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Friday, May 30, 2014

Ty Citerman – Bop Kabbalah (Tzadik Records) ***½

By Chris Haines

This has been released as part of the Radical Jewish Culture Series on Tzadik Records.  The music incorporates elements of klezmer, nigunim, jazz & rock styles played by a guitar lead quartet.  Containing composed and improvisational structures the music at times is flavoured by the klezmer and nigunim sounding melodies.  Nigunim are a type of melody found in Jewish religious vocal music that are generally improvised.

The album starts off sounding like a chamber-rock group with the likes of Univers Zero springing to mind.  At times this type of style is returned to but for the most part the music is quite varied throughout the album, whilst retaining a sense of continuity.  There is some good interplay between the instrumentation, especially during the more improvised moments, that makes for interesting listening with the various instruments being deployed to their strengths, which enhances the various moods of the music at any one time.

For me the album really comes to life on the track Talmudic Breakbeat, which has a latin-type feel to the piece and real energy.  The trumpet plays a melody line that could easily have been taken from a British sitcom from the Seventies (that’s meant as a good thing!) and a handclapping rhythm that doesn’t sound too dissimilar from Steve Reich’s Clapping Music.  This is followed by a completely contrasting piece, Exchanging Pleasantries with a Wall, where Ty Citerman, gradually builds gentle layers of repeated notes through delay and changes the complete feel of the album thus far.

There is a real sense of creativity within the music and the musicianship is unquestionable.  ‘Bop Kabbalah’ is a good listen and one that piques an interest to return to it for repeated encounters.

Personnel: Ty Citerman (guitar), Ken Thomson (bass clarinet), Adam D Gold (drums) & Ben Holmes (trumpet).