Tweet Tweet is one heck of an ambitious CD and Abraham Inc. is one heck of an ambitious band. A co-operative project led by the somewhat unlikely trio of klezmer-jazz clarinetist David Krakauer, jazz-funk trombonist Fred Wesley (James Brown's former musical director, and former member of the Count Basie Band, Parliament / Funkadelic, and Bootsy's Rubber Band), and the Canadian pianist / accordionist, and hip-hop artist Socalled, Abraham Inc. aims to fuse the disparate worlds of hip-hop and klezmer. Their music takes on every aspect of Klezmer culture - from the commonplace to the sublime - and creates something warm, organic, humorous and funky from what seems to me to be a pretty unlikely combination. A first, rather cursory, listen had me rolling my eyes, but "Tweet Tweet" gradually won me over with its sheer inventiveness, wit and musical virtuosity.
Starting out as a Julliard-trained classical clarinetist, David Krakauer later joined the Klezmatics before starting his own Klezmer Madness band (most of whom are in Abraham Inc., as well) with whom he's been venturing out farther and farther into jazz, avant garde music, funk, rock, and hip-hop. His first collaboration with Socalled, 'Bubbemeises: Lies My Gramma Told Me,' was a pivotal moment in his extraordinary musical adventure, and led to the formation of Abraham Inc.
Tweet Tweet operates primarily out of the hip hop / jazz-funk end of the spectrum, though each tune is deeply rooted in Klezmer and bears the distinctive minor key and modal harmonic characteristics of the traditional music. Amazingly, they take on some of the most recognizable traditional Jewish melodies - 'Hava Nagilah' for example - and reinvent them as contemporary funky soul tunes ('The H Tune'). Similarly, 'Push' transforms a familiar Jewish lament into an earthy funk-soul ballad with a bridge torn right out of the James Brown canon. Especially admirable are Brandon Wright's scorching Maceo-esque saxophone and Freddie Hendrix' stratospheric trumpet joining Krakauer and Wesley in the mix.
Some of the material ventures somewhat farther afield into the realms of techno ('Abe Inc. Techno Mix'), house ('Moskowitz Remix'), and rock / hip-hop hybrid ('It's Not The Same'), each with the primary objective of getting people out of their chairs and onto the dance floor. I'd have absolutely no problem with that, but from a pure listening viewpoint my favorite pieces are the most straightforwardly funky - 'Tweet Tweet,' 'Fred The Tzadik,' 'Trombonic,' and 'Baleboste: A Beautiful Picture.' New York-based MC C Rayz Walz plays a central role throughout the CD, and his rapid fire delivery and intelligent wordcraft adds another layer of profound interest to what is already a dizzyingly diverse musical stew.