Dan Blacksberg – Radiant Others (2017)

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Yes, this is about another contemporary klezmer record, but it’s far from the run-of-your-mill contemporary klezmer record (if such a thing even exists). Trombonist Dan Blacksberg has long been intensely interested in bringing old-style Jewish folk music into new vistas and like other progressive jazz musicians before him, he’s succeeded in making something very modern out of something very vintage.

Radiant Others is a collection of either traditional klezmer songs or originals that are in the same vein. What makes this album out of the ordinary is that Blacksberg’s trombone — with sparse accompaniment — is the lead instrument, something that probably hadn’t been attempted before. And you know what? It’s a great match because klezmer music can be passionate, mournful or exuberant and in the right hands, the trombone excels at delivering those emotions. Blacksberg has the goods and it didn’t come by happenstance, it came from intense study of Ashkenazi Jewish music and developing a unique vocabulary from that source for the trombone.

Check out a tune by Dave Tarras, “South Fallsburg Bulgar” (streamed above) with Nick Millevoi on guitar. Blacksberg’s brass acts as vocal part but with more character, as Millevoi functions as the rhythm section. With only the two, the song feels complete. Blacksberg overdubs himself for the dirge-y “Doina”, giving his original a stately aura. On the wistful “Tal,” he trades testimonials with Millevoi’s barbed tones. By contrast, “Bearish Katz” and “Perle” are buoyant dance tunes…Ashkenazi dance tunes, that is.

To Dan Blacksberg, Radiant Others might be a studious stab at doing something creatively different with traditional klezmer music but to the listener it’s a fresh, nontraditional take on traditional melodies that happens to be Jewish in origin. You don’t need to be an ethnomusicologist to enjoy this one.

*** Purchase Dan Blacksberg’s Radiant Others ***

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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