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by Lemez Lovas

Songlines - March 2009

Out of all the myriad groups taking apart and then rebuilding new repertoire out of klezmer and Balkan music, there can be no doubt that the Amsterdam Klezmer Band are one of the most accomplished bands around. Famed for their cooking live shows and ultra-tight horn section, it was 2007's Remixed album that really set them apart, pairing their dance floor-friendly licks with top DJs and producers, and allowing Yiddish music to really let loose in the global Gypsy club revolution.


Now they are back with Zaraza, their fifth original studio album and the second for groundbreaking Frankfurt label Essay. Their recipe of new compositions with sparkling clarinet, sax and brass melodies, and infectious accordion-propelled grooves, is as tasty as ever.
The ace in their pack is undoubtedly singer Alec Kopyt - an iconic Odessaborn raconteur whose early recordings as Poza are essential. Here, his trademark sweet-as-sugar but rough-as-sandpaper voice is on typically fine form, lamenting about life on 'Takaj Zhizn' - although on the intricate, Balkan-sounding 'Gde', the vocals feel like something of an afterthought, for Kopyt's voice isn't allowed enough space to shine above the densely layered instrumentation. There's a plethora of action-packed instrumentals, but the best track on the album is 'Op Eeen Goppe', sung in Dutch. I have no idea what it means, but the rhythm of the language works a treat, somehow giving the band a lighter, more organic feel. All in all, this is another solid, impressive release from one of the best in the business.
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