"This is just an extraordinary CD, from klezmer and beyond. From the ground up ..., the band just shines. Listen to this and realize that the Red Hot Chachkas are burning up the airwaves. Time to listen in." ~ Ari Davidow, KlezmerShack (Oct. 2007). Recommended on "The Klez Top Ten -- Ari's Choice" (Feb. 2008)
"This inventive San Francisco area band mixes up their klezmer with bits of Irish trad, reggae, avant garde jazz, blues/soul (check out the sax break on "Rocky Hora!") and even bluegrass. Everything is well played and cleverly arranged. Kudos to the accordionist, saxophonist/clarinetist, and violinist who let rip with some really wild solos! Recommended for those who enjoy the progressive side of klezmer (such as The Klezmatics or New Orleans Klezmer All Stars)." ~ Ken Roseman, Sing Out! (March 2008)
"Here’s the kind of frustration that makes the lives of musicians who dedicate themselves to Jewish music so thankless: this second set from the Bay Area-based Chachkas is their first in over five years. Their last CD merited one of my infrequent five-star reviews, and the wait for the new one was downright painful — but definitely worth the pain. This is a playful group with a sense of humor; as proven by such little gems as the reggae intro to “Chosidl Diddle,” or the crazy clockwork and fractured square dance riff of “Stomp It Up,” written by their new clarinetist Barbara Speed. Another fun recording with great musicianship. Rating: Five Stars." ~ George Robinson, The Jewish Week (New York) (March 2008)
"The Chachkas play with Yiddish-accented fluency, their homegrown pieces flowing naturally out of klezmer tradition — and just as fun.... Spice it Up! could easily serve as a model for modern klezmer innovation.... if you want to find out where klezmer is headed, this is the band to befriend." ~ Dan Pine, j. (Jewish News Weekly) (Dec. 2007)
"When I got a copy, I didn't know the 'Red Hots,' but now, listening for the twentieth time to the music of this GREAT BAND I know they are one of the best bands, maybe THE BEST. I love the way they make traditional Klezmer music more modern. My compliments for all band's members. I think my copy of Spice It Up! will soon be worn too thin to use anymore." ~ Ad Peeters, Stichting Klezmerfestival Baarn (Holland, 2008)
"The compositions [by members of the band] are all stylistically bold, with elements from other genres (such as reggae, R&B, and bluegrass) integrated in the best klezmer revival tradition. The works by band leader Julie Egger are especially compelling. [...] Perhaps the most successful cut is the last, "Rocky Hora," composed by Tony Phillips. It features a simple bass line under layer after layer of improvisation, influenced by jazz, rock, and R&B. ...it is an example of excellent musicianship andinterpretation. It is recommended for all klezmer collections." ~ Beth Dwoskin, Association of Jewish Libraries Newsletter (Sept./Oct. 2008)
"Spice it Up!
is the second release by Red Hot Chachkas, of the San Francisco Bay
area. The group has an eclectic sound with truly inventive arrangements
of both traditional and original works. Many of the songs are composed
or arranged by the band members. Some songs defy classification. They
can be a blend of styles that merge into a wonderful sound that is a
refreshing listening experience.... With 18 tracks and over 72 minutes
of music, you really get your money's worth from the album. To sum up,
this is a terrific recording by a top notch group. If you're ready for
a wide-ranging adventure in Klezmer, you should give the Red Hot
Chachkas a listen. They really know how to Spice it Up!" ~ Keith Wolzinger, KlezmerPodcast (Dec. 2007)
"I am a HUGE fan of your Klezmer band!!!!!!!! that CD is unbelievable. We listen to it all the time." ~ Sam B. (Bloomington, IN)
"Loved the CD!" ~ David S. (New York, NY)
"What great blends of tasty
sounds -- from beginning to end, and ending with Rocky Hora -- much fun!" ~ Isabel F. (Toronto, ON)
Everything on this CD was recorded live in the studio, with no overdubs or patches.
Design by Lisa Berman / bermandesign.com
1::Kostakowsky's Sher No. 4 (Traditional, arr. Red Hot Chachkas © 2007) 3:42
This traditional sher is from Nat Kostakowsky's International Hebrew Wedding Music, published in 1916 (now available as The Ultimate Klezmer, and recommended). Kandel's Orchestra recorded a version in 1918 as "Rusishe Sher." As with most sher melodies, sections can be mixed-and-matched to fit the square dance choreography.
2::Isaac in Kolomej (Traditional, arr. Rob Reich © 2007) 2:52
Rob transcribed this lively tune from a recording by a Polish-American band, Orkiestra Majkuta, circa 1930 (found on Arhoolie's American Masters series, vol. 7). For this CD, our concept was to merge klezmer with a variety of other musical genres, such as the Romanian-style interlude here.
3::Elena's Waltz (Breck Diebel © 2007) 2:12
Bassist Breck is relatively new to klezmer, and he composed this piece to combine klezmer elements with the traditional European waltz. We hope you'll agree that the result is lovely.
4::Chosidl Diddle (Barbara Speed © 2007) 3:34
.... the clarinet and the fiddle, and who jumped over the moon? Clarinetist Barb composed this chosidl, which is a walking tempo dance, spiced up Chachka-style with drummer Michael's reggae intro.
