Klezmer fiddlers Lean and Baruch Schwartz were brothers. As siblings often do, the Schwartzes would assess each other’s talents – comparing, contrasting and competing.
Leon, who had studied classical violin after growing up as a folk fiddler in the Bukovina, considered his style as “mer kinstlich” (more artsy) as compared to his brother’s style which he called “mer tsigaynish” (more Gypsy).
The same could be said about Jonathan Dinkin’s two recordings.
The Syracuse composer’s first CD, Naches (1999), is clearly mer kinstlich as compared to his new disc, Lily’s Hora, an unabashedly mer tsigaynish production.
While Naches respectfully explored a wide range of Jewish musical styles, Lily’s Hora simply revels in the pleasures of klezmer.
Jonathan Dinkin & Klezmercuse will perform at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 17, at the Fayetteville Free Library, 300 Orchard St. Admission is free. The concert is part of the library’s series of Motto Sheet Music Collection Sunday Musicales; fayettevillefreelibrary.org.
Just as music was a family tradition for the Schwartz brothers, so it is with the Dinkins. While he plays keyboards on the new CD Jonathan’s wife, Aveeya, adds vibrant vocals to five of the disc’s tracks. The jacket’s cover art is a cartoon by Jonathan’s late father, Isador, and the album itself is named for his mother, Lily.
While the composer honors his family with Lily’s Hora, Dinkin also honors his band, Klezmercuse, by showcasing the musicians’ individual talents.
As compared to Naches, this disc’s folkier feel is largely due to the band’s welcome addition of fiddler Judy Cohen Stanton. Not only does Judy play a festive fiddle, she also contributes an original tune with the tongue-in-cheek title, “Mishpucha Meshugas” (“My Crazy Family”), and she helped to produce the disc’s 24 tracks.
Jonathan Dinkin wisely writes tunes which well fit his musicians. They, in turn, reward him with spirited performances which bring his written work to life on the bandstand.
The rhythm section – pianist Dinkin, accordionist Judy Schmid, guitarist Art Bronstein and drummer Mark Wolfe – keep the dance beats jumping while the fiddler weaves her magic in the higher ranges along with Mike Fixler on clarinet and saxophone.
Euphonium player Sam Young goes above and beyond the call of tuba-duty. His horn often engages in a fetching call-and-response with other instruments.
It’s sheer joy to listen to a band blossom the way Klezmercuse has on this recording. One of its loveliest incarnations is heard in Aveeya Dinkin’s vocals. Her husband-composer writes to her strengths as a singer and she responds in kind with happy and heartfelt readings of numbers such as “Mazel Tov Nigun” and “Aveeya’s Nigun.” Aveeya also sings “Oy Mame,” a delightful ditty culled from the bygone days of Yiddish theater.