Blue Box

Wednesday, October 19th, 2016

Documentary examines Zionism’s history, future

Two Jewish American directors, Joseph Dorman (Arguing the World) and Oren Rudavsky (A Life Apart: Hasidism in America), combined their talents to write, produce and direct Colliding Dreams (available on DVD from Kino Lorber), which examines Zionism and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Even at 134 minutes, a film tracing the disintegration of the Jewish diaspora in […]

Wednesday, October 5th, 2016

Heifetz CD set displays violin virtuoso’s magic

Jascha Heifetz (1901-1987) is widely considered to be the greatest violinist of all time. Itzhak Perlman, no slouch himself on the fiddle, called Heifetz “God.” You can judge for yourself — and perhaps start with The Magic of Jascha Heifetz (Song Classical), a three-CD set of the maestro’s late recordings remastered with the latest digital […]

Monday, September 12th, 2016

New album celebrates Theodore Bikel’s life

St. Paul-based Red House Records celebrates the extraordinary life and career of Theodore Bikel (1924-2015), actor, musician and social justice activist, with a two-CD set, While I’m Here. The package includes one CD of Bikel’s music, 17 songs sung in English, Hebrew, Yiddish, French, etc. The other disc is entirely spoken word, with Bikel telling […]

Wednesday, August 24th, 2016

Michael Bloomfield’s rise and fall chronicled

The son of a wealthy Jewish Chicago businessman, Michael Bloomfield learned guitar from the masters in South Side joints (Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Little Walter, et al.), and became a seminal figure in the development of blues-rock guitar. Ed Ward expands and revises his 1983 bio, and essentially creates a new work with Michael Bloomfield: […]

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016

Fred Hersch Trio delights with new CD

Last year, we reviewed a solo album by jazz piano virtuoso Fred Hersch (9-25-15 AJW). The acclaimed improviser has followed up that satisfying achievement with a trio recording, Sunday Night at the Vanguard (Palmetto), which is packed full of wondrous musical moments. As the album title indicates, Hersch — along with bassist John Hébert and […]

Thursday, July 28th, 2016

Nefesh Mountain plays Old-Time Jewish music

A number of musicians have wed Jewish melodies to American bluegrass music. Mandolin and clarinet virtuoso Andy Statman bends Jewish liturgical tunes to bluegrass. And clarinetist Margo Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys perform a repertoire of klezmer and bluegrass songs. Now comes Nefesh Mountain — married musicians Doni Zasloff, vocals, and Eric Lindberg, vocals, […]

Wednesday, July 13th, 2016

Peter Bernstein stays loose and lyrical

Peter Bernstein, an acclaimed jazz guitarist, interprets his own tunes and some standards on his new album, Let Loose (Smoke Sessions Records). The fleet and lyrical guitarist and his longtime collaborators, bassist Doug Weiss and drummer Bill Stewart, are joined here by Gerald Clayton, a brilliant young pianist who has played the Dakota in recent […]

Wednesday, June 29th, 2016

Short stories touch on sex and death

Rebecca Schiff’s short stories collected in The Bed Moved (Knopf) generally revolve around themes of sex and death. They’re from the perspective of a young Jewish woman. She is having sex in the same room again — the previous tenant collected banjos; or she’s at a shiva in New Jersey, where her aunts collect coats […]

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016

Semer Ensemble revives lost music

Amid a “Golden Age of Jewish Music,” in Berlin, Hersch Lewin, who ran a shop selling books, Judaica and gramophone records, founded his own label, Semer, in 1932. The timing was bad, as the Nazis came to power a year later and banned Jewish musicians performing in non-Jewish settings. Sixty years later, musicologist Dr. Rainer […]

Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

Anat Fort entrances with ‘Birdwatching’

Israeli jazz pianist Anat Fort’s third album for ECM, Birdwatching, features her regular trio mates — bassist Gary Wang and drummer Roland Schneider — and welcomes guest reeds player Gianluigi Trovesi. Fort’s solo piano journeys here — on “It’s Your Song,” “Meditation for a New Year” — are beautiful and spellbinding. The ethereal mood is […]