5::Stomp It Up (Barbara Speed © 2007) 2:38
Barbara wrote this soon after joining the Chachkas, to reflect her excitement about being in the group and soaking up the klezmer style. She tried to write a dance tune in the tradition, but she's played in a lot of other styles, and it shows. It starts out as a bulgarish, but gets bluegrassish, and then heads out to sea.
6::Suite Matthew (Julie Egger © 2007) 4:28
Julie wrote this song in memory of a wonderful friend, bassist Matthew Sperry. He played many types of music, including klezmer and avant-garde, and was a Red Hot Chachka for several years. He died in a tragic accident in 2003. We take this tune outside as a nod to Matthew.
7::Der Rabbi in der Arbes Gortn (Tony Phillips © 2007) 2:30
Tony's affection for Southern old-time music has inspired klezmerized versions from some classic Americana sources. This one derives from a song that Uncle Dave Macon recorded in 1927: I'm up on the hillside / Rakin' up leaves / The rabbi's in the pea patch / Eatin' up the peas.
8::Tanz Medley (Traditional, arr. Red Hot Chachkas © 2007) 6:34
We learned three favorite traditional melodies from Josh Horowitz's wonderful recordings with Budowitz. Beckerman's Hora is a slow, limping 3/4 dance, recorded in 1923 by clarinetist Shloimke Beckerman with the Abe Schwartz Orchestra as "Trinkt Briderlach Lechayim" (Drink Brothers, Cheers). Belf's Chosidl is a walking-tempo dance that typically was passed along aurally from musician to musician, most notably Belf's Orchestra, with different names in different times and places. Pedotser's Tants is a hopke or hopping dance from nineteenth century composer Aron Moyshe "Pedotser" Kholodenko, who lived in Ukraine.
9::Sha! (Traditional, arr. Red Hot Chachkas © 2007) 3:41
At weddings and other simchas, we're likely to play this freylach, a traditional dance tune with frenzied energy, as the chosen and kalle (bride and groom), or other honored persons, are lofted in chairs, and family and friends dance wildly around them.
10::Little Gouda (Julie Egger © 2007) 5:00
When Julie is the Big Cheese at KlezCalifornia, her daughter Hannah is the Little Gouda, and this tune is for her. Julie originally wrote it a few years ago when she got a composition grant, and now we've added some flair and a bit of a jam. It is hot!
11::Third Glass of Wine (Rob Reich © 2007) 2:45
Under the influence of tunes such as "A Glezele Vayn" (A Glass of Wine), and "Nokh a Glezele Vayn" (Another Glass of Wine), Rob pours a new round with the "Third Glass of Wine." (For completeness, Tony promises a follow-up ... "Fourth Glass.")
12::Der Cholem Fun Yid (Traditional, arr. Rob Reich © 2007) 2:43
On a transcontinental plane trip, Rob heard and transcribed this stately hora from a 1955 recording by the great clarinetist Dave Tarras. Julie starts the melody on violin, and then it's passed around. Note the cool and unusual resolving figure.
13::Cholent (Julie Egger © 2007) 5:29
Cholent is a stew made on Friday for Shabbos. In our recipe, viola and tenor saxophone blend in a freygish improv. When rest of the band asked, "What should we do?" Julie just said, "You'll figure it out." Oy, here we go! Latin and Middle-Eastern flavors develop, with jammy characteristics, and a smoky finish.
14::Sholom (Julie Egger © 2007) 3:23
After the last Intifada, Julie felt overwhelmed by the Middle East situation, and composed this piece to address her hopelessness. "Sholom" is the Yiddish spelling of the Hebrew shalom (peace). She hopes that the Powers That Be will hear it, and that it will bring peace. Featuring Tony on octave mandolin, Rob on guitar, and Barb on C flute.
15::Little Rabbi (Tony Phillips © 2007) 3:08
old-time tune refashioned by Tony, this one based on "Little Rabbit,
Where's Your Mammy?," which Crockett's Kentucky Mountaineers recorded
around 1928, and a Bugs Bunny cartoon featured in the thirties. There
are many different versions, but ours is even more different, and makes
a nice sher.
This tune comes from a CD by a contemporary Turkish group, Yansimalar. Alto flute and octave mandolin substitute here for ney and gitar-tanbur. The tune has some very nice twists, but Turkish weblink to "Click here for English" didn't work, so we can't say much about it.
17::Shofar (Barbara Speed © 2007) 4:18
is a ram's horn used in Jewish ritual, sounded on solemn occasions.
Barbara wanted to write a stately klezmer hora, with its slow, limping
3/4 rhythm. Once again other styles crept in; this time we seem to be
in the company of some friendly Irish folk! Barbara is very moved by
this rendition of her melody.
An improvised genre-bender, doing the time warp to a yiddish hora vamp. Recorded at Chris K's castle on the hill in West Transylvania, with our usual klezmer instruments transplanted by the classic garage band sounds of tenor sax, Zeta electric violin, "krekhts-baby" Fender 5-string electric mandolin, and an organ solo squeezed from Rob's accordion.
Total time = 72 minutes