|2||Mekhels Shwartse Khasene||
|3||Gramester Fun der Khupe||
|4||Cimpulunger Mitsve Tants||
|6||Rakhover Tsum Tish||
|12||Josefs Tish Nign||
|15||Doina Af Tsvey Strunes||
|2||Goldbergs Tatar Tants||
|7||Pedotsers Sîrba mit Variatsyes||
|10||Tkhine fun Yas||
|14||Di Groyse Hora||
Recorded live at Moods im Schiffbau,
Zürich, November 24, 2005 and Alhambra Theatre, Geneva, November 25, 2005
Editing and Mastering Engineer: Megasonic Sound Studio, Jeremy Goody
Editing: Joshua Horowitz, Cookie Segelstein, Jeremy Goody
Additional Editing: Horizon Music Group, Vic Steffens (CD 2, track 16)
CD Producers: Joshua Horowitz, Cookie Segelstein
CD Booklet: Joshua Horowitz, Cookie Segelstein
Artwork: Emily Lubanko
Studio Photos: Robert Illemann
Additional Photos: Budowitz
Executive Producer: Golden Horn Records, Ates Temeltas
Budowitz on KQED (San Francisco)'s Spark Program
Budowitz Live Interview
This interview is a conversation between Ates Temeltas, the executive producer of Golden Horn Records and Josh Horowitz from Budowitz
You recorded with Swiss National Radio, who are known for their meticulous recording quality. What was your experience with them?
We've been friends with Jürg Soloturnmann, the producer, for years. He's a wonderful man and a great saxophonist as well. His interest in ethnic music is insatiable, and he's been a supporter of Budowitz for over a decade. The crew was a dream team, so when we took the recording back to the states to edit and master it, the engineers here asked if we artificially put the clapping in. They couldn't believe it was a live recording, as there weren't the usual coughs and pops and cable noises you get. It’s as smooth as molasses on a warm day. But the other part of this production is you Ates. We just love working with you. It’s such a pleasure to be able to do a production that allows full freedom of every aspect, but with great creative input from the producer.
Did you play more carefully because it was a one-shot deal?
No, not at all. For some reason, we were all "on" that night. The audience was totally with us, and we were psyched to play. We'd learned the program that very same week, so we knew that the only thing we could do was play the hell out of the music and not worry about mishaps. On stage we usually invite mistakes and laugh about them, so we're used to playing loose, but for some reason, the Gods were with us, because we played out and still didn't get a lot of clams in the mix. It was just great fun. But to be honest, we took a track or two from the following performance in Geneva, just because on a few of the tunes there were some beautiful ethereal moments. So the CD is made up mostly of the Zurich performance with bits from Geneva. We also love working with Laurent Aubert, the concert producer for Ateliers d'ethnomusicologie in Geneva. He produced a concert for the first incarnation of Budowitz 10 years ago, when the audience jumped on the stage at the encore and we ended up playing an extra half hour for dancing in that posh theater, Cite Blue against fire regulations.
Did anyone dance or disturb the performance at Zurich?
No, but I think we edited out one whoop from a guy who thought he'd immortalize himself right before the first note of a piece we played. But we diced that out in the editing room. Otherwise, you know the Swiss are too well behaved. It’s almost a crime there not to replace a toilet roll, so it’s a good place to do a live recording.
Let's talk about your working methods. Three of you live in Budapest, one in Berlin and two in the U.S. How do you rehearse?
Well, we don't really. We used to be a "Fax Band" back in the 1990's, before you could send music by email. We'd basically notate sketches and send them to each other. We'd learn the tunes, then meet up at the hotel the night before the first gig of a tour and run through the music an hour and a half before the sound check. I guess that ensured a lot of improvisation on the stage, so our style was partially built on the foundation of necessity. The three Hungarians have played together for 20 years, so the basic rhythm section is a well-oiled machine.
When you listen closely to the music, there's a tremendous amount of variation. You hear the melody in three different ways at the same time and everyone seems to be winding around each other, then there are breaks and lines where the band is totally synchronized. Is any of that planned?
