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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

4th Ward Afro Klezmer Orchestra

Abdul the Rabbi

Review by Gary Hill

Perhaps this doesn’t fit under the heading of progressive rock, but personally, I’ve always felt that music that bends genre and combines things normally not combined is progressive. So, that’s where I’m landing this. It’s a crazy kind of album that combines many of the sounds one would expect based on the name of the group and the title of the album. Klezmer music, jazz and rock are all combined here, but other things (from space rock to surf music) also show up in the mix. It’s definitely creative and unique. I actually like it quite a bit.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2012  Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Yemenite Tanz

This comes in gradually with a classical meets jazz approach. As it builds out there are some hints of rock music added in the mix, but jazz is the primary element on display. They take it out from there into some cool jazz jamming. This thing works through a number of changes and is pretty darned tasty.

Oy Tate Firn Mir Tsu Jo'berg
The Klezmer shows up here in fine style. They bring it into jazz territory through the instrumentation and general arrangement, but this is very much a Klezmer piece of music. It’s bouncy and fun. After the two minute mark it drops down to a slower moving jazz number that’s melodic and tasty. There is some awesome jamming as this thing continues.
El Violinista
This is just a short little spoken bit.
Fiddler On the Roof
Here we get a rock meets jazz and world music rendition of the title track from the musical. After a time it gets into more of a freeform jazz jam that’s incredibly tasty.
Die Silver Wedding Die
There is some world music in this, but overall it’s a slow moving jazzy number that’s quite tasty. Around the three minute mark it shifts towards surf music and continues from there. As it builds out there’s almost a spaghetti Western turned surf texture to the whole thing. It keeps speeding up and is just an awesome piece of music. After time, it shifts to more of that Yiddish music.
El Rabino
This is another of those short spoken word bits.
Abdul the Rabbi
A soulful jazz groove is added to the Klezmer sounds. There’s a rap laid over the top bringing into hip hop territory.
Yesh Li Gan
Starting with atmospheric tones, this works out and up gradually from there. It’s almost to the minute and a half mark when it shifts, moving towards a jazz meets world music sound that’s tasty. It works out to a freeform jazz jam that has hints of early King Crimson and even Nik Turner’s music in it. It works out from there to more purely melodic music that combines world sounds with jazz.
Toco Hills Kiddush Club
Jazz and Klezmer merges on this piece. At different points it leans towards one side of the equation or the other. There’s a screaming saxophone solo in this beast. A rather crazed guitar solo is also heard.
Doina Blues
Rising up gradually, Dixieland and Klezmer sounds are merged. Slow moving, sultry jazz sounds emerge as this continues. The blues element in the title comes into play via some of the horn soloing we get here. Guitar takes over after the four and a half minute mark and it shifts to more of a fast paced groove. Jazz elements are still laced all over the top of this thing. A saxophone dances over the top of the arrangement as this thing builds out. Guitar also screams over the mix later, too.
Der Stasi
Coming in mellow this works out with a bouncy sort of melody at first. Then the jabbing jazz lines enter to take the piece in a new direction. This is a powerhouse, off-kilter jazz jam that’s very tasty. Saxophone solos like crazy as this moves forward. A killer rock groove emerges as this continues and there’s a smoking hot classic rock styled guitar solo that wails over the top, with multiple guitars working on that solo. The shift takes it back to jazz to end the number.
Another short spoken bit ends the set.
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