Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Two New CD Reviews

I have always appreciated the beauty of Chabad's niggunim and felt that over-produced recordings that feature the use of synthesizers did them a great disservice. The 2001 piano renditions of these niggunim contained on "Songs of Our Souls" by Richard Samuels was the last time in my memory that someone did these niggunim justice.

C Lanzbom and Noah Solomon's recent release "The Chabad Sessions", however, has once again allowed us to appreciate these niggunim for what they are. In the liner notes, Noah Solomon wrote, "Although we took some musical liberties with intros and the music surrounding the melodies, we tried to keep the purity and essence of the songs true and as close as I remembered from my childhood."

Elsewhere in the liner notes Noah Solomon's explained the source of his affinity for Chabad niggunim:

"With this recording I went back in time to my early childhood years. My parents moved to Israel when I was four years old and we settled in Moshav Modi'm. I was sent to a Chabad School in the nearby city of Lod. Singing is a big part of the Lubavitch traditions: it was there that I first experienced singing spiritual melodies within a large group."

I highly recommend this CD. What makes it so enjoyable are Noah Solomon's vocals and the high quality of the musicianship. I especially liked the Sephardic feel to the songs "V'Chol Karnei" and "Ato Hokeil" which features a slide guitar accompaniment.

I am ashamed to admit that I had never listened to C Lanzbom and Noah Solomon's music until I heard this CD, but now I will be sure to check out their other CDs as well as the CDs from Soulfarm.

Overall Rating = A

I had great hopes for the new CD "Ananim" from The Nochi Krohn Band. While I listened to this CD for the first time as I ran on my treadmill, and another few times commuting to and from work, my overall impression did not change.

Unfortunately, not too many songs on this CD stick out in my mind as being memorable. Much of it sounds similar to other recent Jewish music releases.

"V'Nikasi" is by far my favorite song on this CD, and I was amazed when I read the liner notes that explain the story behind it,

"On December 1, 2001, my brother Shimshi and I went with our friend Reuven to a busy outdoor cafe in Yerushalayim. The cafe was crowded that night, and our usual table outside was unavailable. We opted to sit inside, directly behind our regular table, rather than wait until our table became available. Soon after we sat down, two suicide bombers blew themselves up thirty feet away, killing eleven. Miraculously, the three of us walked away without physical injury. As for the two young men sitting at our usual table: one suffers from severe brain damage to this day, and the soul of the other was taken back to our Creator. I dedicate this song in the memory of Moshe Michael Dahan z"l, Hy"d."

I would like to give this CD a higher review, but I cannot. There is certainly potential here still waiting to be tapped. Perhaps we will hear this in their next release.

Overall Rating: B-

Update: After listening to this CD again today I determined I was a bit harsh with my review and have updated the overall rating to a B-. Songs such as "Mah Rabu", "Ki Heym Chayanu", and "Uvney" are certainly worth listening to.


At October 18, 2006 at 10:00:00 AM EDT, Blogger Bob Miller said...

FYI, this is a very well done solo piano CD of Chabad tunes:

At October 18, 2006 at 10:03:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Bob: You are 100% correct. I like this one as well and have a copy in my CD collection.

At October 18, 2006 at 6:11:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

I've always liked Yaron Gershovsky's renditions.

At October 18, 2006 at 6:43:00 PM EDT, Blogger Mottel said...

After listening to the samplings from the CD, I must say that I'm quite disappointed . . . While music itself is nice, the songs, are for the most part, rather unoriginal.
Yes Keli Ato and Rachamana are great niggunim , but they seem to be on almost every Lubavitcher CD out there . . .
With so many hundreds of Lubavitcher Niggunim out there, gems waiting to be given a new life, why must we just rehash the same classics?

At October 19, 2006 at 10:37:00 AM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...


At October 19, 2006 at 10:47:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At October 19, 2006 at 10:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: I thought that their CD was great and have added a link to their site on my sidebar.

At October 22, 2006 at 1:03:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Simple Jew.
I am wondering what other recent releases the Nochi Krohn album is similar to. I cant say that I have heard such well written and produced music in, well as long as I can remember. But if there is alot of similarly great stuff out there, please lead me too it.

At October 22, 2006 at 7:53:00 PM EDT, Anonymous mochassid said...


I think you are being harsh on Nochi. I think the CD is considerably better than a B-. There is a tremendous amount of originality in the arrangements and they touch on many different styles of music.

While I think this CD will also appeal to some Shiny Shoe fans, I think it is a lot better than the run of the mill stuff. And, finally, keep in mind that Nochi is only a kid. I think he is only 24.

At October 23, 2006 at 4:49:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

MoChassid: I appreciate your feedback and will give it another listen.

At October 23, 2006 at 6:39:00 AM EDT, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Anonymous: To be honest, it reminds me a lot of Blue Fringe.

At October 31, 2006 at 3:31:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

blue fringe? i mean you can't possibly be serious. if you are then you probably shouldn't be reviewing music.

At October 31, 2006 at 6:52:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

Who did you think they sound like?

At November 1, 2006 at 3:14:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't think of anyone similar to them. I don't know if you are familiar with not jewish music but Blue Fringe just copies the Goo Goo Dolls. They definitely don't sound like that. And I don't think they are your typical jewish band either. It is too musicaly oriented. Meaning- they don't just focus on a persons outstanding voice. Rather there is more music involved.

At November 1, 2006 at 6:31:00 AM EST, Blogger A Simple Jew said...

They certainly are not just focused on a person with a good voice, but quite honestly I don't think they are all that different from many other recent Jewish music releases. You are entitled to your opinion though.


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