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Moshe Berlin (Moussa) | Sulam

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Spiritual: Judaica Folk: Traditional Folk Moods: Instrumental
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by Moshe Berlin (Moussa)

It is mind-blowing that this is Moshe Berlin's first recording. It has certainly been one of my favorites for a lot of years. Recorded in Germany with a versatile ensemble that includes Roman Kunsman on flute
Genre: Spiritual: Judaica
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  Song Share Time Download
1. The Lord will bless his people with Peace/Sammy's Freilakh (Gior
6:36 $0.99
2. Dobranoc and Skocna (trad.)
Moshe Berlin & Roman Kunsman
5:58 $0.99
3. Yiddish Nign and Dances
Lev Grisha
7:16 $0.99
4. My Father's Nign (trad., in the style of Modzhitz)
Moshe Berlin
8:58 $0.99
5. Ve'ulai'”And Maybe (Rachel/Yehuda Sharet)
Moshe Berlin
6:59 $0.99
6. Freilakh Number 19 (trad. Balkan)
5:38 $0.99
7. *The Flute (David Zahavi)
Roman Kunsman
2:43 $0.99
8. Two Lights (Mordechai Ze'eera)
Roman Kunsman
2:15 $0.99
9. *Chasidic Dance (Roman Kunsman)
Roman Kunsman
3:23 $0.99
10. Three Modzhitzer Niggunim (trad. Modzhitz, arr. Kunsman)
Moshe Berlin & Roman Kunsman
6:03 $0.99
11. Meron Spirit (trad.)
Moshe Berlin
4:50 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
An introduction by Professor Andre Haidu (musicologist, and Israel prize winner):

In this CD you can listen to one of the latest developments of the genre called Klezmer-Music.
The members of the group are active klezmer - i.e performing in a traditional manner Jewish East-European repertory. However they follow a rather new path of this field: Their music sounds much more virtuose and free both in individual solo-playing and orchestral colors then the usual klezmer-band.
Let us mention that the tunes were not "arranged" but played spontanously in concert and they would probably sound very different whenever played again. This sophisticated improvisatoty technique is due to the jazz-background of some of the players, who are nevertheless highly respectful to the specifity of the Jewish instrumental style. This blend makes this CD unique in the genre.

The first recording of Moshe Berlin's of which I am aware was of his ensemble, "Sulam" which featured, among other people, the great late Russian-Israeli jazz flautist Roman Kunsman (1941 - 2002). Kunsman had founded Israel's first major jazz band, "Platina" in the early 1970s. By the 1980s, however, he was playing klezmer with Moussa Berlin and the two of them were making incredible music. That 1992 live CD (recorded in 1990) is one of my most treasured klezmer albums. What is even more interesting is that note at the bottom of the bottom of the liner notes that this concert was recorded at a Tel Aviv workshop that included Brave Old World and the Klezmatics.

Since Kunsman's death, there have been several tributes, include the belated release of the Platina's third album, a jazzed up Debussy set titled "the girl with the flaxen hair. But the best tribute of all may be this re-release of the Sulam album, with some new tracks featuring Kunsman added. As on the original album, they are playing primarily music from the Meron repertoire (hasidic tunes brought over in the 18th century by the great pre-Zionist, post-Chielmenicki Hasidic migration to Tsfat and remembered/built-on since then, occasionally dipping into Israeli folk music (V'ulai) or the faux hasidic repertoire of Giora Feidman ("The Lord will bless his people with peace/Sammy's freilach).

Berlin's clarinet is, as always, stunning. But the real revelation is Kunsman's jazz-influenced flute and his interplay with Berlin and with the rest of the band (none of whom are slouches, either). Many of the songs have the added edge of being played live.

Israeli klezmer is much more sweetly arranged than American klezmer, and usually, much less jazzy. The discordance that gives American klezmer so much of its soul is here replaced by a focus on tunefulness and harmony. The violin playing "Belz" and "Oyfn Pripechik" on the "Yiddish Nign and Dances" medley is simply as close to perfection as one can get. At the same time, the band turns the Israeli folk chestnut, "v'ulai" (and maybe these things never happened....) into an incredibly soulful, deep, klezmerized experience finally breaking out into a perfectly-paced dance led by Kunsman's flute entwined with Berlin's clarinet over and under back and forth as the band maintains a rhythm that simply moves without the American "oom pa pa" that drives me crazy.