Not much. The tunes themselves have natural breaks and when someone throws an accent into the mix, everyone just kind of picks up on it and makes it part of the fabric of the tune. After you've played the tune a bit, those breaks and fills accumulate but everyone has a sense of proportion in terms of how much use they get. I think we know each other musically really well, so you get an idea of the different tastes and can predict or communicate on stage what the others will do and adjust your playing to that.
I remember with the second Budowitz CD "Wedding Without a Bride", that the entire CD flowed as one work, as if it were a symphony of many movements. You said then that this grew out of the form of the wedding itself, yet it’s amazing how the work was formed into a whole on the CD. This new live CD has the same quality. I listened to it the first time all the way through, and, although it has a tremendous amount of variation, it flows beautifully and seems to form a natural mobius strip from the last tune of the second CD back to the beginning of the first CD.
Yes, the CD's do have a form of their own. It’s nice that you were patient enough to listen through the whole thing to get the nuances. In the age of the 1-dollar-download you can forget how to listen to the larger forms.
I also noticed that the first CD is tremendously celebratory, while the second one has a slightly heavier feel to it, although the proportion of dance tunes to listening tunes seems to be about equal.
There are serious listening tunes in the first half as well, but yeah, we wanted the character to tip a bit toward the listening genres in the second CD, although there are some hopping dance tunes there too.
Each of the CDs is structured in 5 suites and you've given them supertitles referring to different Gubernias, or regions, where klezmer music was found. This is the first time I've seen this on a klezmer recording. On other CDs you typically see mixes of Sephardic and Klezmer, Jazz and Klezmer, Hip-hop and Klezmer etc, but actual stylistic differences between regions has never been shown before and certainly not used to structure the CD. Can you comment on that?
There are differences between, say, Polish Galitsiye and Bessarabia and Romanian Volakhay (Vallachia), and more drastically, Transylvania, which was not a Gubernia in the Jewish Pale of Settlement but has recently drawn attention in the klezmer world. The Szatmar Rebbe is fond of the Mezoszeg and Kalotaszeg styles that the Hungarians in Budowitz are masters of. So much of the music in klezmer music has gone through various cultural filters. For instance, you'll find a tune that began as a Turkish folk song that was copied by Gypsy Lautari in Vallachia, so that by the time it reached Jewish musicians, it had already been raked through Turkish, Romanian and Gypsy filters. Well, there is another kind of filter that happens in Transylvanian music: The Hungarian melodies and styles played in what is now Romania take on elements of Romanian, Gypsy and even Jewish gestures. You may even recognize patterns of melody that are used in a Christmas tune and a Hassidic Nign (wordless devotional tune). This stylistic melange fascinated Bartok and Kodaly, even though they weren't aware that Jewish music was a peripheral part of that mix. On the other hand, Klezmer groups today don't play Verbunks (CD1, Track 8) at least not any I have heard. That's a type of tune that was used by the military to recruit soldiers. They would go into the villages, get the locals drunk and dancing to these tunes in order to show them the jovial camaraderie of military life, then get them to enlist while they were still inebriated. Not exactly the kind of process Jews were easily lured into. But the melody contours can also be found in Nigunim. The German word for advertising "Werbung" is related to this Verbunk. The Jewish styles of, say, the Ukraine and Galitsiye take on characteristics of the music of those different regions and these are reflected in the suites we played, but we didn't treat this as an exercise - it’s a natural part of the music.
In your past records you've used the CD booklet as a means for conveying detailed essays packed with information. I've heard that the booklets have actually been used for University courses. But in this recording you've used the booklet primarily for oodles of photos.
Yes, the "age of information" seems to be getting old. People in the klezmer scene know so little about the actual folks in this band making the music. I wanted to celebrate the band itself in the booklet by giving a homegrown photo album of all of us. Besides, in spite of all of the misinformation circulating around about what klezmer music is, the general audience is pretty well informed. We don't have to give the obligatory blurb about the word klezmer being a hypenation of the Aramaic "kley-zemer" anymore and tell people that the Romanian Hora is the original 3/8 dance that came before the Israeli 2/4 Hora, blah, blah. People can Google the information themselves now. We've always viewed the booklet as its own entity. Something that is an added dimension and has its own life. Nevertheless, there still are 4 pages of text for this, but we almost voted in more pictures rather than using that space for writing. I guess we couldn't resist telling the listener at least something about the music. But I just love looking at pictures when I listen to music I love, so I wanted to give our audience that same experience. I also still love picture books.
