Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Klez-Edge, The Struggle Can Be Enobling, Featuring Burton Greene

When I heard that pianist-avant-icon Burton Greene was doing something in the Klezmer realm, I knew that it would not be standard Klezmer fare but had no idea where it was going to go. Happily he sent me his 8th Klez venture recently and I have been very much digging into it. Klez-Edge The Struggle Can Be Enobling (Disk-Respect 01) is a very nice mix of rearranged Klez-classics and originals.

Klez-Edge manages to sound both Klezmer authentic and throughout free-loose in the classic Burtonian ensemble way. That does not mean this is specifically a "free jazz" set, but there is an invigorating openness that makes it edgy as well as "Klezzy."

That is made possible of course by Burton's arrangements and compositions but also by the quartet line-up. Burton is on piano and keys and sounds great. Alex Coke plays a limber and central role on tenor, soprano and flute, with a good open-jazz feel and a Klezmer flourish when it seems right. Larry Fishkind gives the band an old-timey-and-beyond sound with the tuba functioning in rootsy and avant ways where the double bass might otherwise be. That gives the band some flexibility too in that he can play counter-lines and solos that stand out as horn lines as well as bass foundations. He does well. Roberto Haliffi is the backbone of the group on drums, combining the snare-centric Klezmer drum style with more modern and open forms.

This is an album of lively music, some old favorites done newly, some new gems both Klez-like and beyond and an unmistakable Greeniana to it all.

Wipe away expectations of what the typical Klezmer revival band is supposed to sound like and instead dig the innovative world-jazz-Greene way through this music. I have been taking to this album more and more. I now perk up to see the cover and find it unforgettable.

Great album! Thanks Burton for taking us to a very good place here. Get this!

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