Hasidic New Wave - The Complete Recordings (2012)

Hasidic New Wave was a group founded in the mid-'90s by saxophonist Greg Wall and trumpeter Frank London. The pair had studied together at the New England Conservatory of Music, and later played together in Hasidic wedding bands to financially support themselves while indulging their love of jazz, avant-garde, klezmer, niggunim, and other musics with various bands in New York on the weekends. Along the way, they found a way to translate the energy of the Hasidic melodies and their love of free jazz, funk, rock, and more, into Hasidic New Wave. The group's other stable members included Aaron Alexander, Fima Ephron, and David Fiuczynski. The band began playing in earnest the same year -- 1993 -- that John Zorn had founded Tzadik; they instantly fit into his Radical Jewish Culture project, and the rest is history. Included in this beautiful box are all four of the group's original albums -- Jews and the Abstract Truth, Psycho-Semitic, Kabalogy, and From the Belly of Abraham (an album issued in collaboration with Alioune Faye and Yakar Rhythms). The fifth disc assembles live and rare recordings. The first two of these eight tracks feature the earliest incarnation of the band with Shlomo Deshet on drums and Bentsi Gaffni on electric bass, playing live in Köln, Germany in 1993. Especially noteworthy is "New York Debkas," for its experiments with tone, mode, and rhythm. The next three cuts also feature Sarah Parkins on violin and Fred Lonberg-Holm on cello. Recorded live at the Knitting Factory, these are tunes of exceptional energy, varying textures, and outstanding group interplay (check HNW + Strings' "Al-Asfour Al-Majnoun"). The final three tunes are unreleased studio recordings with the last quintet with Fiuczynski, Ephron, and Alexander. While any of these selections could have been used on the records they recorded together, it is "Holem Tza'adi" (recorded to benefit the Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society) that stands out for its variation, slow modal opening, and explosive middle section. It is housed in the usual excellent Tzadik packaging, with extensive liner notes (original notes, cover art, etc., are included too). What's most remarkable, however, is how fresh and exciting and forward-thinking this music sounds two decades later and realizing once more how totally influential it has been. --- Thom Jurek

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