‘Spanish Odyssey’ duo blends chamber music, jazz and klezmer.
Special To The Jewish Week
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The guitar rings like chimes, sounding almost celestial. The bowed lines of the double-bass sigh like a human voice, yearning. The textures and timbres that come out of the instruments are as rich and full as those of a much larger ensemble. It is, quite simply, an enchantingly beautiful sound.
Seventy years ago this week, four women prisoners took part in an act of heroic resistance at Auschwitz, for which they were later hanged. Ala Gertner, Roza Robota, Regina Szafirsztajn, and Estera Wajcblum, all Polish Jews, were instrumental in smuggling gunpowder from a munitions factory to leaders of the underground in Birkenau, the adjacent camp. Their co-conspirators managed to blow up a crematorium, damaging it beyond repair so it was never used again.
The all women’s Hasidic Rock band Bulletproof Stockings have got some competition. Zusha, self-described as a “neo-Hasidic” rock band formed in the East Village, is poised to enter the Hasid-hipster scene with the release of their debut album on October 28th. The three-man band describes their sound as “a unique blend of jazz, reggae, folk, ska, gypsy swing and traditional Jewish soul.” Stay tuned for Zusha’s EP Release Show in lower Manhattan on October 26th.
There’s a lively contradiction at work in Basya Schechter’s music. On the one hand, as the singer-songwriter and leader of Pharaoh’s Daughter says, “I love the pentatonic scales; they’re sweet and mournful and yearning.” On the other hand, as her excellent new album, “Dumiyah” (Magenta), reminds a listener, one of the great strengths of her music is the clarity, poise and above all, the simplicity with which she sings, a vocal sound that is stripped of ornamentation and the fake emotion that mars much contemporary music.
Paris in the early-20th century was a hotbed of artistic and sexual experimentation. Even so, the expatriate American writer Gertrude Stein stood out as a gay Jewish woman whose art was as uncompromising and unconventional as her lifestyle. Stein’s book of prose poetry, “Tender Buttons,” comes to the stage this month in an epic production by the Van Reipen Collective that promises to shed new light on one of Stein’s most challenging and influential works. It starts this week in the East Village.
New novel, set in a concentration camp, is latest in cultural trend to probe Shoah with satire.
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In a German concentration camp, the commandant and an officer of the Waffen-SS, the armed wing of the Nazis’ SS paramilitary unit, are discussing the “selection” of Jewish prisoners to live or die. “There was no selection. They were all certainties for the gas,” one Nazi tells the other.
Exiled from their land for more than 350 years, English Jews have always led a somewhat marginalized existence, even though many of the have risen to positions of great prominence and prestige. In Daniel Cainer’s one-man show, “Jewish Chronicles,” the contradictions of Jewish life in England come both bruisingly and enchantingly to the fore. When he performed in Sydney, Australia, in 2010, critic Lloyd Bradford of Australian Stage Online found that Cainer’s songs forge “deep connections” between his own chaotic personal experiences and the colorful life of his people. “Jewish Chronicles” opens downtown in early October for a five-and-a-half-week run.
It would be hard to conceive of a more controversial figure in the Nazi inner circle than Albert Speer. One of Hitler’s closest confidantes, Speer was a master architect who had the ear of the failed-artist-turned-Führer. He was an integral part of the totality that was Nazi Germany, the chief creator of the Nazi public aesthetic, as well as the minister of armaments and munitions from 1942 on. Yet Speer was one of the very few high-ranking Nazis to declare his own guilt and shame publicly and to reveal the inner workings of the German government under Hitler in his memoirs.