Nicole: Raízes / Roots
Nicole on Vocals
Pablo Aslan on Acoustic Bass
Cyro Baptista on Percussion
Rob Curto on Accordion
Paul Meyers on Nylon String Guitar
Brandon Seabrook on Mandolin and Electric Guitars
Lorin Sklamberg on vocals
Isra-Alien (Oren Neiman and Gilad Ben Zvi) on guitars and vocals
Renato Thoms on percussion
Michael Winograd on clarinet
Jake Shulman-Ment on violin
Frank London on trumpet and Wurlitzer piano
Danny Blume on electric bass
Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
August 8, 2016
This CD is a must-listen-to-often, gorgeous compilation of original Jewish tunes, including a few Yiddish standards, in Brazilian tones, tempos, and in Portuguese. Choro and klezmer combine for intoxicating danceable music, evocative of Brazilian tropical breezes and old Yiddish movies, all at once, an amazingly creative concept. The album’s notes indicate that “Raízes” celebrates “roots and re-invention”. Nicole, who uses just her first name, has a Ukrainian, New York, Brazilian heritage. A successful lawyer in Brazil, she also studied composition and has now recorded five albums. She is dedicated to sharing original Jewish music and co-founded a festival for Klezmer and Jewish music in Brazil. Nicole’s vocals are exquisitely bound with her expansive, outstanding musical ensemble. There is innate emotionality and poignancy in each tune’s arrangement, sometimes languid, sometimes percussive, sometimes festive, sometimes heartrending. The acoustic bass, accordion, clarinet, and violin add the natural, mixed ethnicity that showcases the album’s soul.
#5 – No Escuro (“In Der Fintster”) – Composed by Zishe Landau. With Nicole’s deep, earthy vocals and Rob Curto’s enchanting accordion interludes, this track imbues old Jewish songs and even a hint of a tango. It’s a soulful song, even like a lullaby, soft and rhythmic, and you’ll certainly want to hear it again. I chose this simplified tune, with no special guests, for the way it showcases the six-piece band, with bass, percussion, guitars, and that heartrending accordion.
#6 – Ave Dourada (“Goldene Pave”) – Composed by Chava Albertstein / Anna Margolin / Incidental / Shem Tov Levi. Guests appearing on this track Isra-Alien on guitars and Renato Thoms on percussion. This song, with Brazilian tones and refrains is reminiscent of Jewish holiday songs and prayers, in a warm, magnetic manner. The accordion is showcased here again, to lovely effect.
#8 – Dois Músicos (“Yidl Mitn Fidl”) – Composed by Abraham Ellstein / Itsik Manger. This lively track is inspired by the title tune of a 1936 romantic comedic film, “Yidl Mitn Fidl”. Once more, the gorgeous accordion is featured, with the six-member band on its own, with pure, fused, ethnic joyfulness. The tempo is danceable, and the tones are hummable. Nicole rides the vocal waves as if in a festive circle dance.
#12 – Nova Dança (“Der Nayer Sher”) – Composed by Abraham Ellstein. This track evoked a memory of long ago dancing at an Orthodox Jewish wedding, with Michael Winograd’s clarinet providing the requisite klezmer. Lorin Sklamberg, on shared vocals, sounded seasoned and sensational. If you’re having a party, this album is a must-play. The other nine tracks are just as mesmerizing as the featured four.