Jewish Journal

George Robinson

  • JDub throws off the label and opts for change

    July 23, 2008 | 2:55 am

    Golem live ('Romania, Romania!') at the Knitting Factory in NYC June 2007

    JDub was never supposed to be just a record label, and as JDub records celebrates its fifth anniversary with a free concert on July 27 downtown at California Plaza, it is more clear than ever that the...

  • Fresh music choices include Pesach treats

    April 17, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    Not much Passover music arrived in this year's mail so it's difficult to speculate on the ebb and flow of certain kinds of Jewish music recordings, but it does seem that fewer holiday-specific records are coming out of late. On the other hand, the flood of spiritually informed...
  • Violin virtuosi make concert a family affair

    April 10, 2008 | 6:00 pm

    It's not very often that a classical music recital has its roots in an airport, but in a manner of speaking, you might say that the concert that violin virtuosi Albert and Alexander Markov are giving at American Jewish University (AJU) on April 13 was born at LAX 15 years ago.


  • Eight Jewish albums hit high notes in ‘07

    December 20, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    At the risk of sounding like Walter Cronkite, what kind of a year has it been in Jewish music?

    It's been a very good year, though you wouldn't know it from this annual compilation of five-star records -- there are only eight this year, the fewest in the decade I've been doing this....

  • Surveillance videos bring new angle to film drama ‘Look’

    December 13, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    It is estimated that 4.2 million closed-circuit TV surveillance cameras are operating in Great Britain, one for every 15 residents of the country. Don't worry, though, the United States is rushing to catch up. Baltimore, for example, already has 400 such cameras in place, and, as...

  • Comedy singer drawn to Jewish thought—but not shul

    December 13, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    It is commonplace that the best comedy is essentially serious. Of course, clichés often have an underlying truth, so maybe that explains why Rob Tannenbaum, one half of the comedy-music duo, Good for the Jews, playing at the Knitting Factory on Dec. 14, is both a very funny guy, and...
  • JDub worldwide concerts add synergy to the season

    December 6, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    The buzzword in business circles is synergy. That's what JDub Records was looking for when it began to think about its third annual Chanukah event.

    And when Daniel Brenner, vice president for education at the Birthright Israel
    Foundation, told JDub heads Aaron Bisman and Jacob...
  • For listening, for giving—klezmer and its cousins

    November 29, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Romashka Live at Joe's Pub
    After two consecutive years of a mailbox clogged with new Chanukah music, this year seems to have produced a drought of latkes-candles-and-dreidel epics. No matter. There are plenty of terrific CDs around that will make good gifts for those who do the...
  • The many sides of Bob Dylan

    November 15, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Bob Dylan's Jewish identity has long been a point of conflict and controversy. His short-lived conversion to born-again Christianity dismayed many, heartened a few and confused all. But at least two commentators are certain that Jewishness and Judaism inform the core of the former...
  • Sounds to stir your soul

    September 13, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    The month of Elul, that time of introspection and self-examination that precedes the High Holy Days, by its very nature should move us toward a peak of spiritual intensity that washes into the Days of Awe. No surprise, then, that the music of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur is among the...
  • Trio of performers aiming for bite of pop music pie

    September 13, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Your chances of getting hit by lightning are better than the odds on winning one of roughly 40 state lotteries found in the United States. But people keep buying lottery tickets, presumably with the belief that when the lightning strikes, they'll be the ones to get fried.

    The odds on...

  • The Six-Day War changed Israel’s film industry forever

    May 31, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Consider Thorold Dickinson's 1954 film, "Hill 24 Doesn't Answer," and Baruch Dinar's landmark 1960 drama, "They Were Ten."

    Each film has a tragic ending in which the death of Zionist patriots is a necessary prelude to the founding of a Jewish state.

    Then look at Uri Zohar's...
  • Curtains open on bigger and better Jewish Film Festival

    April 19, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Click the BIG ARROW for the Festival trailer: 'Rosemary's Bubbaleh'
    Trying to encapsulate the Jewish experience in a single film is like pouring Lake Michigan into your bathtub. And it wouldn't be any easier with a dozen films. So you can forgive Hilary Helstein, the director of...
  • New crop of albums grows in the Jewish music world

    March 15, 2007 | 8:00 pm

    Click the BIG ARROW to see David Bromberg back in the day -- 1985
    It looks like a spring of big changes and unusual combinations in the Jewish music world. We have a comeback by an outstanding performer from the 1970s, a renowned Israeli composer working on a requiem mass (!), a...
  • Composer Martin Bresnick’s classically unique style turns 60

