[October 13, 2017] – Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour (MTKH), an 8-year-old traditional Jewish music band in Austin, is releasing its first album, entitled Shoyn Avek Der Nekhtn, which translates as “Yesterday Is Dead And Gone.” The 10-piece ensemble presents an exciting and energetic take on Yiddish music, some of which has never been recorded in the modern era. The album was produced by renowned klezmer expert Sherry Mayrent of the Mayrent Institute and was recorded here in Austin by famed artist and engineer Brian Beattie. It features Austin-based jazz historian Rabbi Neil Blumofe on vocals.
Shoyn Avek der Nekhtn evokes the cultural experience of the diaspora of Eastern European Jewry from a traditionalist perspective. It is an intensely-instrumental album, punctuated by poignant lyrics sung in Yiddish, English, & Russian languages, with a flow of music that seems at times dreamy, yearning, mournful and celebratory all at the same time.
MTKH is as much a research project as it is a live band. Through its desire to pay homage to the hundreds-years-old traditions of the music, members of MTKH have studied klezmer performance from internationally prominent klezmer traditions. The band has also sought to convey that knowledge to local musicians through free workshops and a community klezmer band, the Austin Klezmer Bund Orchestra, which performs at the HONK-TX street band festival. MTKH instrumentation is unique, featuring accordion, flute, trumpet, clarinet, cimbalom, trombone, fiddle, and tuba. The star of the band is its Belarusian vocalist, Svetlana Saenger, who sings in multiple languages.
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