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Classical Music Review

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A Bissel Rhythm


Composer: Paul Green
Performed by: Paul Green & Two Worlds
Label: Big Round Records
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 08 February 2019

A Bissel Rhythm is composer and clarinetist Paul Green’s second exploration into the fusion between jazz and Jewish music, although his first for Big Round Records. Even if you're not familiar with the genre, you may spot the occasional familiar tune here and there as Green reworks some classic tracks, presenting them in a fresh and interesting way...

The album opens with the title track, 'A Bissel Rhythm', a reworking of the George Gershwin standard, 'I Got Rhythm'. Already interpreted by such astounding jazz players as Charlie Parker and Sonny Rollins, Green turns the song into a Jewish expression by using traditional Hebrew scales, placing it in a minor Jewish-sounding key, and giving it a joyful, freilach (merry) fast tempo.

'My Own Freilach' should be familiar to anyone who has ever attended a Jewish wedding or bar mitzvah. Here, it is performed at near breakneck speed, leaving it to the players to see who can maintain the pace, whether they’re playing the tune as written or improvising their own licks.

With 'Doina and Ramble', the composer reimagines the funeral traditions of New Orleans, by placing the Doina, a klezmer form, in the context of an imagined New Orleans funeral. In this tradition, the slow funeral song would be followed by a joyful performance, which Green depicts in his piece 'Ramble'.

'The Jewish March' harkens back to the time when Jewish musicians in Russia were often prohibited from playing loud instruments. When those musicians arrived in America, they let loose with drums, wind, and brass instruments. 'The Jewish March' is a recreation of an early 20th century piece, complete with drum rolls – courtesy of Peter Sweeney – and plenty of loud, exuberant playing.

These 8 tracks (46 min) represent a refreshing and uplifting take on familiar pieces.


Darren Rea

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