    January 18, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    Please don't think that Martin Bresnick is having a "Goodbye, Mr. Chips" moment. Sure the acclaimed composer and teacher celebrated his 60th birthday last month with a series of concerts and the release of a new CD of his music, "The Essential Martin Bresnick," performed by a gang...
  • Preminger retrospective to showcase his cinematic art

    January 10, 2007 | 7:00 pm

    At the height of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Dr. Markus Preminger, a brilliant young lawyer, was offered the position of chief prosecutor, an honor never bestowed on a Jewish attorney. There was only one catch: He had to convert to Catholicism. He refused and got the appointment...
  • Good albums drown out naysayers’ dire predictions

    December 28, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    All in all, 2006 was a very good year for Jewish music. Fourteen CDs won the five-star plaudit, which is certainly a hopeful sign and a pointed rejoinder to those naysayers who have been proclaiming the death of (choose one): 1) klezmer; 2) new Jewish music; 3) old Jewish music....
  • Music: Shabbat joins ‘Lounge’ lineup

    December 28, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    Listening to "The Shabbat Lounge" (Craig N Co.), the latest album in Craig Taubman's "Lounge" series, your first thought is, "Gee, this is such a natural, why didn't he begin the series with this one instead of shuffling through the holidays?"

    The answer, I suspect, is that the...

  • Films: The trials and tribulations of fathers and sons

    December 14, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    For so many Jewish men, it always comes back to fathers and sons, despite what Philip Roth might think. Look at the films of Daniel Burman, the rising young star of the New Argentine Cinema. "Waiting for the Messiah," "Lost Embrace" and his latest, "Family Law," which all revolve...
  • Originality trumps repetition in the holiday songs battle

    December 7, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    I will be frank. I'm tired of hearing the same holiday songs over and over. So the best Chanukah present I've received this year is a pile of Chanukah-themed CDs with lots of new holiday songs, many of them quite good. Here's what crossed my desk this December.

    The Klezmatics:...

  • Red diaper babies seen anew in ‘Commune’

    November 9, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    It's not on his resume, but filmmaker Jonathan Berman is really an anthropologist. Each of his three acclaimed documentaries, "The Shvitz," "My Friend Paul" and his latest, "Commune," is an examination of a small self-selected community.

    "Oh, totally," he said when asked if he sees...

  • Violinist Joshua Bell walks in the footsteps of masters

    October 12, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Although he doesn't exactly think of it this way, Joshua Bell is the latest in a long line of Jewish violin-playing aristocracy.

    His teacher was Joseph Gingold, and as Bell fondly recalled him, "He was a Russian Jewish violinist. He had an incredible joy for the violin that rubbed...

  • Music lovers get presents for composer Reich’s birthday

    October 5, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Sometime in the 1970s, composer Steve Reich found himself looking for spiritual sustenance.
    "Like many people in the '60s," he says, "I got involved in Hatha Yoga and Northern Buddhist meditation and Southern Buddhist meditation. It did a lot of good for a high-metabolism New...
  • Holiday tunes for when you haven’t got a prayer

    September 21, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    I like work. It fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. -- Jerome K. Jerome
    Perhaps it is the intensity of the emotions raised by the liturgy itself. Or the power of worshipping in a sanctuary filled with people. Or the sense that everything is at stake.
  • Now hear this: cool Jewish music

    September 21, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    The second annual Jewish Music Awards were given out on Sept. 11, before a sparse but enthusiastic crowd at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.
    It was a big night for Pharoah's Daughter, with the band winning awards as Best Middle Eastern Blend and Best World Music Group....
  • Make An Oyful Noise

    August 24, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    OySongs.com is the first music download site dedicated exclusively to Jewish music and, with the Web site about a month old, its founder, Joe Eglash, is still breathless from excitement.

    With sections dedicated to Sephardic, klezmer, jazz and contemporary Jewish music, as well as...

  • Thirty Years of Carlebach Rock

    August 17, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach's musical legacy has taken many forms, from the dozens of minyanim whose worship uses his music to the excellent recordings made by his daughter, Neshama. But the most enduring and unexpected offspring from Carlebach's folkie neo-Chasidism is the number of jam...

  • Spectator - Musical Gathering Comes Naturally

    June 22, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    When Shlomo Bar started making music professionally in the mid-1970s, there was no such thing as "world music." So he helped create it.

    Bar, a Moroccan-born Israeli, founded Habrera Hativit in the late '70s as a band whose music would be a creative fusion of the many different sounds...

