Sunday, April 26, 2009

Open Ears 2009: Saturday April 25

Yes, it was day two of the 2009 Open Ears Festival...and I was there. Sort of.

"Vexed," 16 hours, 840 repetitions, much fun

Remember when I said "I was there" in the first sentence of this post. Forget it. I didn't go to "Vexed"

Why not? I guess because I have a strong aversions to "happenings" of any kind. I'm not the type, and I'm generally not a huge fan of those who are. And even though -- in retrospect -- it looked like there were plenty of innovative ways of making it less than simply "840 repetitions," I still couldn't bring myself to take part in it.

Saturdays are good days for breakfast, underwear shopping, and catastrophic thunder storms. I enjoyed all three.

"Flying Bulgars"

Not a SINGLE ONE of them actually flew! But I'm getting ahead of myself.

This was held at St. John the Evangelist church. Do you know how many "St. Johns" there are? The taxi driver told me all about them...John the Baptist, John the apostle, John the Evangelist. Neither of us knew who this particular evangelist was...I don't believe he's ever had a TV show.

Anyway, what do you get when you have a concert in a church gymnasium? Tinny sound, unfortunately, The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band sounded best when they were laid-back and quiet. When they pulled out the stops and really started romping around, the gymnasium became their Enemy of Treble Echoes.

Even so they were fantastic. I'm not a klezmer fan by any stretch of the imagination -- I find it awfully repetitive and just a tad goofy -- but the Flying Bulgars set consisted mostly of original compositions, and those compositions were AMAZING: original, complex, beautifully articulate, and sometimes political.

Two downsides, though: these new songs will only be available on their UPCOMING album. And they also played a few klezmer songs, surprisingly. I mean, songs that make me think of "The Chicken Dance." Done in a top-notch way, of course -- the arrangements were, I'm sure, absolutely the best -- but still an awful lot of "mazel tov." Which is a shame because, as evidenced by their original work, they can do SO MUCH MORE.

Flugelhorn. How is it differentiated from "a trumpet?" I'm not sure. David Buchbinder can sure play it. Deviating somewhat from the traditional sound of the set, Buchbinder coaxed his flugelhorn into doing some very unusual tricks, without ever -- EVER -- seeming stupid or gimmicky. And Dave Wall has a voice of unleashed power and beauty. Everybody else was great as well, and if their new album had been available I would have bought it in a second.

Oh yes, and the Evangelists served us alcohol and gave us cheese. That's always a good thing!

I leave you with Dana International. Everything I know about Yiddish* I learned from her, so here she is singing "Yesnan Banot." The Flying Bulgars were not particularly like this.

* As Gary pointed out in the comments, Dana International is singing in HEBREW, not Yiddish. So I guess it really IS true that "everything I know about Yiddish I learned from her," ie. "nothing."


Winkie said...

Nice review chickita. That gym did have such unfortunate accoustics for the rousing tunes of the Bulgars.

The Fluegel horn has a larger bore throughout the tubing. Gives it a mellower sound than a trumpet but requires the player to move more air through the instrument to get a sound out of it! Very challenging. They're used most often in jazz and blues.

Al said...

I wish I`d know about that show!

I did catch David Buchbinder the next day, on Sunday, April 26, with a trio, at Caplansky`s Deli, upstairs at the Monarch Tavern on Clinton St.

It was so good I had to stay for both afternoon sets. Cheese is good, but we were able to chow down on home-made smoked meat deli sandwiches. Mmmm!

If you`re interested, I posted a short review and photo at:

I heard he will be playing with his Odessa-Havana band at the Lulu Lounge on May 13.

Adam Thornton said...

Aha, thanks for the Fluegel skinny, Winkie! You're better than Wikipedia anyday!

Adam Thornton said...

Great review, Al! I agree that smoked meat sandwiches would have been even better than the cheese, though we had the benefit of all six Bulgars on I guess it balances out.

Gary said...

Glad that you liked the Flying Bulgars. I will have to give a listen...

Learned about Dana International from your post. I had never heard of her before, and was surprised to learn of his/her background in Israel.

BTW, she seems to sing in Hebrew (based on the names of her albums and some songs). Since her background is Sephardic/Middle Eastern (not European), I would be surprised if she sings Yiddish songs (except for some of the famous "standards").

Go figure...

Adam Thornton said...

Good call, Gary! It does appear that she sings (primarily) in Hebrew, with only a select few "standards" in Yiddish:

Gary said...

Thanks for the cred on your updated post. Just keepin' it real.

For those who are unaware of the distinctions between Yiddish and Hebrew:

>> Yiddish is an Eastern European language of Germanic origin (with loads of borrowed words), written with Hebrew characters. It was often the language used in the "old country" between Jews for household and commercial purposes. It was transplanted intact to North America with the waves of migration beginning in the late 1800's.

>> Hebrew is both an ancient language (used for the Torah, or Old Testament), and the language of modern Israel. It has been brought up to date from Abraham and Moses’ day with terms for television, air travel and the Internet!

There are many, many songs in both languages, and numerous compositions (some of which are "Klezmer"). Then there's the religious cantorial and liturgical pieces...

Oy vey!