Essen by Paul Shapiro

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Saxophonist Paul Shapiro follows up the forward-thinking klezmer hybrids he unleashed on his previous Tzadik releases, MIDNIGHT MINYAN and IT’S IN THE TWILIGHT, by taking a different approach. Rather than grafting forms such as Dixieland and bebop onto traditional Jewish instrumental music, ESSEN delivers those Jewish folk forms in their pure, unadulterated form. The songs on ESSEN feature vocals as well, each of them spinning a narrative that evokes the humor and pathos of traditional Jewish culture, sometimes evoking the broad comedy of early-20th-century Yiddish theater or even the Borscht Belt. Of course, Shapiro’s fine horn work and ear for arrangements dazzle as well.

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