The cover art is gorgeous, too.
Yeah, we love it. Emily Lubanko, who's been winning lots of art awards and is still in high school, designed and painted the outside cover. It’s an original watercolor, and we got her to do it while she's still affordable. The playfulness really matches the mood of the CD for us, and it literally splashes with energy. Did you notice the coincidence that there are 6 fish on the cover and six musicians? Pretty eerie, no?
How could I miss it? You also chose to use Klezmer-loshn for the language of some of the tunes. You're the first band to do this as far as I know. What kind of language is that?
It was a cryptic language used by klezmorim when they didn't want to be understood by the people around them. It is similar to Pig Latin, in that it reverses letters and syllables, and sometimes meanings. So the word Yiddish word Khupe (wedding canopy) becomes Pekho. We only use it to name tunes, but the words with the most amount of variants are words that have to do with sex, money and the law. It’s a fascinating language, and one that was an integral part of klezmer culture so it’s surprising that the hip clan of the klezmer scene don't refer to it.
There is an unusual retuned Fiddle piece on the first CD that Cookie Segelstein plays. How did she arrive at that and what's she doing exactly?
You mean the Doina Af Tsvey Strunes (Improvisation on two strings). Yeah, Cookie has really dealt intensively with alternate fiddle tunings, this one being ADEE. The two octave E's give the uncanny illusion of two fiddles playing. But it actually developed from the Turkish "Çiftetelli", which is also the name of a Turkish rhythm, as you know. It means double strings- "Çifte" means double, and "telli" means strings and refers to a style of tuning the violin whereby the two middle strings are loosened, and crossed over at the nut and bridge, so they are sitting in the opposite slots. Then they would be retuned a step lower so, from low to high, you would get G g D d. The strings are tuned octaves apart, so you can play phrases on the double string in octaves. It was popular among both Turkish and Greek Çiftetellis, and Jews used it as well, calling it by the Yiddish phrase. Cookie has explored other tunings as well, which we recorded in her trio, Veretski Pass with Stu Brotman, who turned her on to some Tatar retunings from the Crimean Peninsula.
The fast part sounds like a virtuosic etude.
Yes, there is a whole genre of pieces you find throughout Eastern Europe which are basically other instruments' imitation of the bagpipes. So you get this class of melodies that dip down to a low note, alternating back and forth between melody and drone, or pedal point. There are lots of different types of moving pedal points, and the violin lends itself well to this technique because you can use a low open string for the drone note and rock the bow back and forth to get it. It’s actually found in so many cultures on across the globe, not least of all in classical music. Baroque music is filled with it. But Cookie's version uses that drone-bagpipe thing with the retuned fiddle, so the effect is electrifying.
You basically have two violin soloists in the band. Cookie and Tamas Gombai. Is there any rivalry there?
Amazingly none. I don't get why. They're both top virtuosi, and yet they play off each other as if they've been just been through a Buddhist selflessness training retreat. Its fun to watch them trade octaves, play thirds against each other, play chords while the other solos, or just wail in the same octave.
Do they arrange their parts?
No, they don't, they just listen and respond on the set. Every once in awhile a section develops into a showpiece for one of the other, and what's great is that their styles are so different. Tamas, has a light feathery touch with delicate ornamentation, while Cookie digs into the wood it seems. But both of them play out to the max. Even when rehearsing, they put everything and more into their playing. It’s just lovely to watch.
How about the clarinet?
Christian is an amazing virtuoso. He seems to have an endless array of ornaments and unexpected turns of phrases, so every time he plays a tune it has something different that wasn't there before. In that way its almost a shame to release only one version of a tune he's played, because the next time he plays it, there will be a whole new battery of phrases and subtleties. His playing on the Tkhine fun Yas (CD2, Track 10) is so subtle, and I just love the micro-variations he does.
Sandor, the 3-string viola player also plays Baraban (drum). This is the first recording where you use a drum. Have you avoided it till now?
