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London Klezmer Quartet - To the Tavern (Proper Records)

For newcomers to the term, Klezmer refers to a form of music associated with Eastern European Jews but while eminent musicologists may debate and indeed argue over the exact roots of the genre, the more sensible amongst us will just listen and enjoy. Having first played this album in a car full of musicians, the review quickly took on a life of its own. While acting as an introduction to Klezmer to several of the passengers, it met with immediate and universal approval, which is not necessarily the case with all vehicular located listening choices. The comments received echoed and confirmed everything that may already have been written or said about the five people who make up the quartet (check out their website maths fans). From the virtuosity of the individual members to the quality of the arrangements, the vibrancy of the performances, the whole album was a shared delight and went on a quickly requested repeat.

The latter point is worth exploring, in that the album lasted much of the journey from a meeting point in Warrington to downtown Oswestry, comprising 17 tracks (albeit containing a welcome reprise of first track, Dobridden, at the end), reflecting the Klezmer experience in all its moods – from sorrow to exuberance, despair to joy, with room for playfulness and humour.

Highlights are almost too many to mention but the perfect timing of The Summertime Waltz was much admired and Susi Evans drew particular praise for her clarinet contribution to The Inn Keeper's Wife and her foot tapping part in Clackety-Clack Bulgar as both brought expressions of delight from the back seat.

The LKQ are 8 years young, have a deservedly worldwide presence and this, their 4th release, is ostensibly a concept album, telling the story of a klezmer band's 24 hours in a small town, although we will have to take their word for It. Where songs feature vocals, Indra Buraczewska delivers with both depth and beauty but the lyrics are impenetrable to those of us with a restricted linguistic range – not that this detracts from the overall experience. There is even a jazz tinged intro that just hints at the arrival of Tom Waits but his non-appearance is quickly overlooked as the music flows ever onward.

A more lyrical companion described the album as containing 'music the texture of twilight' and while that meaning may be equally obscure, it does sum it up perfectly.

Take some friends for a drive with the London Klezmer Quartet, if they don't thank you, find new friends.

Damian Liptrot
Northern Sky