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Calistrophy by Burton Greene's Klez-Thetics

Chicago-born pianist Burton Greene was/is on of the Grand Daddies of the early NYC avant/free jazz scene - he led his own groups as well as playing with Albert Ayler, Patty Waters and Alan Silva, as well as being one of the first jazz musicians to play a synthesizer. Awhile back, he realized that European shores were a tad more receptive to way-out sounds and relocated to Holland, where he still resides, though he does make it back in the USA on occasion both as a solo performer and with the band Klezmokum. Klez-Thetics is a "miniature" version (well, a quartet) of that band, and both explore, interpret, re-invent and jazz-up/out the grand legacy of Klezmer. (For the uninitiated, Klezmer is East European Hebraic/Yiddish-based rhythmic folk music infused with a strong jolt of jazz.) While some of this sounds as if you could play at a seder with your elderly relations about, like the sly opener "Ay Nshomah," but then Greene and clarinet guy Akos Laki gleefully toss in a monkey wrench and play some spiky, semi-free solos. Special mention goes to Larry Fishkind, whose tuba functions as both bass and a lead voice - oh, those swell vocal-type smears ‘n’ huffs will take you to the early days of New Orleans jazz and the more recent daze of the late free trumpeter Lester Bowie. Then there’s "In The Footsteps of The Bratslav," which personifies the pensive, yearning modal beauty of Klezmer and well as its elegance and defiant danceability - before they lovingly push the envelope some and take the music places undreamt of by Mickey Katz. (Katz was perhaps the last Klezmer superstar, who in the 1940s and 50s brought a zany Spike Jones/Frank Zappa sensibility to the music.) Neither hardcore traditional nor irreverently out/free, Calistrophy strides a enthralling middle ground, full of ace musicianship, compassion and a cheery wildness.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Burton Greene's Klez-Thetics
  • CD Title: Calistrophy
  • Genre: Folk Jazz
  • Year Released: 2002
  • Record Label: BVHAAST
  • Musicians: Akos Laki: clarinet, alto sax; Larry Fishkind: tuba; Roberto Haliffi: drums, perc.; Burton Greene: piano.
  • Rating: Five Stars
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