Isle of Klezbos | Greetings from the Isle of Klezbos

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Greetings from the Isle of Klezbos

by Isle of Klezbos

Approaching tradition with irreverence and respect, this soulful, fun-loving powerhouse all-female klezmer sextet brings formidable musicianship and imagination to exuberant, entrancing tunes from folk melodies to Yiddish swing, plus intriguing originals.
Genre: World: World Traditions
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  Song Share Time Download
1. Houdini Hora
2:50 $0.99
2. Goldene Khasene (golden wedding)
2:56 $0.99
3. Revery in Hijaz
4:29 $0.99
4. Klezbos Kolomeyke
3:55 $0.99
5. Rachelle's Doyna Indigo
1:51 $0.99
6. Klezmerengue
1:18 $0.99
7. Abrah
5:27 $0.99
8. Unter Beymer (under the trees)
2:45 $0.99
9. East Hapsburg Waltz
3:17 $0.99
10. Szol A Kakas Mar - LIVE
4:11 $0.99
11. Revery Reprise - LIVE
3:24 $0.99
12. Father's Cadenzas
3:37 $0.99
13. My Father's Nigun
1:19 $0.99
14. Abi Gezunt Medley - LIVE (w/swing finale)
7:39 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
GREETINGS FROM THE ISLE OF KLEZBOS, the much-anticipated debut full-length album by New York's notorious and much-loved all-star, all-female klezmer sextet, shares their wide-ranging tastes and astonishing chops in an array of rollicking dances, modal trances, soaring Yiddish swing solos, and haunting lullaby. Traditionals, danceables, and originals, all enwrapped by fabulous graphics, full lyrics & translation, and lovingly lucid liner notes. The album was nominated for a 2004 Outmusic Award for Outstanding Producer, and features a guest drawing [back cover] by Alison Bechdel of "Fun Home" fame, with her DTWOF character Mo attempting a clarinet wail.

Isle of Klezbos (whose members have also performed with such artists as The Indigo Girls, Natalie Cole, Amy Sedaris, Bruce Springsteen and Bonnie Raitt) deftly explores a wide stylistic assortment of traditional and original music, including both studio arrangements and live-performance bonus tracks, including lesser-known klezmer gems. The group is proud to acknowledge their entertainment value while creating work that is also beautiful, plaintive and vibrant. Groove-oriented meditations, a catchy post-modern waltz, revamped high-energy 2nd Avenue classics, and even a klezmerengue keep the listening landscape eclectic and everchanging.

Since forming in 1998, Isle of Klezbos has played for Showtime's The L Word, CNN Worldbeat, PBS' In The Life, Vienna's Porgy & Bess, KlezMORE Festival (Europe), Seattle's Bumbershoot, NYC's Knitting Factory, Makor, Tonic, Joe's Pub at The Public Theater, The Brooklyn Museum of Art's First Saturday series, BAMcafe at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, National Yiddish Book Center, Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, and colleges from Harvard to Vassar to St. Louis' Edison Theatre at Washington University. The sextet includes four Metropolitan Klezmer members plus two more klezbian comrades: "these women will make you shake your tushies." - Village Voice

“Isle of Klezbos tests the elasticity of the genre” - The New Yorker

"One of the finest young klezmer bands ever to appear on the block" - Phat Planet (UK)

“Talent as strong as its name is provocative... The all-female group is to Eastern European Jewish music what Cherish The Ladies is to Celtic” - Courier News

“Great ears and great hearts” - Der Pakn Treger, National Yiddish Book Center

"A supergroup... with an offbeat sense of humor and a relaxed sense of swing" - George Robinson, Jewish Week

"Internationally acclaimed and much-loved... We'd make a joke, but they beat us to it." - Time Out New York

"The absolute top of the klezmer genre" - RootsTown, Belgium

"Excellent, haunting all-female klezmer band... featuring the human crescendo Pam Fleming on trumpet, a slinky frontwoman, and the astonishingly inventive Eve Sicular on drums" - Lucid Culture

