Golden Horn releases Poyln, A Gilgul by Veretski Pass & Joel Rubin January 16 2016

The new recording by Veretski Pass with clarinetist Joel Rubin is a game changer on the klezmer landscape. The CD is full of exuberant surprises of repertoire gleaned from their private field recordings, manuscripts, and historical recordings, which they’ve molded into 10 beautiful suites that flow beautifully from piece to piece.

This isn’t the usual klezmer record of horas, freylekhs and shers, but rather an in-depth exploration of Jewish-Polish music of obereks, mazurkas, kujawiaks and polkas that have been overlooked by the klezmer scene.

The record also has historical significance, as it is a true reunion of its members, who performed and recorded together as core protagonists of the klezmer revival in the 1980s and 90s, but have not played together for 20 years. Yet it’s as if no time had elapsed. The rapport is palpable and throughly enjoyable from start to finish.

Joel Rubin’s clarinet is not only gorgeous in tone, ornamentation and sheer endless creative variations, but also works so well together with Cookie Segelstein’s violin so as to give the impression that they planned every musical phrase. But the constant improvisation of Veretski Pass proves that they don’t arrange the music at all, but rather listen and react to each other.

Cookie’s violin playing straddles the worlds of rough and ready Polish backwoods fiddling and delicate, but robust classic klezmer playing, creating a swirl of styles that the other members play off of continually. Her rubato improvisations remain standards of the scene and she has delivered several in this recording.

Stuart Brotman’s Zakopany basy, a cello played as a bass, transcends the traditional function and makes forays into melodic interplay that seem to belie musical logic, while holding down the rhythm section and driving the ensemble forward.

Josh Horowitz’s well-known 19th century button accordion weaves between accompaniment and melody in his inimitable style, continually supporting the other lead instruments, so that the listener has the illusion of several strings at times. He also uses the larger piano accordion, as well as tsimbl.

The artwork of Phil Blank perfectly captures the capricious, humorous, melancholy and spiritual depth of the music with a cover and surprise poster insert that burst with colors and ideas.

There is a secret narrative to the whole recording and its visuals, which is referenced in all aspects of this production, hinted at in the fanciful titles - The classic Yiddish short story by I.L. Peretz, “A Gilgul fun a Nign” (The Metamorphosis of a Melody). If you listen carefully, piece by piece, and read the story, each suite and its parts illustrate the transformations of a melody that Peretz follows through his story (The translation summary of which is on the website).

Veretski  Pass has been a powerful force in the klezmer revival, both as traditionalists and as experimenters with the tradition.The significance of this recording will soon become apparent when the international klezmer scene snaps up this repertoire and integrates the music and cornucopia of styles into their own groups, as has happened with all their other recordings.