  • For Musicians, It’s Good to Be Labeled

    May 4, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    When Chasidic reggae-rapper Matisyahu sold 350,000 units of his new album, "Youth," in the first weeks after its release, he redrew the rule book for marketing Jewish music.

    Or, more accurately, Aaron Bisman and Jacob Harris, his now former managers and heads of JDub Records, the...

  • Spectator - A Musical Trek to Israel

    April 27, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    For 2,000 years, Jewish music has been a hybrid compounded of elements picked up from our neighbors. Salamone Rossi created Italian Baroque settings of Hebrew texts. Chasidic niggunim drew on Viennese waltz music and Eastern European military marches. Sulzer and Lewandowski wrote...

  • PASSOVER: Songs for a Swinging Seder

    April 6, 2006 | 8:00 pm

    Of all the Jewish holidays, none is so firmly rooted in the home and so joyously celebrated with song as Passover. This simple fact would lead you to expect an avalanche of Passover records, but this year the avalanche is more like a mild rain of pebbles, at least in the quantity...

  • Spectator - Make Room for the Jammys

    March 16, 2006 | 7:00 pm

    In response to the glaring absence of Jewish music from the Grammy Awards, the teen-themed JVibe has just released the results of its first "Jammys," a set of Jewish music awards sponsored by the magazine and voted on by readers on the monthly's Web site.

    Not surprisingly, the Jammy...

  • Spectator - A Three Nyuks Salute

    December 29, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    Three Jews are in a room screaming at one another, poking each other in the eyes, hitting each other on the head with objects ranging from frying pans to anvils. It's either a meeting of the synagogue's board of trustees or a Three Stooges film festival. Fortunately, this time, it's...

  • There’s Some Good Music to Fill the Air

    December 15, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    I was sitting in a fast-food joint last week when they piped in a pop-salsa version of "Jingle Bells." If it had been Eddie Palmieri or Ray Barretto, I would have been fine, but this sounded like Menudo on crystal meth, and I decided I'd had enough Christmas music for the next...

  • Punk Princesses:  Jews With Attitude

    December 8, 2005 | 7:00 pm

    There were always Jews in punk, even before there was punk.

    "It really begins with Lenny Bruce," says Steven Beeber, whose new book "The Heebie Jeebies at CBGBs: A Secret History of Jewish Punk," will be published next year by A Capella Books. "Bruce sort of epitomizes the attitude,...

  • Four Ways to Hear the Days of Awe

    September 15, 2005 | 8:00 pm

    The Days of Awe evoke many feelings, but my first thoughts invariably turn to the special music of these days. From the solemn, almost brooding melody of Kol Nidre to the lilting "High Holiday" tune that unifies the music of both Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, there is much in which...

  • Good Timing Lands Luck in Director’s Lap

    September 18, 2003 | 8:00 pm

    I'm sure that when Greg Pritikin made his first feature film, "Dummy," now in theaters, he had no inkling that he had inadvertently grabbed an indie-film brass ring. But when he cast Adrien Brody as a maladroit but sweet schlemiel who is obsessed with ventriloquism as the way to win...

  • Bittersweet Music

    March 14, 2002 | 7:00 pm

    Despite its air of celebration, Passover is a bittersweet remembrance, one in which the joy of liberation is marked by the pain of recollection of what we were liberated from and what we lost on the way from Egypt to Eretz Yisrael. Our seder liturgy reflects that ambivalence,...

  • Catching Up With Klezmer

    September 7, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Consider these points on the compass - Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, the Balkans, Baltimore, Boston, New York and Toronto. What do they have in common? They are all represented by klezmer recordings this month. (They also include four-fifths of the American League East - doesn't...

  • Sephardic and Ladino Music

    June 29, 2000 | 8:00 pm

    Given that the first Jews to arrive in what became the United States were Sephardim on the run from the Inquisition's Brazilian representatives, it is ironic that the music of the Sephardic Jews gets so little attention here.

    Not everyone is a party to that neglect. Simon Rutberg of...

  • Coming Attractions

    March 23, 2000 | 7:00 pm

    If the mark of a fully matured film industry is that directors have logged enough time behind the camera that one can spot personal styles emerging over several films, then this year's Israel Film Festival proves that the Israelis have definitely reached that plateau. With Eran...
  • New Year’s Sounds

    September 9, 1999 | 8:00 pm

    The number "three" doesn't play an especially important part in Jewish lore and customs. But the pre-High Holy Day musical rush brought to my desk several trios of related recordings, so it's fitting to deal with them in groups of threes.

    1. Three sets ostensibly inspired by Jewish...