About the Tune Titles

*a disclaimer - I am not a Yiddish scholar, and I make no claims to be fully accurate or to have any important insight, other than my own motivations for putting names to tunes.


Kleyzmish Moshpit refers to the origin of the word klezmer, which is a combination of the terms Kley - meaning vessel, and Zemer - meaning song. A klezmer, then, is a vessel of song. The word originally referred to the musician, not necessarily to the music itself, which was just wedding music. I liked the sound of Kleyzmish, better than klezmish. The song itself has thrash punk influences, and mosh pit refers to the dance floor at a punk rock show. Slam dancing, ecstatic revelry, it reminds me of the intense dancing at the Lubavitch Chabad House in Seattle on Purim, and also of the intense dancing at frum(orthodox) weddings and other simchas (celebrations) in New York, my adopted home for the past 11 years. It was the similarities of the two that was one of the inspirations for this project in the first place.

Kaddish for Carmen is named for my mother-in-law, Carmen Nelly Manago, who passed away this year. It is in the style of an old Hasidic Nign, and was modeled on the vibe of a couple of pieces we played in Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars. Kaddish is the prayer one says when one has lost a loved one. It is a prayer one says while grieving, but it is a prayer of praise.

Peep Nokh a Mol, means Peep, another one, or Play it again, Peep. This tune was recorded twice before in different versions, but here I added harmony lines, an extra section and a different form. Maybe we finally got it right. Peep is my wife's nickname

Balagan Balaban - 'Balagan' means chaos in Yiddish, and 'Balaban' means drum in Russian. This tune is more than just chaotic drums, but it was so alliterative... and there definitely are chaotic drums. The tune is really a very traditional sounding klezmer tune, but played in a very untraditional way. I did a lot of manipulation in the mixing process here, layering two guitar solos, and two tenor solos, which were from different takes, on top of each other. There are essentially two bands playing on much of the tune, but it was edited in such a way as to be exactly as chaotic as it's supposed to be.

Debkavanah is a mixture of two words: Debka is a kind of Israeli or middle-eastern groove, which is the basis for this tune. Kavanah means 'intensity' or 'intention.' Elaine Watts plays with Kavanah.
Elvin Jones played with Kavanah.

Yiddishe Kop means 'Jewish head' but it really refers to a way of thinking. "The Jewish knack for surviving hard times, combined with traditional reasoning and interpretation of the scriptures, make up "Yiddish Kop" - Jewish head - the key to dealing with the impossible." Thanks Nilton Bonder, hope you don't mind if I stole your explanation. Everyone buy his book.

Khosidl for the Mixed Marriage is played first in a balkan 7 rhythm, and then after the bass solo goes into a real Khosidl rhythm. A Khosidl is a medium walking tempo. Thanks to Greg for the Ellingtonian backgrounds on the bass solo. Being in a mixed marriage is difficult and dangerous, but can be enormously rewarding, and this song is a nod to all those who are brave enough to meet the challenge head on.

Der Rumsisker Maggid/Shema is named for my great, great, great grandfather, Chayim Elchanan Zodikov, who was a well-known travelling Maggid from the shtetl of Rumsiskes, in Lithuania, who wrote a few books, one of which has survived and is still read in yeshivas, so I'm told. A page from his book, which is a Mussar commentary on the book of Iyov (Job), is in the background of the cover of the CD. This tune is played in a traditional zhok(3/8) rhythm, and in the middle of the piece, layered over the improvised section, is a new melody for the first part of the quintissential Jewish prayer, the Shema.

Khosn Kalleh Haskalah refers to the bride and groom and the learning & growing associated with getting married. The Khosn is the groom. the Kalleh is the bride. Haskalah specifically refers to a movement some call the enlightenment, which tried to draw on the best of both the secular and religious worlds. Still controversial I use this term as a title more broadly, perhaps incorrectly, but not blindly, knowing that it brings to mind many images for me. This tune is written in a Sirba style, with a lot of triplets in the melody, against a two beat in the rhythm section.


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