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Tanz

Tanz: Reviews


All About Jazz - Italy
La Palma, Roma, Marzo 2006

L'ultima serata in programma era dedicata a un chitarrista americano, Tim Sparks, accompagnato da Greg Cohen al contrabbasso e Cyro Batista alle percussioni. Partito dal ragtime e dal fingerpicking puro, Sparks ha progressivamente arricchito la sua musica di connotazioni etniche, sviluppando un particolare interesse per l'area balcanica e dell'est europeo, sfociato nel klezmer e nell'approdo alla corte del sassofonista e compositore d'avanguardia John Zorn e dei suoi progetti a nome Masada; proprio la sua etichetta. la Tzadik, ha pubblicato i lavori più recenti di Sparks, oltre a fornirgli i due musicisti che lo affiancano anche in questo tour. Il repertorio è in gran parte quello della tradizione ebraica che ha inciso in trio nei suoi ultimi lavori, Tanz e At the Rebbe's Table. La musica klezmer affonda le sue radici nell'Europa dell'Est, mescolandosi alla tradizione gitana (uno dei suoi massimi esponenti del Novecento è stato il clarinettista Naftule Brandwein, del quale Sparks esegue “Araber Tanz”, “Fun Tashlach” e “Turk in Amerika”), ma si è sparsa un po' in tutto il mondo sulla scia della Diaspora ebraica; non mancano brani di ispirazione spagnola (”Morenica”, “Tres Hermanicas”), bosniaca (”La Jave Espana”) e addirittura brasiliana (”Eu So Quero Um Xodo”). Due brani proposti fanno parte del repertorio Masada (”Kodashim” e “Kanah”, di Zorn), mentre a metà concerto Sparks in solitudine porge un tributo ai padri della musica afroamericana (e allo stesso tempo alle proprie radici chitarristiche) con il trittico “Maple Leaf Rag” di Joplin, “Original Jelly Roll Blues” di Jelly Roll Morton, e “Mississippi Blues” di Willie Brown. Il chitarrista riesce a destreggiarsi mirabilmente in mezzo a tutte queste influenze, grazie a una padronanza della tecnica strumentale di tutto rispetto; mentre l'accompagnamento della coppia ritmica formata da Cohen, preciso e potente, e Batista, dinamico e fantasioso, circondato da percussioni di tutti i tipi cui si alterna senza sosta, permette al chitarrista una maggiore libertà nelle improvvisazioni solistiche, dove rivela la sua natura di jazzista non sempre evidente dagli album.

Un altro ottimo concerto, che ha chiuso in bellezza l'edizione 2006 di questa importante rassegna, ancora una volta di alto livello.


Downbeat
December 2000

For his second Tzadik album, Sparks intelligently and lovingly arranges some of his favorite songs from the Oriental, Sephardic and Yiddish canons of Jewish music for his guitar and, often, Greg Cohen's string bass and Cyro Baptista's percussion. With impeccable control, he imparts quiet depth to his close study of the melodies, harmonies and unusual rhythms belonging to, say, the Caucasus Mountains region wedding song "Aji Tu Yorma?" and four Depression-era compositions credited to the storied klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein. No small achievement, Sparks conveys the pathos of the Diaspora in his music.

Frank-John Hadley



Dirty Linen
2001

For his second album on Tzadik, Tim Sparks has expanded on his groundbreaking concept of presenting traditional Jewish melodies on acoustic guitar. This time he has recruited Greg Cohen, a bassist, and Cyro Baptista, a Brazilian percussionist, to accompany him on most tracks. Not only is the idea of playing such music on acoustic guitar a novel idea but, in the nimble hands of Sparks, it succeeds admirably. On Tanz, Sparks interprets four tunes by the famous Naftule Brandwein as well as other material drawn from Yiddish, Sephardic, and Oriental sources. The mix of a traditional approach with the jazz nuances that the trio brings to the arrangements makes for compelling and original music which should impress both guitar aficionados and those with a keen interest in the diversity of Jewish music. - Paul Emile Comeau


Guitarist explores Jewish influences
Pioneer Planet

The title of this disc, "Tanz,'' is the Yiddish word for dance. But to paraphrase an old Boston ad campaign, you don't have to be Jewish to move to and be moved by this music.
    This is guitarist Sparks' second record based on Jewish music, particularly the popular and familiar klezmer style, for John Zorn's "radical Jewish culture'' label Tzadik. On it, the fingerpicking champion, a North Carolina native who now lives in Frazee, Minn., also dips into jazz, bluegrass and classical styles. And along with the accompaniment of bassist Greg Cohen and Brazilian percussionist Cyro Baptista, he presents an intriguing set of tunes.
    For me, the standout piece of the album is "Dos Oybershte Fun Shtoysl (The Most Conceited of All),'' a 1920s piece based on traditional Yiddish melodies that strikes a variety of moods. Another moment of captivation comes with "Atumati Te'orer Hayeshenim (The Holy Presence Awakens the Sleepers)'' from the Jewish-Yemenite Manakha tradition.
    One critic calls Sparks' technique "musical sleight-of-hand''; it certainly is some kind of string-bending magic. I'm not certain what constitutes "appropriate'' Hanukkah music, but I should think this would certainly help set the tone.
-- James M. Tarbox


The Klezmer Shack
by Ari Davidow

I got e-mail recently from Tzadik recording artist, Tim Sparks, who sent me his two Tzakik releases, last year's "Neshamah," and this year's "Tantz." Sparks is an amazing finger-picker whose music reminds me a bit of Dave Grisman, and occasionally of John Fahey or Leo Kotke, except that he's jazzier than them--no less intricate, but more bouncy, more full of life. But my memory is colored by the connection, as we were e-mailing back and forth, that he was the guitarist on a delightful retro-'20s band called "Rio Nido" of whom I was made aware, and of whom I became a fan, back in the mid-'80s. It's a long time later, now.
    For the recordings in question, on "Neshamah" he played a range of Jewish music, religious, Yiddish, klezmer, Ladino, on solo guitar (no vocals). It is good, gentle, listening music with lots there to ponder if you can make the time and space to sit and listen for a while, as I've been doing this evening. Picking up a percussionist and bass player, as he does on "Tantz," gives whole new dimensions to the music, and lets him move away from the melody and improvise more at times, which I really enjoyed. Listening to a guitar stylist who is so deeply influenced by the popular music of the period in which Naftule Brandwein was at his height take on "Wie bist die gewestn vor prohibition?" turns the music on its head in some ways, but also Americanizes Brandwein's Americanized klezmer with results that are unexpectedly accessible and fun. Best, you can still do a tantz (dance) to the result! Here, the range also includes not only the more familiar Yiddish, klezmer, and Sephardic music, but also several Yemenite, Judeo-Kurdish, and even a melody, "Aji tuyorma?" from Azeri Jews from Dagestan.
    I am presuming, as I look at the range of songs, that he is, or has spent much time in Brooklyn, or someplace with an equally diverse community of far Eastern Jews who came over in the big migrations from the former Soviet Union ten and twenty years ago. Said migrations have given us not only new klezmer and Yiddish repertoire, but opened the door to become familiar with Jewish cultures in the Caucasuses, something different again from the Sephardic and Judeo-Arabic cultures that are more familiar. I had my mind blown just a bit a couple of years ago by the range and vitality of these cultures at a festival feature Jews of the former Soviet Union put on at a community center in Brighton Beach by Brave Old World's Michael Alpert and friends.

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