Trumpet/flugelhorn artist PAM FLEMING toured with Natalie Merchant in Lilith Fair, also appearing nationally as guest soloist with the Indigo Girls. She has performed with Bonnie Raitt, reggae star Burning Spear, and the all-women's big band Diva. A dynamic composer and leader of jazz project Fearless Dreamer, playing styles from salsa to swing to funk, she is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. She has been a guest artist with "Little" Jimmy Scott (Sessions at 54th St. on PBS), Cab Calloway, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Palmer, Arrow, Queen Latifah, Sarah McLachlan, Rachel Garniez' Fortunate Few and the Klezmatics. Heard on both Metropolitan Klezmer's Yiddish For Travelers and MetroKlezmer/ Isle of Klezbos' Mosaic Persuasion, she has also been writing klezmer originals.

RACHELLE GARNIEZ, from New York City, picked up the accordion strictly for laughs in 1986 and has been playing professionally ever since. She is particularly enamored of the instrument's versatility and has explored a wide variety of styles including Cajun, Northern Brazilian, merengue, Continental, rock, and old style jazz as well as klezmer. Among her many musical projects, she has led Twilight Time and performed with Tigresa, Xodo, Rajah Rock, Paprika, and Noite Brasiliera. As singer/songwriter/leader, she performs her own cabaret-tinged compositions with her band, the Fortunate Few , and has composed for musical theater and dance performance including her own show, "The Little Frog Catcher," which premiered at NYC's Dixon Place. Her debut CD, Serenade City (1998), acclaimed by Billboard Magazine, and her latest, Crazy Blood (2001), are on Real Cool Records. She is also swing-shift accordionist and harmony vocalist on Mosaic Persuasion.

Vocalist DEBORAH KARPEL's eclectic background brings together musical theater, jazz standards, cabaret, opera, and Yiddish repertoire from her grandfather. Also a member of Metropolitan Klezmer, she is featured on CDs Yiddish For Travelers and Mosaic Persuasion. She has also been seen in PS 122's Obie award-winning Hot Keys, improv group Shock of the Funny, Comedy Central's Strangers With Candy, the 92nd St Y Opera Lab, Amato Opera, art song recitals at NYC's Donnell Library, Intercambio Musicale, Chameleon, and Dixon Place's Opera Vindaloo (as aired on Good Morning America and WNET's City Arts), Ms Karpel was chosen for programs conducted by Portland Opera/Oregon and AIMS (participating in vocal workshops in Graz, Austria).

Clarinet/alto saxophonist DEBRA KREISBERG, a graduate of the Eastman School of Music, received her master's degree in jazz studies from Manhattan School of Music. She performs, composes and records with Latin jazz group Los Mas Valientes on their eponymous debut CD and Gira Caribena (Caribbean Journey). She has also played with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic with Natalie Cole, Joe Gallant's avant-jazz project Illuminati, Impressions jazz trio, funk band D'Tripp, and musical theater. A member of Metropolitan Klezmer as well, she plays on Mosaic Persuasion and co-produced its award-winning recording mix. Her first original klezmer composition has recently been recorded by Isle of Klezbos to appear on their new CD.

Bassist CATHERINE POPPER was born and raised in Charlotte, NC. After high school at the North Carolina School of the Arts studying classical string bass, she received her bachelor's degree at the Manhattan School of Music in jazz bass, and has performed and recorded extensively in highly varied traditional and free jazz, rock, bluegrass, and classical music, as well as a variety of experimental works and movie soundtracks. She tours and records with alt-country phenom Hem, and also plays with Rachelle Garniez' Fortunate Few and elusive alt-rock band, Shimmerhead.

