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Brother Moses Smote the Water

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Album Review

The Klezmatics are arguably the most genre-bending performers on the klezmer scene today (and perhaps of any day). Here, they combine with an up-and-coming singer from the South. That singer just happens to be of an ancient order of Judaism and is African-American, and he attempts to fuse gospel soul with traditional Jewish works. Of course, they got along marvelously. The album focuses on the similarities and ties between Jews and blacks, particularly in the aspects of slavery, the shared songs from Passover and gospel services, and the vibrant cultures. There are notes of pure klezmer and of pure gospel, but the concert from which the album was recorded is really a masterpiece of fusion. The styles are crunched together nearly seamlessly, the languages used (alternately Hebrew, Yiddish, and English) being the only differential in some parts. Joshua Nelson (the gospel singer) tends toward a Mahalia Jackson sound, and the Klezmatics themselves do what they always do. Slapped together, it's a joyous, powerful affair. For fans of musical cross-pollination, this album is a godsend. It's cross-cultural fusion done right. For an added bonus, the CD includes a short bit of video footage from the Berlin concert.


Formed: 1985 in New York City, NY

Genre: World

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The Klezmatics take one of the wildest approaches to klezmer, the traditional dance music of the Eastern European Jews. Although their music is heavily influenced by the recordings of Abe Ellstein and Dave Tarras in the 1940s and 1950s, their lyrics comment on a wide variety of political and social issues and have led the group to be labeled "the planet's radical Jewish roots band." The original members of the Klezmatics -- Dave Lindsay (bass), Rob Chavez (clarinet), Alicia Svigals (fiddle) -- were...
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Brother Moses Smote the Water, The Klezmatics
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