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From the producer of the hit "NON-STOP CHABAD" comes a delicate and refreshing album of a different nature.
Remastered in honor of the 10th anniversary of the release of the extraordinary "VODKAZAK!" album, the original session tapes were revisited and completely remixed using the best takes from the recording sessions (some never heard before) plus new percussion tracks by Klezmer percussionist Aaron Alexander were recorded for extra spice and pop, and the entire album was remastered utilizing today’s advanced audio mixing tools for your listening pleasure.
All told, it’s an amazing virtuoso performance of Chassidic Niggunim led by great American Klezmer pros on original Russian folk instruments. This amazingly smooth and gentle-sounding album contains a selection of hand-picked melodies spanning two hundred years of Chassidic music, and captures the essence and delight of these heavenly melodies in the way the ancient Chassidim might have heard them played back in the day.
This old Chabad song was often sung by Reb Shlomo Chaim Kesselman, a beloved Chassidic mentor in Russia, and later in Kfar Chabad, Israel.
A spirited Chassidic tune, bursting with joy and drunk with enthusiasm. Originally sung by the Chassid Reb Peretz Mockin and recently popularized by Rabbi Shimon Lazaroff, this melody is often sung at weddings and other joyous occasions when spirits are high and also flowing freely.
4. Niggun L'Shabbos V'Yom Tov
This moving and introspective Niggun is often sung as a prelude to the Alter Rebbe's song "Niggun of Four Stanzas." It softens the spirit and opens the heart.
5. Niggun Hisvaadus
This lively melody, in four sections, is generally sung at Chassidic gatherings and other happy occasions.
6. Niggun Gaaguim
A simple yet deep melody in three parts, giving introspective expression and a deep yearning for religious inspiration and spiritual elevation. This Niggun is of very early origin and is also widely spread among various Chassidic groups.
7. Niggun Simcha
One of the oldest lively and joyous Chabad nigunim, often sung at Chassidic gatherings. Its three sections are repeated over and over again until the participants are transported to Chassidic ecstasy.
8. Tal Yasis
This Chassidic cantorial song was composed by Reb Avraham Charitonov, of Nikolayev Russia, and was sung in Lubavitch during Pesach, 5659 (1899). The tune is set to the words of Tal Yasis, a prayer for dew, recited during Pesach. "Let dew sweeten, like honey, the mountains; let your chosen ones savor Your goodness; deliver Your beloved ones from bondage, so then we will raise our voices and sing sweet songs, with dew."
9. Ochein Atoh
A lively melody in two sections expressing devotion and the outpouring of one’s soul to the Almighty, interpreted in the words "Ochein Atoh Kel Misasteir." The inner meaning conveys admiration of the Almighty Who is hidden and unseen, yet present in all of nature’s wonders.
10. Ech Du
A Niggun belonging to the class of Chassidic song known as "Fonke" for its distinctive Russian sound. A joyful melody in three sections, it is sung as a dialogue, in an elevated spirit of Chassidic exultation and joy. The melody was popularized by Reb Shmuel Kantaroff, who studied in the Yeshiva in the town of Lubavitch.
11. Niggun Hisvaadus II
This Niggun is often sung before a Chassidic discourse is delivered, setting the mood and opening the hearts of those present. It is a stirring Niggun in three sections. It is sung slowly, reflectively, with a contemplative mind and with fullness of heart, expressing introspection and yearning for spiritual elevation.
12. Niggun Simcha
A song in three sections often sung at Chassidic gatherings. Attributed to Reb Aaron Sh"uv.
13. Niggun Hisvaadus III
The renowned Chassidic mentor Reb Michoel Blinner used to sing this melody at Chassidic gatherings in the town of Lubavitch. The melody is distinguished for its profundity of content, expressive of intense yearning for spiritual elevation.
14. Niggun Hisvaadus IV
A bright and buoyant song of unknown origin.
15. "Klimovitcher" Nigun
This rhythmic song originated from Chabad Chassidim in the town of Klimovitch. It was later popularized by the Chassid Reb Rephael Kahn.
16. Niggun Binyomin Althoiz
Like many of the Chassidic songs from Nikolayev this song expresses their trademark ebullience, joy, and enthusiasm. Reb Binyomin Althoiz brought this song to Lubavitch, hence it is named after him.
17. Kol Bayar
It is said the both the text and the moving melody were composed by the renowned Tzadik, Reb Aryeh Leib, better known as the Shpoler Zeideh (having lived in the town of Shpole in the Ukraine). He was one of the early followers of the Bal Shem Tov, the Founder of Chassidism, and was widely known for his great love and devotion to his fellow Jews. This Niggun is a dialogue between the Almighty Father and His children, the People of Israel. The Father looks for His children in Galuth (the Diaspora) and implores them to return home to the Holy Land, "Dear children, please return home, I feel forlorn without you."
This could just as easily be called "The amazing Alicia Svigals and friends play chasidic nigunim." By the middle of the third song "Mashke", as Svigals violin reaches supersonic speed and virtuosity, the blind are walking and the lame are seeing. But it isn't all Svigals. Bass duties are shared by veteran Marty Confurious (most recently supplying bass to Adrienne Greenbaum and friends ) and Nicki Parrot (Svigals' bandmate). Then there is that amazing plucked instrument guy, Jeff Warschauer, and master accordionist Sy Kushner.
What we have here, are a couple hundred years or so of hassidic melodies, most of which reflect their very eastern European folk roots, occasionally, as on "Tal Yasis", reflecting Jewish Cantorial modes, performed on acoustic instruments by people who have been doing this for a long, long time. And, as is true any time you get good musicians together who like each other, playing music that they love, the result is something very special. The switch back and forth between three such masterful soloists as Svigals, Warschauer, and Kushner keeps everything fresh. What makes a Niggun a "Niggun", as opposed to "klezmer music"? I'm not sure. Some Niggunim are clearly for dancing. But Niggunim, "Niggins" are also used to enter an active meditative state, where the repetition of the melody over and over induces trance. (This may be why nearly half of them seemed to be called "Niggun Hisvaadus"--"Becoming-Oneness tune".) So, think of this as pre-electronica trance music.
But then, as Svigals put it recently, "[when] you listen again, imagine the melodies being sung with those Hasidic syllables [e.g., "ya ba bai" or "chiri bim chiri bam"] and some table banging!" And, yet, there are runs, like the intense, bluegrass train-whistle-blowing part of "Mashke," with Svigals and Warschauer and Kushner working back and forth that are less trance by repetition than trance by sheer virtuosity and wonder. And, sometimes, as on the "Niggun L'Shabbos V'Yom Tov" that follows, or "Niggun Hisvaadus" and "Nugun Gaaguim", there is a quiet captured by that same virtuosity that evokes a different road to meditative wonder. Warschauer's mandolin is perfect. Kushner's accordion sublime. Svigals violin consciousness-transforming. And, sometimes, as I thought the first few times through, without looking at the liner notes, letting it all wash over me, it sounds like that wonderful cross, mentioned earlier, between Russian balalaika music and Jewish cantorial singing. Not to be missed! And don't forget to tell your friends, the balalaika music fans, as well.