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My Yiddishe Mama

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Album Review

Almost 50 years after Bagels and Bongos, 91-year-old Irving Fields is still up to the same tricks: playing a swinging Jewish/Latin hybrid with his piano trio. My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites is a collection of mostly traditional tunes recorded in early 2007 with the masterful Greg Cohen on bass and Roberto Rodriguez on percussion with Fields at the piano. Fields has a very sprightly style, and age has apparently done nothing to diminish his fleet-fingeredness, as these pieces just sparkle with wonderful playing (just check the accelerating "Hamavdil," one of several solo pieces). Cohen and Rodriguez are a perfectly complementary rhythm team, giving Fields the support he needs so he's free to embellish the tunes. With all his Masada experience, Greg Cohen could probably sleepwalk through an album of this stuff (don't worry, he doesn't) and Fields and Rodriguez played together on one of Rodriguez's own Jewish/Latin releases (Oy Vey! Ole!), giving the trio a very cohesive sound. The performances here are so focused that very few of the 16 tunes crack the three-minute mark, yet one never feels any given song was given short shrift by the players and the playing is excellent from top to bottom. My Yiddishe Mama's Favorites is a thoroughly swinging album that should appeal equally to fans of the downtown Jewish sound (especially those who liked Rodriguez's albums or Steven Bernstein's Diaspora series) as well as the proverbial elderly Jewish grandparents. Well done.

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Genre: Traditional Pop

Years Active: '30s, '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

As of 2002, Irving Fields was one of the last of his generation of active musicians; trained in the prime years of Tin Pan Alley and classic American popular music before World War II, he could be found still playing piano regularly in New York in the second year of the new century. Born in 1915, Fields grew up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and, after a stint as a child actor in Yiddish theater, became part of the generation that followed New Yorkers like Bert Kalmar, Harry Ruby, George Gershwin,...
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My Yiddishe Mama, Irving Fields Trio
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