There are also five new, original pieces on Say You'll Understand, each penned by a different member of the group. As good as the rest of the CD is, the range and musical talent of the Dispensers really shines through on these tracks, some of which would not be out of place on a Tzadik CD. The humorously anachronistic Jazz Age sound of pianist Adrian Banner's 'Ray Charleston' is quirkily offset by post-bop horn stylings and Gregg Mervine's deft drumming. Ben Holmes' 'Millville Freylekh' is a straight-up 2-beat freylekh in the grand Klezmer tradition. Violinist Amy Zakar also contributes a lovely traditional-sounding piece ('Fischer Tanz'). By contrast, Mervine's 'Gregg's Hora' is a re-examination of a traditional Yiddish dance form through the lens of post-Coltrane jazz, with space for an extended alto saxophone solo by the amazing Alex Kontorovich. The fusing of modern and traditional forms also plays out in Kontorovich's furiously-paced 'Sirba.' Full of dynamic peaks and valleys, this piece is a tour de force for Kontorovich's virtuoso post-everything clarinet.
Say You'll Understand covers a lot of stylistic ground, and succeeds in making a coherent musical statement while being thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. I heartily recommend the Klez Dispensers to anyone interested in Jewish Culture, radical or not.