Revisited by Ari Davidow, 10/4/04

It is mind-blowing that this is Moshe Berlin's first recording. It has certainly been one of my favorites for a lot of years. Recorded in Germany with a versatile ensemble that includes Roman Kunsman on flute (leader of Israel's most famous 1970s jazz band, Platina) and others equally stellar, the real star here is Berlin, whose clarinet soars through traditional melodies that often sound just a bit different from what we are more used to in the United States. The repertoire also ranges from traditional Eastern European to klezmer to modern hasidic. Some of that has to do with the concept of the "Meron" tradition. Meron is a town near Tzfat (Safed) in Israel's north. During the 16th century, the world's major kabbalists--men like Luria and Josef Caro--shaped much of what we now know as Jewish spirituality in Tzfat. Today's Meron tradition likelier harks back to the Hasidic influx of the 19th century, but even so, these tunes, as played by Berlin, embody a spirituality and grace that is seldom captured--or even understood to be part of klezmer. Even when the band plays familiar tunes, as on the "Yiddish Nign and Dances" with stitched together melodies from "Belz" and "Oyfn Prepetchik", featuring solos by Kunsman, there is a grace and skill to this playing that is rare. Sadly, Berlin is not only the extraordinary klezmer from Israel, but possibly the only klezmer from Israel worth listening to. Given skill and soul this deep, that's enough [GRADE: A+]

Appeared on klariner@woodwinde.org:

Today was certainly a musical day for me.

Moshe Berlin's "Sulam" was in my mailbox this morning. I had ordered
it because Moshe --- is it proper to address you as Moshe, Moshe? If
not, please accept my apology --- mentioned that he and his
compatriots played it without written music. Moshe didn't mention that
apparently "Sulam" is the first CD that he ever recorded.

"Sulam" is equally divided between clarinet, flute, and fiddle with
piano & percussion parts. So it's not just clarinet. The flute and
fiddle parts are top notch also. The songs have a much wider variety
of styles and colors and tempos and moods than I expected to hear on a
"Klezmer" album.

I do recommend "Sulam" for it's overall musical value, not just for its
clarinet interest.

About "SULAM"

"There was only one genuine klezmer group at the festival this year... Their rough-sounding clarinets speak to God, not to the box office" (Pamela Kidron in The Jerusalem Post July6. 1990)

"Mossa Berlin is the man of Meron klezmer style... He is one of the bussiest klezmers even without any public relations" (Israel Zohar in Maariv July 14, 1989)

"What mussa Berlin has done tonight, I haven't seen such in my life" (Yosi Mar-Haim, musical manager of the forth Safed festival in a vuvud broadcast of the conclusive concert of the festival)


Twelve years ago, I found this CD (Sulam--Klezmer Music From Tel Aviv)in a record store in Montreal. Ever since, it has been my most played and most favourite CD of all time. It has accompanied me on travels to Sydney, Australia and Sydney, Nova Scotia.
But,Yesterday, when I attempted to play it, I discovered to my chagrin that I had damaged it and it is now unplayable.
I now live in a remote part of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia where there is loads of traditional Scottish fiddle music, but no Klezmer.
I would be eternally grateful if you could tell me how I might order this CD, or even if it is still available. (There was one listing under 'Klezmershack' by someone who said he had recorded this CD, but the link to his web site, or the web site itself is down.)
I would also want to order any CD's you have made since then.
Jacqueline Buckman
Margaree Harbour, NS, Canada.



to write a review

Jacqueline Buckman", morgan_lafaye@hotmail.com

I left the job, the university,....But kept the CD and my soul...
Several years ago, I was a tenured English Prof at an Ontario university which shall remain unnamed.
I enjoyed teaching the students, but thought my colleagues were soulless academics, without feeling, and kept my distance from them.
But one day, I lent your CD to a colleague who was active in the local jazz society and told him I thought he might really enjoy it.
A few days later, I found the CD in my mailbox without comment. He never said anything about it.
That experience became a kind of benchmark--it encapsulated everything that was wrong with the whole department. Shortly after, I left the job, the university, Ontario, and never looked back....But kept the CD and my soul...