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Little Princess

Little Princess: Reviews


All About Jazz - New York
June 2010

The Klezmer revival began in earnest in the ‘80s when the repertoires of clarinetists Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras were rediscovered by a new generation of jazz, avant garde and folk musicians. Instrumentalists, primarily violinists and clarinetists, tried to sound like these two giants while also integrating other more rhythmically complex musics. At one point the last thing anyone needed was another version of Brandwein’s “Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym”.

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Trad Magazine, France

Si cet album met à l’honneur les compositions du célèbre clarinettiste Naftule Brandwein (1889-1963) icône de la musique juive, c’est certainement aussi la formidable prouesse de Tim Sparks que d’avoir réussi avec une guitare, une contrebasse (Greg Cohen) et des percussions (Cyro Baptista) à recréer les subtiles ambiances de la musique klezmzer sans la clarinette. Entre Pierre Bensusan et Stephan Grossman, la guitare acoustique façon jazzy se développe en arabesques raffinées au sustain remarqué. Le formidable guitariste délaisse provisoirement le fingerpicking pour s’adonner à une musique métissée qui glisse, klezmer oblige, en ambiances grecque, turque, gitane, brésilienne ou hispanisante aux contre-chants de percussions hypnotiques et d’une basse omniprésente, ample et vindicative. Trio acoustique avant tout qui défriche sur un terrain novateur, la formule tourne au brio quand chacun des musiciens s’égarent et se retrouvent magistralement au détour d’une double-croche ou d’un silence évocateur qui devient soupir. Mélodies qui ravivent les émois et les nostalgies nulles autres pareilles de la musique juive qui s’est encanaillée dans les ghettos new-yorkais du Nouveau Monde.

Alain Hermanstadt


JazzReview

Guitarist extraordinaire Tim Spark fuses a vibrant spin on traditional klezmer music set down by the once heralded “King of the klezmer clarinet” Naftule Brandwein, who performed in an Uncle Sam costume, garbed in electric lights, largely within the Lower East Side area of Manhattan back in the early 1900s. Interestingly enough, Sparks muses that Brandwein might have been the original downtown artist, which is a novel proposition due to the City’s ‘80s and onward, radical concoctions of jazz, Jewish music, rock and other genres.

Sparks and the rhythm section design a seamless blend of jazz, klezmer and even bossa nova (“The Rebbe’s Hasid”). The guitarist also injects Spanish lines into the grand mix via his fluent phrasings. It’s an airy endeavor, as the rhythm section maintains a solid but limber pulse, enabling Sparks to improvise and invent over the top.

On “Nifty’s Freylekh,” percussionist Cyro Baptista uses small woodblock type implements to instill a buoyant Latin groove, abetted by Sparks’ breezy developments and brisk single note runs. Yet it’s partly about the musicians’ conveyance of nuance, complemented by ferocious chops that at times, can be somewhat understated due to the all-acoustic format.

With keenly enacted dynamics, Sparks also offsets the program by morphing blues-rock riffs into the program, evidenced on “Lebenzol Palestina.” The guitarist also takes a few solo spots where he dapples the klezmer element with classical music stylizations. It’s a lovely album, indeed. Sparks modernist approach to the old wine historical mindset yields bountiful rewards.
- JazzReview

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