Funky and fiery family brass band from Ukraine, playing the wild and sweet wedding music of Podolia, singing some heart-rending a capella songs. Fresh, deeply rooted, breathtaking.
Ukrainian musicians Konsonans Retro’s acclaimed debut CD A Podolian Affair brings back to life the Jewish Brass Band music of the area through the collaboration between the musicians of the local Baranovsky family and Berlin-based clarinettist Christian Dawid.

Odessa was the only city in which Jews were not governed by a rabbinical council, which meant that they were free to evolve into a secular, civil society which meant tavern-going and music-making. The Ukraine’s large Jewish population influenced the brass band music of that area. The Baranovsky brothers and their cousins play trumpets, accordion, trombone and barabon in the band, having been trained by their elders, Moise and Maria Baranovsky. Vasyl Baranovsky started playing in his father’s orchestra at the age of four, so he remembers many old pieces which are now perhaps only known to him. Christian Dawid, who arranged all the pieces, and London-based drummer Guy Schalom, successfully meld a Western sensibility on to the Baranovskys’ traditionalism.

"On this recording, Dawid sits in on woodwinds, and Britain's Guy Schalom joins in on drums, complementing the band's usual baraban. The result is a Podolian Dirty Dozen Brass Band—lively, exciting, wonderful harmonies, even wonderful vocal harmonies on slipped-in Ukrainian tunes like "limonchiki" (part of the "Freylekh No. 5 medley") and "Oy u hayu pri Danuy. The album closes with a single voice singing a Ukrainian love song, accompanied only by accordion, and then breaking into two voices and what sounds like an entirely different song—a bonus celebration of human voice transcending even the exuberance of the full Konsonans Retro.

The cross-fusion is still happily in progress. Gennadiy Fomin, from Kharkov klezmer, joins with Dawid band in a local "Podilska". Some of the tunes are strikingly unfamiliar. The Moldavskiy Dans (the liner notes say that "dans" is the local term for what Jewish musicians would traditionally call a "zhok" or "hora") is a lovely waltz-ish number. The "Niviy Sher" would seem more familiar to denizens of a balkan dance night than an American Jewish wedding, and the "Khasitsky Freylekhs" is a sweet-sounding Hasidic (?) Freylekhs. Their brassy Hasidic "Shabes Nign" is very different from the arrangements with which I am familiar, but is still unmistakably "Shabes Nign." As noted by the reviewer on the Blog in Dm, Podolia is the birthplace of Hasidism, so it is wonderful to hear local versions of these songs, as well as to reconnect with the source, so to speak.

This is the most exciting brass band with a Jewish repertoire since, well, probably since Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars or the Panorama Jazz Band. It's also a funny reminder. Here in the States, we think it interesting and a bit normal that our friends play here in a bluegrass band, there in a Celtic band, and over there in a klezmer ensemble, cleverly keeping the repertoire's mostly separate. In Konsonans Retro we see one band with a repertoire spanning all of Eastern Europe's cultures, playing one or the other as appropriate, and all as smoothly and perfectly as the other. What a wonderful discovery."
Ari Davidow

01. Moldavskaya Polka
02. Freylekhs No 5
03. Bulgaryas
04. Kurka Chubaturka
05. Khusidl & Bulgaryas
06. Sher No 2 & Sher No 7
07. Podliska
08. Doina & Sher No 13
09. Moldavskiy Dans & Sirba
10. Noviy Sher & Hora
11. Oy U Hayu Pri Dunayu
12. Zagnitkiver Sher
13. Moldavskaya Hora
14. Shabes Nign
15. Khasitsky Freylekhs
16. Trombon Hora
17. Moldovenyaska
18. Khasitsky Tanets & Horo
19. Akh Ty Dushechka

Christian Dawid: clarinet, alto sax
Vasyl Baranovsky: trumpet, bayan (4, 11, 19)
Volodymyr Voronyuk: trumpet
Volodymyr Baranovsky: accordion
Vitaly Baranovsky: trombone
Oleksandr Voronyuk: tuba
Vyacheslav Baranovsky: baraban
Guy Schalom: drums

Gennadiy Fomin: clarinet (7)



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