Rainlore's World of Music

Have No Fear CD Review

Breslov Bar Band's debut album Have No Fear has recently been released on jewishmusician.com. The band is the latest project of keyboardist and vibrandoneonist Binyomin Ginzberg and specialises in exploring the music of the Breslov Chassidim, both traditional and contemporary, in its own contemporary idiom.

Ginzberg, a sought-after artist and bandleader on the NY Simcha scene who has also been on the faculty of KlezKamp, has assembled such notables as Kleztraphobix bandleader and clarinetist Mike Cohen, and guitarist Allen Watsky (David Krakauer, SoCalled) for Breslov Bar Band, along with Yoshie Fruchter on bass and Rich Huntley on drums. Quite a formidable line-up then, and judging by this debut album, a formidable new band.

The material on Have No Fear is broadly representative of Breslov Bar Band's wide repertoire, ranging from the melancholy and meditative to exuberant Breslov folk and rock. The arrangements and interpretations lean towards funk and a very contemporary idiom, without ever losing the spiritual undertones and overtones of the Breslov material. Ginzberg's vibrandoneon - a mouth-blown variation of the classic bandoneon invented by Italian jazz musician Guido Tononi in 2000 - fits like hand-in-glove with its sweet, almost melancholy sound where it is used. Cohen also makes effective use of the bass clarinet, although adding some more chalumeau here and there would have helped lift it out a bit more. Watsky's guitar is particularly driven on Ani Ohev Et HKB"H, in a fine, classic rock style.

Despite the generally thoroughly modern sound, Have No Fear remains wonderfully accessible throughout and proves irresistible, whether or not you are specifically into Chassidic music. The album is totally consistent and compelling, with not a weak track anywhere, and singling out a favourite would be impossible. I have to confess I'm thoroughly hooked on this outstanding and highly enjoyable album. It's infectious!

Breslov Bar Band's Have No Fear fits into any good music collection and indeed ought to have a place in any good general world music collection. In any kind of contemporary Jewish music collection, whether specifically Chassidic or not, Have No Fear surely is beyond essential. This really is one of those "must-have" albums that you'll find yourself returning to again and again.

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