Drummer EVE SICULAR has performed klezmer, rock, R&B, Cajun/zydeco, samba, swing and Mid-Eastern music with such artists as David Krakauer, the Voodoobillies, and the Mazeltones. She founded Metropolitan Klezmer in 1994, producing their debut CD Yiddish for Travelers (1997) as well as Mosaic Persuasion, which won her a 2002 OutMusic Award as Outstanding Producer, and recently wrote her first klezmer original. She formed and leads Isle of Klezbos, and has also led Ana & the Tevkas as well as performing with Charming Hostess, Tigresa, Laura Wetzler, Terry Dame's Sax Appeal, Mediterraneo, Susan Arrow & the Quivers, film soundtracks and live theater. As a film historian, she has worked at the MoMA/National Center for Jewish Film's Yiddish series, and as Curator of Film & Photo Archives at YIVO Institute. She has lectured widely on The Celluloid Closet of Yiddish Film, as published in Queer Jews (Routledge, 2002), and on Soviet film pioneer Esther Shub. An original member of the Lesbian Avenger Marching Band, she has also taught percussion and Yiddish film history at KlezCamp, Buffalo on the Roof, and Mame-Loshn. She received her BA in Russian History & Literature from Harvard.



to write a review

David Kelsey for Aufbau (Jewish Notes)

Klezbians as kosher in a changing Jewish music world
The definition of Jewish music has become both more elastic throughout the history of the Diaspora and more elusive. While klezmer, which was the Yiddish term for wedding music, has, in the last decades, become the genre of choice for defining Jewish music in the Eastern European countries where millions of Jews once lived, Jewish music was never restricted to this loosely defined genre, nor was klezmer ever the dominant musical mode among world Jewry. It is worth noting that traditional Jewish thought might, in fact, resist the notion of "Jewish" music altogether, as the Kabbalah assures that "the notes cannot be corrupted," i.e. with perhaps a few exceptions, no melody is considered "non-kosher." This has translated into an open interest in the tunes of the host nations in which Jews have lived, tunes which have been dressed up with new, Jewish lyrics. This was done without shame by Hasidic rebbes, for example, and it is the reason why so many Hasidic tunes sound like they could just as easily be military drinking songs. They were military drinking songs! What was and still is uniquely Jewish about the music is the way certain composers target their music towards a Jewish audience, or incorporate Jewish themes into their message, whether directly, peripherally or even just subconsciously. Take the Beastie Boys, the most famous hip-hop group with Jewish members. They are certainly not known for a focus on Jewish themes. Nevertheless, their song "Intergalactic" contains the phrase, "Cast you all into exile," which rings particularly Jewish. Isle of Klezbos exists within a changing "Jewish music" world, founded in 1998 by Eve Sicular, who is also the drummer and leader of the band Metropolitan Klezmer. They are one of the most pro-active lesbian groups within the Jewish world. They are also a very serious klezmer band, and like all bands that Sicular leads, they offer a particularly tight live performance, a strength boasted in their CD, "Greetings from The Isle of Klezbos," which includes three live recorded tracks. The music for the most part is classic klezmer in its style and content, though Latin and folk themes are incorporated as well. The lesbian references are there, but are subtle for anyone not looking for them. The lead singer, Deborah Karpel, has a look and style consistent with the Yiddish divas from Yiddish film, music and theater. She delivers powerfully on the heart-wrenching track, "Unter Beymer," about an assimilated male opera singer’s return to Orthodox Judaism. Not exactly the most hard-core of lesbian feminist subject matter. Sicular explains that "there’s plenty of lesbian content throughout my work, but… it’s just not the only thing (and often not the main thing), as in life. But our lesbian and gay audiences certainly appreciate it. Secular Yiddish culture today is known to attract many lesbian Jewish women. Sicular enumerates various reason for this: "The history of strong and progressive women in Yiddish and socialist movements; the co-existence of ACT-UP and the Klezmatics with their openly queer, politicized perspectives; the affirming alternative to alienating abrasive macho/ sabra mandatory Zionism; Yiddish as the vernacular treasure of expression less dominated by a male hierarchical system such as traditional organized religion. All these are among the things one could cite, but definitely that’s just a portion of the full picture," says Sicular. Sicular is not of a purely Eastern European background, and dedicates the melancholy and wistful "East Hapsburg Waltz" to her Oma (grandmother) from Vienna, who died very recently. The CD ends with a rousing rendition of "Abi Gezunt" ("To Your Health"), whose lyrics were written by the most famous Yiddish diva ever, the all-American yiddishe maydel Molly Picon.More about Isle of Klezbos including upcoming concerts can be found at their website,

