Music » Music Reviews

CD REVIEW-tChorba: Les Yeux Noirs

by

For your visual pleasure, close your eyes and picture this: John Shaft meets the Yiddish Romani Gypsy underworld. Let's just say if, and a big IF indeed, the 1970s black exploitation film character, John Shaft, were Jewish, the first song on this album would surely be on his soundtrack complete with the band, just like in I'm Gonna Get You Sucka, except of course with his Yiddish posse following about 10 paces behind laying down the heavy hittin' groove. That is how the CD begins; however, it quickly shifts and embraces the raw sound, tragedy and emotion of a people who have been oppressed throughout history.

The septet, Les Yeux Noirs, gather the songs of the old-world Eastern European Jewish and Romani-Gypsy cultures and sing in Yiddish, Roma and French. They preserve the core traditional sound and instrumentation of the ensemble with violin, double bass and cimbalom (hammer dulcimer). Yet they add western rock influences to the mix, revealing that they are not merely bound to tradition and naturally inspire the music to evolve. Blending all of these ingredients together creates a musical stew of sorts. tChorba, the name of a Turkish soup, is a fitting title for this release.

Fusion of Eastern European Jewish Romani, and French music is a progression that began with Manouche guitarist Django Reinhardt in the 1930s and has since taken Europe and the world by storm. Les Yeux Noirs have selected, written and arranged some of the finest wedding songs, lullabies, and ballads that this brand of fusion has to offer. They take you on an emotional journey of gypsy funk, to hard-drinking and fast-swinging wedding songs, to a pleasant feeling of melancholy that leaves you longing for a bottle of home-shined plum brandy and a purposefully lost cork.

Questions? Comments? E-mail music@boiseweekly.com.