New York Music Daily

Global Music With a New York Edge

Tag: ny gypsy allstars

A Rare Manhattan Show by Intense, Hotshot Bukharian Guitarist Roshel Rubinov

Roshel Rubinov is the Jimi Hendrix of Bukharian Jewish party music. He’s an edgy, spectacularly fast, often haunting player, both on guitar and the region’s tanbur lute. While he’s best known for his longtime association with legendary Bukharian crooner Ezro Malakov, he’s well known throughout the Bukharian diaspora as a solo artist and songwriter. His chromatically edgy, distinctively incisive style birngs to mind Yenemi rocker Dudu Tassa as well as high-velocity Balkan groups like the NY Gypsy All-Stars. While Rubinov maintains a busy schedule at weddings and celebrations throughout the Bukharian community in Queens, he’s also leading his band in a rare Manhattan performance on December 9 at 7 PM at Elebash Hall at CUNY, 365 5th Ave. just north of 34th St. Cover is $25.

His performance at the Center for Jewish Culture with the Ezro Malakov Makam Ensemble earlier this year was typical in that it was at a party, in this case for the release of Evan Rapport’s book Greeted with Smiles: Bukharian Jewish Music and Musicians in New York, sponsored by the Center for Traditional Music and Dance. As a singer, Malakov projects in a strong, soulful, melismatic baritone, often in Persian as is common with much of the music from his native land: the Jewish population there  has historically served as vitial a role in musical cross-pollination there as it has right here at home. That show opened with a slow, mysteriously slinky ballad, almost a dirge, infused with dark washes of accordion over a boomy tombak drumbeat, looking further to the Middle East than Central Asia for its brooding tonalities. From there the band picked up the pace with a trickily syncopated, unexpectedly funky number, seemingly a mashup of Andalucian and Russian klezmer music (being on the Silk Road, urban Bukharians got a rich exposure to sounds seldom heard beyond that region).

Rubinov’s spiky, eerily dancing tanbur lute work fueled the night’s next number, a sentimentally crescendoing ballad. The group went back in a moody direction with a starkly hypnotic, minor-key waltz that unexpectedly shifted into a lilting ballad and then back and forth between the two contrasting themes. By the time the septuagenarian Malakov finally took the stage to a roar of applause, late in the set, it was almost anticlimactic, considering how much energy Rubinov had already generated.

But all that’s Rubinov’s rustic fok side. His harder-rocking stuff is all over youtube. Check out this slinky, surfy, epic wedding video, this more folk-rock oriented number, and this one, which really captures him at the peak of his powers, in his element. There are also a few of his songs up at Bandcamp if you don’t want to have to deal with the hassle of muting the youtube ads.

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Sherita Bring Their Haunting, Intense Balkan-Inspired Sounds to the East Village

Sherita play a mix of their own haunting, slinky arrangements of otherworldly Balkan and Turkish folk songs. along with pensively expansive, often hypnotic original material. With the off-the-cuff electricity of a first-class jamband, sizzling chops and the purist attention to detail of serious musicologists, they’re one of New York’s best bands. Their name is not Middle Eastern but Brooklynese: Sherita is the pink dinosaur on the billboard over the garage at the corner of Atlantic and Classon Avenues in Bed-Stuy. The group’s most recent Barbes show was one of the most riveting performances by any band in this city this year: you’ll see it here on the list of New York City’s best concerts in a couple of days. The band’s next gig is Saturday night, January 3 at around 11:30 at Drom, followed by the more explosive and similarly improvisational New York Gypsy All-Stars. Cover is a measly ten bucks.

At their Barbes gig a few weeks back, percussionist Renée Renata Bergan sang many of the songs in a cool, richly modulated,  sometimes wounded alto as she tapped out beats that ranged from skeletally tricky to sepulchrally boomy. Clarinetist Greg Squared saves his pyrotechnics for his other project, the considerably louder Raya Brass Band: this group gives him the chance to explore more pensive, lower-register terrain. Throughout the set, his lines intertwined or echoed alongside Rima Fand’s alternately stark and kinetic violin while oudist Adam Good added similarly thoughtful, often brooding solos when he wasn’t holding the songs together with his intricate picking.

Bergan sang their eerily dancing, chromatically bristling, Bulgarian-tinged opening number, Fand firing off a gorgeously spiraling solo before the clarinet took the song in a more carefree, laid-back direction. Good opened the second number with a somber improvisation; Bergan led them through a couple of stately verses before a long, moody, atmospheric jam, violin and clarinet trading echoes a la Philip Glass. They followed a bouncy uptempo dance with a suspenseful All Tomorrow’s Parties-style dirge featuring a long misterioso oud solo. The rest of the set featured a slinky Greek vocal duet; a longingly soaring nocturne sung by Fand; a gently enveloping waltz; and a sardonically biting Greg Squared original, Surrounded by Sarahs (a New York phenomenon if there ever was one) that made a long launching pad for searing clarinet riffage. They wound up with an energetic anthem by Fand that blended elements of flamenco and the Middle East; she explained that it was inspired by her mom, who has a habit of getting up in the middle of the night to write down poetry that she’s literally dreamed up.

NY Gypsy Festival All-Access Passes Now Half-Price

If you’re a promoter, how do you move a bunch of festival passes if the festival is already underway and they aren’t sold out? Sell ’em at half price. Which turns out to be an absurdly good deal, if music in dark minor keys is your thing. With four shows remaining this year, all of them at Drom, the $22.50 NY Gypsy Festival half-price pass comes to a little more than $5 a show. Remaining concerts include the NY Gypsy All-Stars with guest guitarist Marco Calliari on 9/20 at 8; Quebecois gypsy powerhouse Roma Carnivale on 9/22 at 11:30; flamenco dancer Elena Andujar with her ensemble on 9/28 at 11; and luminous Spanish flamenco-jazz pianist Ariadna Castellanos on 9/30 at 7:15. Assuming you bought advance tix for all four, cover without the pass would be $55.

This year’s remaining NY Gypsy Festival show that’s not at Drom (and sadly not part of the pass package) is on 9/22 with scorching Romanian gypsy brass orchestra Fanfare Ciocarlia at the Schimmel Center at Pace University downtown, 3 Spruce St. between Park Row and Gold St. Full-price tix are pricy – $35 – but the band’s offering a free album download with all advance ticket purchases; tix are available online and at the box office.