No, not at all. We just never thought of it, believe it or not. And Satya (Sandor) also plays Cobza (Romanian Lute) and dances too. Even though we knew that he has all those abilities, we kept him on 3-string viola till now. His rhythm fills out the room, and sometimes I've listened to our recordings, and depending on how they've been mixed, you'd think you'd hear a hard driving acoustic guitar sometimes. He's a blast on the stage, looks like a thug and makes all kinds of faces, but he's a lamb in wolves clothing. We call him the grandma of the group because he does the cooking most of the time on tour. He and Cookie talk about Chicken Paprikash as if it were the family business.
And Zsolt, the bass and cello player seems to be the Buddha of the group.
Yeah that's true. The three Hungarians are the house band for the Fono club in Budapest, and that's the name of their group, which Zsolt heads. He's a gentle father figure who keeps everything together, not only musically. His bass playing is legendary. He just doesn't miss a beat, and seems to have a telepathic ability to sense subtle rhythmic and tempo changes before they happen. You can hear it on the record; say when we go into the Budowitzer Sher on CD 2. Christian decided to pull back the tempo rather than forge ahead with it, which was a delightful effect, and Zsolt was there without blinking an eye. Also on the Tkhine fun Yas he and Satya play a Düvö rhythm, which uses a style of bowing whereby the bow doesn't leave the string and there is an undulating quality to the accompaniment. It underscores those slow meditations so well, without sacrificing forward rhythmic movement. We used it on the Wedding Without a Bride CD in one of the slow prayers. Zsolt and Satya act as a unit when playing that style, so it’s hard to even distinguish between the two instruments sometimes.
You play an accordion doina on CD 2, Track 12, which isn't like other doinas I've heard on klezmer records. What are you doing there?
It actually turned out to be a kind of "triple doina” like the triple concerti of the classical world, which develop three separate themes. There are three kinds of doinas I used and developed there. A Russian violinist I taught in Kiev a few years ago, when he heard me play a similar doina then, said that he thought it sounded Impressionistic. I liked that description, because I love that period of music and could see why he thought that. There are some parallel harmonies moving by half steps and some unusual modulations that cover a lot of ground, but the melody forms are based on some very old Romanian and Jewish prototypes.
And you also played another the Theme and Variations on the Tsimbl on this record. Wedding Without a Bride features one that I think you said has over 10 variations.
I don’t remember exactly, but yes, I love that form, as it gives me a chance to really explore the potential of a melody and develop the specific timbres of the instrument through it. The improvisation before the theme is based on some liturgical and cantorial gestures, but the theme itself is one of those klezmer standards that actually hardly ever gets played. But my friend Isaak Loberan from Kishenev had a printed version of this tune called "Elf" (eleven) attributed to the 19th Century Klezmer violin virtuoso and composer, Pedotser. It was notated as a Sirba (Romanian dance in 6/8) which differed from the recorded versions I'd heard in 2/4, and the third section has lots of variants, so I just fashioned my own from the ones I knew. I kept the lion's share of the variations in 6/8. The tune had some salty lyrics put to it, I think under the Soviets, but I'm not sure where they came from.
There are four large Shers on the CD and a really long Hora, which you even acknowledge with the name "Groyse Hora.".Will people actually dance to these?
Yes, we work a lot with dance leaders and there has been a tremendous resurgence of both the Sher and the slow Horas in the past few years. Both Veretski Pass and Budowitz Shers get used a lot so we thought we'd replenish the repertoire with more unknown stuff. The Shers have to be long, as the figures are complex and take a long time to complete, so we crafted a few of those that cover a lot of musical ground. As for the Horas, we noticed that most groups tend to play one or maybe two Horas repeated endlessly for the whole dance, so we used a chain of wedding Horas that we added our own parts to in order to make a long kaleidoscopic sort of "mega-Hora". I think this could go on record as the longest Hora in Klezmer history, so dance leaders might like it.
Both CDs end with a lullaby, yet the first one doesn't sound a bit like a lullaby, but rather a powerfully emotional anthem that seems to go higher and higher and just when you think it can't go any further, it goes another step up; and the second has an unearthly, dreamy atmosphere, which literally seems to lay the listener down to sleep.
