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MP3 The Shpil - The Shpil

Leaping shtetls and genres in a single bound. Irreverent interpretations of klezmer standards, songs in Yiddish and Macedonian, Balkan- and klezmer-influenced originals, and quirky accordion-laced covers of Michael Jackson, the Beatles and Lady Gaga.

12 MP3 Songs in this album (47:18) !
Related styles: World: Klezmer, World: Balkan, Mood: Quirky

People who are interested in Balkan Beat Box The Klezmatics should consider this download.

1. Bad Romance by Lady Gaga and RedOne: Accordionist Isaac Schankler had just finished his arrangement of this a few weeks before The Shpil’s July 2010 recording session, and the band recorded it "just in case."

2. Rumshinsky’s Yiddishe Hoedown: The opening violin melody is based on Ahava Rabo by klezmer violinist and bandleader Avram Moyshe Kholodenko (“Pedutser”), Berditchev, Ukraine, 1828-1902. Violinist Claire Bergen learned it from the great klezmer fiddler Steven Greenman.

The main dance tune is a klezmer standard that goes by many names, including Theater Bulgar, as arranged by Yiddish theater composer Joseph Rumshinsky (Lithuania/New York, 1881-1956). Clarinetist Jessica Ruiz learned it from the matriarch of contemporary klezmer fiddlers, ex-Klezmatic Alicia Svigals.

3. Twirly Moustache by Isaac Schankler evokes the image of a fair maiden tied to the train tracks by an evil, mustachioed villain in an old black-and-white silent film, and has become The Shpil’s tribute to MALABOMBA mastermind DJ Jason Savvy and his appropriately-shaped mustache.

4. Jovano, Jovanke, a well-known Macedonian folk song:

Jovano, Jovanke,
You sit by the Vardar, Bleaching your white linen,
Bleaching your white linen, my dear,
Looking at the hills.

Jovano, Jovanke,
I''m waiting for you,
To come to my home,
And you don''t come, my dear,
My heart, Jovano.

Jovano, Jovanke,
Your mother, won''t let you go,
Come to me, my dear,
My heart, Jovano.

Bassist John Graves is featured on two recently released recordings of this song, the other one by world music band Svara.

5. Lubzina Polkas (Wieź Mnie Konisiu Wieź [“Go Horse Go”], Polka "Płaczka" [“Snivelling Polka”], and Polka Urnoł Się Dostronek [?]): as played by Kapelą Rodzinną Kurasie, Poland. Claire learned these while traveling in her grandmother’s hometown of Rzeszow, Poland in the summer of 2003. The band spoke little English, Claire spoke little Polish, the band’s cousin from Chicago translated, and Claire ended up spending the weekend with the band in the village of Lubzina, where they fed her scrambled eggs from the chickens in their backyard and the matriarch taught Claire polkas and tried to marry her off to one of the family’s grandsons.

Translations by Troy Gawlak, who explains: “In Poland, and many Eastern European countries, the tunes to songs transcend geographical areas and go from village to village, but the lyrics are constantly changing. The same tune in one village, might be about the girls of that village and how pretty they are... the exact same tune, one county over, might be about going to war against the Russians!”

6. Di Sapozhkelekh: Jessica learned the song from Michael Alpert, one of the patriarchs of the klezmer revival, who learned it from Bronya Sakina (1910-1988: b Olvanisk/Golovanyevsk, Kiev Gubernia, Russian Empire [SW Ukraine]) and popularized it throughout the klezmer world.

7. Ruizko Oro: original hot dance number by Jessica in the style of a Macedonian oro.

8. Tayere Odessa: klezmer standard, recorded under the name "Mayn Tayere Odessa" in January 1926 by clarinetist Dave Tarras. Jessica learned the tune from David Krakauer, who originally inspired her to start learning klezmer music.

9. Lucy mit Diamonds (pronounce with Yinglish accent): It is a little-known fact that John Lennon and Paul McCartney did ethnographic research in southwestern Ukraine and found this obscure melody...

10. Dos Zangl by Hirsh Glik: A Yiddish love song between two partisans, Jewish resistance fighters against the Nazis in the Second World War. Hirsh Glik was himself a partisan living in the Vilna ghetto when he wrote this; his song Zog Nit Keynmol, inspired by the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, became the anthem of the partisans. A tribute not to victimhood, but to resistance:

You are blond as a cornstalk,
Beautiful as the sunset.
Lead me over the mountain and valley
And I’ll follow you until we part.
At parting,
In the rosy sunset,
Her lips were like carrots,
Her eyes full of tears.
It was better to be silent.

Listen, maiden, to my wish.
In the rosy sunset,
Swear that you’ll be mine,
And she swore.
He blushed,
Turned crimson like his desire,
Like the sunset
Behind the yellow corn.

Amid the shepherd’s whistling,
The sunset was extinguished.
And deep in the skies
The moon appeared like a sailboat.
It followed them and hung the stars.
And the trees on either side
Were like the poles of a wedding canopy.

Translation from Pearls of Yiddish Song, compiled by Eleanor Gordon Mlotek and Joseph Mlotek, published by the Workmen’s Circle.

11. Thriller! by Rodney L. Temperton: Isaac’s arrangement speaks for itself.

12. Khloptsy (Nie Zhurites Khloptsy): a Lubavitcher Hasidic (Chabad) drinking song, performed as an instrumental jam. Khloptsy was recorded in May 2010 at a session so hot it led to an exploding bass.

Original lyrics in a Ukranian (?) dialect begin,
"Let''s not worry, lads,
What will happen to us,
We''ll soon make it to the inn,
There''ll be vodka there."

Yiddish lyrics translate to:
"Yesterday is gone,
And tomorrow is not here yet.
There is only a little bit of today;
Don''t disturb it with worry.

Grab a drink
As long as you''re alive;
In the world to come,
You won''t get any."

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