Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra – East Atlanta Passover Stomp (2009): Half Notes

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photo: Fourth Ward AKO myspace page

Out of Atlanta comes a large band of a very different kind: a ten-piece group that is built on the idea of combining afrobeat and klezmer music. Though they are more of a local outfit, they’ve gotten the attention and praise of musical tastemakers all over America and even across the pond. They descriptively call themselves the Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra, and the hybrid of sounds may be odd, even humorous at times, but it’s no gimmick. Along with the African and Hebrew influences are healthy doses of jazz, rock, and R&B. There’s even a hint of the Crusaders’ soul-jazz lurking around in this flavorful sonic stew. For a band that brings together so many music forms in such a large ensemble, they somehow figured out how to make it so accessible. There’s surely a lot of reasons for this, like smart arrangements that adeptly straddle the line between too loose and too strictly charted, or the musicianship of the individual players, who can both mesh together and improvise with equal aplomb. Another is that both afro-pop and klezmer music are really ethnic party music. When you put two kinds of party music together it’s twice the fun. From the marching band stride of “Greater Lagos Wed. Night Talmud Meeting” to the Yiddish-flavored jazz fusion of the title cut (see video of live performance below), they find near endless possibilities to exploit their unique formula. Even when the music is mournful such as the “9th Ward Dirge,” it’s entertaining because it’s just as brassy and culturally vivid as the more exuberant songs.

With East Atlanta Passover Stomp causing a stir, Atlanta’s secret weapon is no secret anymore. Visit Fourth Ward Afro-Klezmer Orchestra’s website here.

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S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron

S. Victor Aaron is an SQL demon for a Fortune 100 company by day, music opinion-maker at night. His musings are strewn out across the interwebs on jazz.com, AllAboutJazz.com, a football discussion board and some inchoate customer reviews of records from the late 1990s on Amazon under a pseudonym that will never be revealed. E-mail him at svaaron@somethingelsereviews .com or follow him on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SVictorAaron
S. Victor Aaron

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