DIRTY LINEN Folk & World Music magazine: Linda Dailey Paulson (V

Cause for rejoicing. representative of modern klezmer [Dirty Linen magazine]
Klezbos highlights are difficult to select. There's the upbeat invitation to party that is "Klezmerengue," the sinuously hypnotic "Revery in Hijaz" with stunning horn work by Fleming and an understated Kreisberg (also rendered live), and "East Hapsburg Waltz," an original by Sicular... Each of these are very heart-opening recordings, joyful, introspective, and mindful of the world, played exuberantly by stellar musicians.

Songlines Magazine (U.K.)

Top-class klezmer [British review]
There is a sense of playfulness here that is refreshing, with one-off experiements like 'Klezmerengue' and three sharply etched live cuts to round off the set... The band's drummer-leader, Eve Sicular...[is] a polymath who lectures on Yiddish film when she isn't behind her drum-kit.

Ron Bierman, Rambles: A cultural arts magazine

talent, variety, tradition, and some great jazz grooves too
Isle of Klezbos understands and respects the traditional in repertoire, instrumentation and style. Many of the melodies and arrangements will be familiar to klezmer enthusiasts. Others are authentic-sounding originals... The group is at its best in some of the slower arrangements featuring exotic-sounding Arabic harmonies. I especially like the sinuous "Revery in Hijaz" based, liner notes tell us, on a theme from a tune recorded by cymbalist Joseph Moskowitz in 1916. These ladies know their antecedents. Revery is played twice, the second time in a "reprise" that is one of three live-audience tracks.
Not that the faster cuts are chopped liver... [These are] talented and well-trained musicians. Professional experience runs the gamut from rock to classical. Clarinetist Debra Kreisberg has the klezmer style down pat, making appropriate use of bent notes, trills and ornaments. She also has a lovely sound on alto sax on which she sometimes slips out of klezmer into a surprisingly tasty mainstream jazz groove. Pam Fleming has a beautiful tone on both trumpet and the softer fluglehorn. She too knows klezmer well but occasionally shifts to jazz. Eve Sicular is a fine drummer and the founder of both Isle of Klezbos and the better known Metropolitan Klezmer. In-the-style bass and accordion round out the instrumentation. Deborah Karpel adds Yiddish vocals on two of the release's 14 tracks.
Klezmer fans won't be disappointed and I also recommend the album to newcomers looking for something different. Jazz lovers may be especially susceptible.
I'll conclude by not commenting on the sort of triple-pun group name. Hope you appreciate my restraint.

Judith Gennett

a cosmopolitan sound, integrated at the roots, so that the music sounds like viv
Though IOK bounces around a lot, for example in the slapstick "Golden Wedding," many of their tracks seem like slow moving clouds of steam, in this case the two bracketing tunes, "Houdini Hora" and sax/clarinetist Debra Kreisberg's ethnojazz composition "Abrah," as well as a much later track, "Revery In Hijaz." Hijaz with trumpet high jazz as well!  Another, "Father's Cadenzas," seems always ready to take off, but never does...until it pops into the next track, the short but peppery "My Father's Nigun." The leader of the band is drummer Eve Sicular, so percussion has clout in all the arrangements, but you might also hear Catherine Popper's bass as rhythm.  As for the faster tunes, the unusual one is "Klezmerenge"; IOK throws in a fast merenge accordion run the way some other bands throw in klezmer!

Nice solid band, nice glitch-resistant albums. These are recommended for danceaholics and partygoers from anywhere...but especially those who like those Eastern sounds!

