Ottawa Jewish Bulletin

Chassidic music re-imagined by Breslov Bar Band

Band leader Binyomin Ginzberg, a well-known musician and singer on New York’s Jewish music scene, founded the Breslov Bar Band as an outlet to explore the songs and tunes of the Breslov Chassidim – the only Chassidic group, according to Ginzberg, currently producing new music “that is intensely personal and stylistically unique.”

The Breslov music on this album – some of it recent, some from earlier centuries, some of it instrumental, some with religious lyrics or sung as wordless nigunim – is creatively re-imagined by the Breslov Bar Band, five musicians steeped in klezmer, rock, jazz, reggae and world music. Ginzberg, who plays standard keyboards and vibrandoneon, a small mouth-blown keyboard, is joined by electric guitarist Allen Watsky, electric bassist Yoshie Fruchter, clarinetist Mike Cohen and drummer Rich Huntley – inventive musicians all.

There’s a remarkable range of music in this set from meditative pieces like “Adir Ayom,” to the full throttle rock ‘n’ roll religious devotion expressed in “Ani Ohev Et HKB’H,” to the reggae of “Mi Yiten,” a Communist-era lament of Breslov Chassidim forbidden to travel to the gravesite of Rabbi Nachman of Breslov, the sect’s founding rebbe, to the more traditional klezmer approach of “Debka Medley.”

Reviewed by Michael Regenstreif, March 21, 2011.

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