Yeah, we were joking about composing a bagpipe lullaby and Cookie came up with the idea that we could play one that not only doesn't put you to sleep because it is a klezmer band playing it, but we could actually turn it into a dance melody. She used an old Romanian lullaby that just sort of formed itself into that tune which then took on a life of its own. Both of the lullabies we recorded here have a hemiole cross rhythm (two against three) in the last section, which we realized later added unity to the two halves of the concert. You know, the "classical" form of the Klezmer suite is a free-metered piece which gives way to a slow Hora in 3/8, which then moves to a fast Frelakh dance in 2/4 meter. That's a formula, just like the Allegro-Andante-Minuet-Trio-Finale form of the classical symphony. But in the suite that ends CD 1, we turn the form upside down, with the slow lullaby-Hora thing interrupting the fast tune and ending the suite. The effect is more powerful than if we had ended the suite with the fast tune. The end of the second CD was also arranged by Cookie. She took two old Romanian lullabies and combined them into a piece which was so dreamy and lovely it just seems to come from a different world altogether.
CHRISTIAN DAWID C-Clarinet
Considered one of today's leading klezmer clarinetists. Classical music studies in Germany, performances in various chamber music ensembles, theaters and opera houses. Arranger and composer, international live performances and radio productions of numerous original classical works. Co-founder of the renowned European duo, Khupe. Performances and collaborations with many leading artists of the klezmer revival, including Brave Old World, Veretski Pass, Warschauer/Strauss Duo, Klezmatics, Shura Lipovsky, Theodore Bikel, Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg. Teacher at international festivals and academies, such as KlezKanada, Klezmerwochen Weimar, KlezFest St Petersburg, KlezFest London, and KlezKamp. Christian lives in Berlin, Germany.
TAMAS GOMBAI Violin
Born in Dunaujváros, Hungary. Classical studies at the Béla Bartók Academy of Music and the Musical Faculty of the Lóránd Eötvös University. Degree in Music Education. Specialist in the music of the Carpathian Basin and Eastern Europe. Member of the Hegedös Ensemble, Hungary since 1994. Featured Guest Artist with the renowned Lindsays Quartet in Sheffield England with the Hegedös Ensemble. On and off-stage musician with the Hungarian National Theatre. Choir leader. Ongoing participant in Hungarian and International Music Festivals. MC: Ujstilus: Vásárfia; CD: Hegedös: Sok szép napot éjszakával; The Rough Guide To Klezmer; Budowitz: Wedding Without A Bride. Tamas lives in Budapest, Hungary.
JOSHUA HOROWITZ Accordion & Tsimbl
Joshua received his Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Academy of Music in Graz, Austria, where he taught Music Theory and served as Research Fellow and Director of the Klezmer Music Research Project for eight years. He is the founder and director of the ensemble Budowitz, and performs with Veretski Pass, Rubin & Horowitz, Brave Old World, Adrienne Cooper and Ruth Yaakov. Joshua taught Advanced Jazz Theory at Stanford University and is a regular teacher at KlezKamp, The Albuquerque Academy and KlezKanada. His musicological work is featured in four books, including The Sephardic Songbook with Aron Saltiel and The Ultimate Klezmer, and he has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach. His recordings with Budowitz, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra, Rubin & Horowitz, Alicia Svigals, Adrianne Greenbaum, and Fialke have achieved international recognition. He is the recipient of more than 40 awards, including the Prize of Honor for his orchestral composition, Tenebrae, presented by the Austrian government. Joshua recently moved from the Bay Area to Madison, Connecticut.
ZSOLT KURTOSI Cello, Bass
Born in Budapest. Classical piano studies at the Ferenc Liszt Academy of Music. Piano instructor from 1977-1980. Member of the Hungarian Army Folk Dance Group since 1979. Member of the renowned folk music ensemble, Hegedös, since 1984 with worldwide performances in South America, Mexico, Russia, the UK and Europe. International performances on double-bass and 'cello. On and off-stage musician with the Hungarian National Theatre since 1984. Numerous film score performances. Collaborations with Márta Sebestyén and Katalin Szvorák. LP's: Hegedös; Tündérkert: Hungarian and Rumanian Folk Music From Transylvania; Fele-más: Folk Music From The Carpathian Basin; CD's: Hegedös: Last Inventory; Hegedös: All The Good Days And Nights; The Rough Guide To Klezmer; Budowitz: Wedding Without A Bride. Zsolt lives in Budapest, Hungary.
