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The Klezmonauts - Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas Review

by Sherrill Fulghum

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Tired of the same of Christmas carols?

Chicago musician, composer, arranger Paul Libman has used his creative genius that is usually reserved for commercials and musical theatre to provide the perfect answer to this dilemma. Libman has created a band known as The Klezmonauts to form a musical marriage of Christian Christmas music and klezmer music – Jewish music.

The result is a hilarious and fun sound that will have everyone in a joyous holiday spirit. Libman doesn't stop there; nearly every song has a sampling of old and very familiar sounds from the opening whistle of "The Good The Bad and The Ugly", to "Rhapsody in Blue", surf tunes, James Brown, and even the opening rift from "Ina Goda Na Vida". It's almost as fun trying to pick out the measures from other tunes as it is to listen to the songs themselves.

The result of Libman's work is The Klezmonauts "Oy to the World". If the name and title don't confuse you enough the album cover will complete the job – a Christmas orament with a Jewish star on it. But once the album begins to play all confusion is gone and the merriment begins. The album contains 10 songs which include nine "traditional" tunes and one original work. Among the more familiar tunes is a version of "Jingle Bells" sung in Yiddish. Also found on the album are "Deck the Halls", "Carol of the Bells", "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen", "The Little Drummer Boy" which includes pieces from Tevye's "Tradition" in "Fiddler on the Roof" and those surfer tunes, and a beautiful rendition of "Away in a Manger" completes the album. The original song is called "Santa, Gey Gesunder Heit" (Go in Good Health). The song is a comical look at Santa's plight to do his job, "gotta work the territory…god forbid you should be late."

Paul Libman is one of those people whose music is heard on a daily basis but no one notice – or even knows – because he writes television commercial jingles. Among his creations are Keebler ads, Hamburger Helper, Freedent Gum, Century 21, and Raisin Bran. Like many jingle writers Libman gets numerous demo tapes from wannabes. He has taken the best of the worst and put them on his website. Fans of American Idol auditions show will love Libman's contributions to the effort.

Anyone who has ever seen the movies "Fiddler on the Roof", "Yentl". "A Stranger Among Us'. And "The Chosen" has heard what is today known as klezmer music. It is also referred to as Jewish music. Klezmer music is played using various strings, a drum, some percussion, a clarinet, horns, a piano, and an accordion or any combination thereof and comes out of the shtetls (small villages) in Eastern Europe. Klezmer music is intended for dancing during a wedding or some other celebration and is characterized by frequent tempo and key changes. Songs usually include both major and minor keys. Lyrics are typically sung in Yiddish.

"Oy to the World" can be gotten from the band website, iTunes, and Napster. "Oy to the World" is guaranteed to cheer up even the nastiest Scrooge.


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The Klezmonauts - Oy to the World: A Klezmer Christmas

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