Richard Wagner & The Klezmer Band

18/11/2022Yuriy Gurzhy Explores The New Jewish Sounds Of Germany To Accompany First Book

Ever since Russia unleashed its senseless imperialistic fury on neighbouring Ukraine some 268 days ago, our dear friend Yuriy Gurzhy (The Disorientalists) has become a voice of the local cultural resistance and extremely active on all artistic fronts. Originally from Kharkiv yet based in Berlin, the multitalented musician, former DJ of the legendary "Russendisko" party series and co-founder of multilingual Berlin band RotFront began writing a regular 'war diary' for Berlin's Tagesspiegel newspaper, initiated a defiant counterattack on the 'Russian Warship' with his Anti-Dicktators to raise money for a Ukrainian relief fund and also published his first book Titled "Richard Wagner & die Klezmerband – auf der Suche nach dem neuen Jüdischen Sound in Deutschland", exploring the new Jewish Sounds of Germany. Just recently, said book has seen an accompanying soundtrack release and that, dear friends, is where we come in. 

In his book, Yuriy embarks on an exploration of Jewish life in the here and now and particularly of what it means to be Jewish in 21st century Germany. When questioned as to why he had chosen to mention "the avowed anti-Semite" Richard Wagner and "the traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding music" klezmer in the title, he responded: "This is just my little revenge on Wagner, because his anti-Semitism is also a cliché. And for many musicians and music listeners, klezmer is also a cliché and a synonym for Jewish music, although there is much more to it than that." And while he "deliberately refuses to give a clear definition of what Jewish music actually is," both the book and the accompanying CD compilation pave the way to "an open and exciting musical discourse." Yuriy does, however add that for him, "Jewish music was, first and foremost, the music that my grandfather played to me on his record player when I was a child in Kharkiv."

Yuriy's "Richard Wagner & the Klezmer Band" sampler comprises 17 contemporary tracks written and composed with the multiplicity of Jewish identity in mind, offering readers and listeners an idea of what Jewish music of the 21st century might sound like. Opening on a scintillating "Carmen" variation presented by German-Jewish chansonnière Vivian Kanner (watch below), the collection includes diverse musical contributions by Canadian singer-songwriter Geoff Berner, Berlin-based klezmer band Daniel Kahn & the Painted Bird, multi-national Berlin klezmer outfit You Shouldn't Know From It, Tel Aviv's Jewrhythmics, US sound artist Paul Brody's Sadawi ensemble, Violinist Sophie Solomon and Canadian rapper/producer Socalled, Berlin-based Yiddish pop-punk combo Fayvish, German-Israeli singer Maya Saban and her band Jewdyssee, Yuriy's own band RotFront, Latvian Yiddish psych-rock outfit forshpil, our very own Jewish Monkeys, Yuriy's The Disorientalists, Munich-based singer of Slovenian heritage Andrea Pancur, 'crazy ass jews' Yahoodi and addsomesauceJIN, Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars and, last but not least, Belgrade's ShazaLaKazoo with Edi Partizani. 

You can now stream the full playlist via the Spotify embed player below or head directly to Yuriy's channel, find the CD here and the book here

AUTHOR: Lev Nordstrom