COOKIE SEGELSTEIN Violin & Viola
Cookie performs with Joshua Horowitz in the trio Veretski Pass, and recently joined Budowitz. She received a Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She is principal violist in Orchestra New England and assistant principal in The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Cookie teaches klezmer fiddling at Living Traditions' KlezKamp, Centrum's Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and teaches a klezmer class at Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. She has performed with The Klezical Tradition, Henry Sapoznik and The Youngers of Zion, The Klezmatics, Klezmer Fats, and Swing with Pete Sokolow and the late Howie Leess, Kapelye, Margot Leverett, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band. She has presented lecture demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the country, including at Yale University, University of Wisconsin in Madison, University of Oregon in Eugene, Pacific University, and SUNY-Cortland. Cookie lives in Madison, Connecticut.
SANDOR TOTH 3-string Contra-Viola
Born in Kiskunfélegyháza, Hungary. Has studied and played Hungarian folk music since 1982. Member of the group, Méta from 1985-1987. Member of the Hegedös Ensemble and the Hungarian Army Folk Ensemble with worldwide performances in South America, Mexico, Russia, the UK and Europe since 1987. On and off-stage musician for the Hungarian National Theatre since 1987. Regular participant in Hungarian Dance House CDs/LPs: Hegedös: Tündérkert - Hungarian and Rumanian Folk Music From Transylvania, 1988; Fele-más: Folk Music From The Carpathian Basin, 1993; Last Inventory; Hegedös: All The Good Days And Nights, 1998; The Rough Guide To Klezmer; Budowitz: Wedding Without A Bride. Sandor lives in Budapest, Hungary.
"Budowitz are surely the best band playing old-time Jewish instrumental music from Eastern Europe around right now....Throughout the disc the music is raw and gutsy – played with great artistry and a sense of fun." - Simon Broughton, Songlines July/August 2007, Top of the World Album, Complete Review
between band members is delicious. ...this is a set that was worth waiting seven
years for." - George Robinson, March 23 2007, Jewish Week
"insanely great live recording" - Ari Davidow, KlezmerShack
"Its just beautiful the way the single pieces flow into and out of each other, how the separate instruments and their musicians harmonize with each other and how they play the pieces with such sensitivity. What should I say? The Cd is a must have for those new to Klezmer as well as for those who have been their fans for years." Günther Schöller, www.klezmerlog.de
"A MUST!", Jewish Music Web Center www.jmwc.org
"That Budowitz album is a knockout - so many types of tunes and energy. Thanks!", Professor Mark Slobin, Wesleyan University
"The music is really fantastic.", Dan Blacksberg
"I LOVE it! Budowitz
is an inspiration.", Patti Pacheco Gregg
"In the huge horse pond of the klezmer scene, sometimes the true pearls are obscured. Budowitz is such a pearl. Their traditional music sounds quite radical: infused with oriental sounds, often dissonant, with razor sharp melodies. The musicians play all of the ancient instruments with unbelievable emotional power and sensuality, allowing the music to lament and to well up with joy. Swiss Radio has made possible this new recording, which is absolutely heroic!", Christoph Wagner, Wochenzeitung, May 25 2007
"Eight Jewish albums hit high notes in '07": Budowitz: "Live" (Golden Horn). "A decade or so ago, the klezmer revival pushed the pendulum from the New World to the Old Country, and an increasing number of bands began to explore music driven by violin and cymbal, rather than brass and reeds. Budowitz was one of the spearheads of that new approach. This all-instrumental, double-CD live set, recorded in Switzerland in late November 2005, is a superbly played introduction to that sound for those who are not yet familiar with it. The bulk of the 33 selections are traditional tunes arranged by band members, with seven originals that blend in quite nicely. If you didn't look at the track listings, you wouldn't know which songs were written in the 21st century and which were handed down through generations. Budowitz draws its repertoire from across the map of Jewish Eastern and Central Europe, and there isn't a stale tune in the bunch. This is a set worth a seven-year wait." George Robinson, Jewish Journal