virtuoso klezmer clarinetist Gustavo Bulgach, who launched the Yiddish Tango Club project in 2012, will lead his ensemble in accompanying tangos with lyrics written in Yiddish as well as Argentine tango instrumentals from the early days of the genre and the innovative tangos of Astor Piazzolla. They also will be performing pieces from the klezmer repertoire, freilachs (happy, fast-paced numbers) and nigunim (improvised vocal numbers with roots in religious and particularly Hasidic texts and music). Along with the Bulgach on clarinet and saxophone, the multi-ethnic ensemble includes Andrew Markham on piano, Ken Rosser on guitar, Hiroo Nakano on drums, Hector Pineda on bass and Mariano Dugatkin on accordion and that tango signature instrument, the bandoneón.
Interpreting the lyrics will be guest artist Divina Gloria, who, as her stage name suggests, is larger than life; I recall her vibrant vocals in a Yiddish tango-themed concert at Disney Hall’s Redcat Theater several years ago. Born Martha Gloria Goldsztern, the Argentine vocalist is equally mesmerizing interpreting traditional Yiddish songs, tangos in Spanish and Yiddish, and jazz and pop material. Her background includes numerous appearances as a dramatic actress on stage, screen, and television in Argentina since the mid-seventies. Together, Divina Gloria and Gustavo Bulgach are sure to ignite the Skirball stage. The outdoor setting will allow room for spontaneous dancing by audience members.
Now to history. The roots of Yiddish tango extend from Argentina to Western and Eastern European centers, and New York. Researcher Lloica Czackis traces its path in articles published in the Jewish Quarterly (2004) and European Judaism (2009). In her opening to the former article, she comments that tango music and Jewish folk music share the prominence of the violin as well as an indefinable sense of yearning. The Argentine tango, born in the brothels of Buenos Aires in the first decade of the 20th century, emerged at a time when the Jewish population of Argentina was beginning to swell. The East European Jews fleeing the brutal Russian pogroms of the 1880s initially resettled in North America but before the end of the century Argentina became an equally attractive destination. Thus, whereas in the 1880s there were about 1500 Jews in the entire country, by the 1920s a thriving Jewish population of mainly Ashkenazi origin had reached 200,000 in Buenos Aires alone. The Jewish community of Buenos Aires boasted a rich cultural life mainly conducted in Yiddish. But this was no ghetto. Jewish immigrants also learned Spanish and interacted in matters of business and culture with the outer society. After the tango gained status from its enthusiastic reception in Paris, Jewish musicians began playing in tango orchestras. When, thanks to the interpretive talents of Carlos Gardel, the tango became a form of passionate vocal expression, Jewish lyricists penned tangos with Spanish lyrics.
The next step was the composition and performance of tangos in Yiddish. In Eastern Europe, where tangos were already performed in Polish and Russian due to the success of the genre in Paris, Yiddish theater troupes composed their own tangos in addition to adopting the Argentine Yiddish tangos. By the 1930s, Yiddish Theater companies from both Buenos Aires and Eastern Europe were touring to New York, performing tangos and other genres to great acclaim. Some of the most popular East European tangos Czackis cites are from the Ararat Yiddish revue company of Lodz: Ikh ganve in der nakht (“I steal at night”) and Tsi darf es azoy zain? (“Must I be this way?”). Touring companies from New York, Eastern Europe, and Buenos Aires cross-pollinated creatively until the outbreak of the Second World War.
The tango has always had its dimension of emotional darkness, but the era of the Holocaust was its darkest chapter. Jewish musicians and lyricists living in Nazi-imposed ghettos in Vilna, Kovno, Lodz, Bialystok and other urban centers composed, among other songs of resistance, tangos bitterly decrying the conditions under which they struggled to survive. This also occurred in concentration camps. Most of these compositions were lost, but Shmerke Kaczerginsky collected fraction of them was and in 1948 published Lieder fun di getos und lagern (Songs from the Ghettos and Concentration Camps). More macabre still, it is documented that Nazi officers regularly ordered concentration camp orchestras, the lagernkapellen, to play tangos to accompany the marching of prisoners to their deaths. This nightmarish scenario was immortalized in the poem Todestango (Tango of Death) published by Paul Antschel in 1947.
It is amusing to hear the Yiddish tangos that emerged from Jewish communities that flourished in Buenos Aires, Europe and New York through the 1930s but also it is necessary–and I don’t know if Thursday’s performance will represent it—to acknowledge tangos that grew in the desert of despair brought on by the Holocaust. In either case, Yiddish tangos are no joke.
The Yiddish Tango Club performance officially starts at 8:00pm on Thursday, August 21 at the Skirball Cultural Center located at 2701 Sepulveda Blvd. (near Mulholland Drive exit), Los Angeles 90049. The event is free. Doors open at 7:00pm. Apparently Gustavo Bulgach will be informally sharing vintage Yiddish tango recordings between 7:00pm and 8:00pm.
Audrey Coleman-Macheret is a writer, educator, and ethnomusicologist who explores traditional and world music performed in Southern California and beyond.
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