Brother Moses Smote the Water, CD
The Klezmatics have always chosen the path less traveled in its 20 years as a band. And with a variety of lefty political messages injected into traditional klezmer music, there's no disputing its reputation as radical. This live effort is a collaboration with guest singers Joshua Nelson and Kathryn Farmer joining in on the fun. The Newark, New Jersey-based Nelson brings (believe it or not) a serious gospel music flair to four songs, turning the klezmer band into a fire-and-brimstone gospel group as he exhorts both the players and the crowd on songs like gospel standard "Walk Into Jerusalem." The remarkable pairing is more balanced on the rest of the album, but never better than on "Shnirele, Perele," a duet featuring Nelson and Klezmatics singer Lorin Sklamberg that has an ecstatic drama that bridges these seemingly contradictory religious cultures. The album's eight new songs and two hits is as good a collection yet produced by this band, and one of the most remarkable examples of genre-bending heard in years.