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At the Rebbe's Table

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Album Review

This is Tim Sparks' third album as a leader for the Tzadik label, and as with the others he interprets tunes from the repertoire of traditional Jewish song. Here, he takes a few pieces from the noted modern composer Naftule Brandwein, along with an eclectic selection of traditional Yemenite, Sephardic, Hasidic, and Klezmer melodies. This album is distinguished, at least in part, by the unusual collection of musicians, such as avant-gardists Marc Ribot on guitar and Erik Friedlander on cello, all of whom were handpicked by executive producer John Zorn. Zorn even contributed one of the compositions, the traditional-sounding "Mashav." Sparks stamps each piece with his own unique concept that incorporates elements of modern folk music and some jazz. He transforms the traditional Jewish repertoire so that it barely resembles the way in which the songs have typically been played. They are mutated into lovely, tuneful melodic excursions that, although not vigorous enough to serve in their usual roles as dance music for weddings or religious holidays, are paragons of loveliness. In Sparks' fingers, these tunes are given new life as modern folk tunes, with Cyro Baptista's consistently rhythmic percussion giving them a forward-reaching thrust. Rejecting simplistic explications of the Jewish niggun, Sparks treats the melodies respectfully as serious guides to a people's past, and in the process explores the life-affirming nature of the music.

Customer Reviews

A true gem

This is exceptional and wonderful music, which will quietly draw you, and then bring travels to experiences which we have once been free to imagine, and will find our ways to again. The world is wide.


Genre: World

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Guitar virtuoso Tim Sparks was born October 31, 1954, in Winston-Salem, NC, taking his first music lessons from his moonshiner uncle; while attending the North Carolina School of the Arts, he also studied classical guitar with Andrés Segovia protégé Jesus Silva. Upon graduating in 1973, Sparks went on tour with an R&B band, and during a stop in Minneapolis he opted to move to the city permanently; there he joined the vintage jazz combo Rio Nido, which recorded albums including I Like to Riff, Hi...
Full Bio
At the Rebbe's Table, Tim Sparks
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  • $9.99
  • Genres: World, Music
  • Released: Apr 23, 2002

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