RootsTown Folk & Roots music magazine (Belgium)

the absolute best in the klezmer style
In Isle of Klezbos, consisting of six women, there are some members who also play in Metropolitan Klezmer. They don't take themselves overly seriously, as the name of the band and the cover of the cd prove: a kitschy holiday postcard with Greetings from the Isle of Klezbos on it, with a background of sand and seashells. A great find. The music is, just as with MK, of a very high standard of quality. Again with a lot of variety and very swinging. They cover the whole reach of klezmer: hora's, doyna's, Oriental influences, Balkan and wedding party music, even Latin American and Brazilian influences. Anyone who can come up with a title like klezmerengue and compose the music that matches it is working at a high level. That all musicians, both of MK and IOK, play at a rarefied top level is no surprise... Add to this the beautiful vocals of Deborah Karpel and everything comes together. A mandatory buy for the true lover of Klezmer, to whom I also recommend visiting their website. It is as well-tended as the CD's and booklets.

Chris Nickson, All Music Guide

All Music Guide Review (AMG Expert Pick!)
It's interesting to note the Isle of Klezbos is an all-female band in the male-dominated field of klezmer (admittedly, nowhere near as male-dominated as it used to be), but don't read too much into the punny name. It's better to judge any band by the music it makes, and some of this is remarkably good. "Golden Khasene," for example, trades off clarinet and trumpet leads backed by some excellent accordion for a strong take on a wedding tune. The wittily titled "Klezmerengue" nimbly fuses klezmer with a meringue beat so seamlessly that the join never flows -- a tribute to the musicianship on offer. Much of the disc is made up of the band's takes on traditional pieces, a few recorded live, such as "Szol A Kakas Mar," but there are some originals, like Debra Kreisberg's "Abrah," which proves to be a good exercise with some roots in klezmer. Not everything is perfect on the record, however: as much as it strains, "Father's Cadenzas" never quite manages to take off and go places. That aside, this is excellent stuff, as good as any klezmer album around today.

Rainlore Reviews, Richard/Renaissance Man

Hot & cool musical vacation destination (U.K. reviewer)
More than generous doses of verve, charm and elegant sophistication... Greetings from The Isle of Klezbos is as fine a debut album as any band could wish for. You're bound to enjoy this musical vacation on The Isle. Bask in this glorious heat and sunshine, enjoy the cool refreshing breeze.

Gigi Yellen-Kohn, Seattle Jewish Transcript

soulful, poignant, fun, edgy: Klezmer with occasional swing & Latin sidetrips
The drummer and founder of Metropolitan Klezmer, Eve Sicular, is also the leader of its all-female offshoot, Isle of Klezbos. Both bands are associated -- just like the Klezmatics -- with Manhattan's edgy incubators of Klezmer music and contemporary urban lifestyles.
Live recording[s] from Joe's Pub ... grace both new discs: a medley of a doyna, an old nigun, and 'Abi Gezunt' features vocalist Deborah Karpel... a guaranteed crowd-pleaser with lyrics by Molly Picon... Karpel is soulful in the band's spare arrangement of the poignant lullaby 'Unter Beymer' from a 1940 Moyshe Oysher film. Isle's accordionist, Rachelle Garniez, explores fun connections between a Latin merengue party tune and a Yiddish theatre standard; and clarinetist Debra Kreisberg slides Klezmer into Brazil.

Gregg Shapiro, Bay Area Reporter (SF) & Windy City Times (Chicag

Isle of Klezbos & Klezmatics: queers & klezmer, a formula that works
Queers and klezmer (Yiddish jazz) music are an unlikely combination, but both the Klezmatics and Isle of Klezbos are proof that the formula works. Greetings from... The Isle of Klezbos (Rhythm Media Records) by the six-member all-female klezmer group is a mix of live and studio tracks that blends traditional selections with originals such as "Abrah" and "East Hapsburg Waltz," written by IOK members Debra Kreisberg and Eve Sicular, respectively.
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