All selections traditional, arranged by Segelstein, Brotman and Horowitz unless otherwise indicated.
Produced by Cookie Segelstein, Joshua
Horowitz, Stuart Brotman
Cookie Segelstein-Violin, Viola
With Eastern European roots that go back centuries, when Jews and Gentiles made music together before anyone thought of calling it “world music”, Veretski Pass offers a unique and exciting combination of virtuosic musicianship and raw energy that has excited concertgoers across the world. Between the three members of this band, there are eight instruments on stage; violin, viola, two tsimbls (hammered dulcimer) , 19th century button accordion, bass, bassetl (three stringed bass), basy (three stringed Polish folk cello) and baraban (Jewish style drum).
Playing in an unbound, energetic “village style”, this band of veterans plays klezmer music of historical Eastern Europe on original instruments; melodies from Ukraine, Carpathian-Ruthenia, Bessarabia and Rumania. Much of this rare music has been gleaned from field recordings gathered by the musicians themselves in numerous trips throughout Europe. With its colorful instrumentation and unique arrangements, this seminal ensemble carries on the ancient tradition of klezmer musicians, playing music of all kinds, but with a recognizable Jewish sound.
Carefully researched regional styles combined with unrestrainable energy gives this group it’s unique sound, which has been called “raw, naked and unashamed”. The music is always fresh, because nothing is fixed except the style. Veretski Pass is capturing audiences everywhere with it’s spontaneous and explosive renditions of the lost repertoire of Eastern European Jewry.
In exotic Eastern Europe, the roots of World Music go back centuries. Jews, Christians, and Moslems, Rumanians, Ukrainians, and Roma played music together in an atmosphere of sharing, in a multicultural area where professional musicians had to know as many musical styles as the diverse languages of the people with whom they lived and worked.
Confidently crossing the border between mature mastery and village madness, Veretski Pass, an ensemble of veteran klezmer artists, plays Old Country Music; melodies from Medieval Poland, dances from Bessarabia, Ruthenia, and Bukovina, music with origins in the Ottoman Empire, lands once fabled as the borderlands of the East and the West.
This virtuosic group of musical eccentrics synthesizes raw energy and polished musicianship to produce music of unusual depth and power, with fire and finesse, warmth and wonder, in a variety of traditional sonorities. A full palette of complementary tone colours pours from expertly played violin, viola, bass viol, button accordion, bass drum, and tsimbl. The tsimbl, or cimbalom, rarely heard by western audiences, is a chromatic hammered dulcimer, which for hundreds of years rivaled the violin for primacy in Jewish and Gypsy orchestras.
Veretski Pass invites audiences young and old to discover in the lost repertoire of Eastern European Jewry a nearly forgotten musical world, stately and serene, deeply felt and moving, unbound and energetic; music born again, raw, naked, and unashamed.
Cookie Segelstein, 19th Century violin and viola, received her Masters degree in Viola from The Yale School of Music in 1984. She is principal violist in Orchestra New England and assistant principal in The New Haven Symphony Orchestra. Cookie teaches klezmer fiddling at Living Traditions' KlezKamp and The Albuquerque Academy, has been on staff twice at Centrum's Festival of American Fiddle Tunes in Port Townsend, Wash., and teaches a klezmer class at Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, Connecticut. She has performed with The Klezical Tradition, The Klezmatics, Klezmer Fats and Swing with Pete Sokolow and the late Howie Leess, Kapelye, Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Conservatory Band. She is a founding member of The Youngers of Zion with Henry Sapoznik, and has recently joined Budowitz. She has presented lecture demonstrations and workshops on klezmer fiddling all over the country, including at Yale University, University of Wisconsin in Madison, University of Oregon in Eugene, Pacific University and SUNY-Cortland. She was featured on the ABC documentary, “A Sacred Noise”, heard on HBO’s “Sex and the City”, and on several recordings including the Koch International label with Orchestra New England in “The Orchestral Music of Charles Ives”, The Klezical Tradition's “Family Portrait” and Adrianne Greenbaum’s “Fleytmuzik”. She is also active as a Holocaust educator and curriculum advisor and has been a frequent lecturer at the Women’s Correctional Facility in Niantic, CT. Cookie lives in Madison, Connecticut.
Joshua Horowitz, tsimbl and 19th Century accordion, received his Masters degree in Composition and Music Theory from the Academy of Music in Graz, Austria, where he taught Music Theory and served as Research Fellow and Director of the Klezmer Music Research Project for eight years. He is the founder and director of the ensemble Budowitz and has performed with Rubin and Horowitz, Brave Old World, Adrienne Cooper and Ruth Yaakov. Joshua taught Advanced Jazz Theory at Stanford University with the late saxophonist Stan Getz and is a regular teacher at KlezKamp, The Albuquerque Academy and Klez Kanada. His musicological work is featured in four books, including The Sephardic Songbook with Aron Saltiel and The Ultimate Klezmer, and he has written numerous articles on the counterpoint of J.S. Bach. His recordings with Budowitz, the Vienna Chamber Orchestra. Rubin & Horowitz, Alicia Svigals, Adrianne Greenbaum and Fialke have achieved international recognition and he is the recipient of more than 40 awards, including the Prize of Honor for his orchestral composition, Tenebrae, presented by the Austrian government. Beside his work as a musician, he led the first post-WWII music therapy group at the pioneering Beratungszentrum in Graz, Austria. He is currently working on a book of his essays for Scarecrow Press. Joshua lives in Berkeley, California.
bass, basy, and baraban, has been an accomplished performer, arranger and recording
artist in the ethnic music field for over 35 years. He holds a B.A. in music
from the University of California at Los Angeles, and has taught at KlezKamp,
Buffalo on the Roof, the Balkan Music and Dance Workshops and KlezKanada and
has been recording, touring, and teaching New Jewish Music with world class
ensemble Brave Old World since 1989. Long admired as a versatile soloist and
sensitive accompanist in traditional and pop music circles, he has toured and
recorded with Canned Heat, Kaleidoscope, Geoff and Maria Muldaur and played
cimbalom with Ry Cooder at Carnegie Hall. Stu appeared in the Los Angeles production
of Ghetto, the San Francisco production of Shlemiel the First, and performs
frequently in ethnic music specialty roles for TV and film. A founding member
of Los Angeles' Ellis Island Band, he has been a moving force in the Klezmer
revival since its beginning. He produced The Klezmorim's Grammy nominated album,
Metropolis. He toured with the Yiddisher Caravan, a federally funded Yiddish
folklife show, and has performed with The Klezmorim, Kapelye, Andy Statman,
the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Davka, The San Francisco Klezmer Experience,
Khevrisa and Itzhak Perlman. Stuart lives in Berkeley, California.
The violin, played by Cookie Segelstein, a 19th C. Maggini copy, remained the representative instrument of klezmer music right up until the beginning of the 20th Century, when it was replaced by the clarinet as the “quintessentially Jewish” instrument. Early documents from the 16th Century even show the icon of a violin as the emblem for a klezmer guild. Older styles of bowing, fingering, phrasing and ornamenting, imititating various gestures of East Ashkenazic synagogue singing, were considered lost and forgotten until just recently. These techniques form an integral part of the unique sound of Veretski Pass.
The viola, also
called Groyse Fidl [Yid. Big Fiddle], Sekund, Kontra or Zsidó Bratsch
[Hun.], played by Cookie Segelstein, is typically used for the constant playing
of chords in a rhythmic style. According to descriptions by Gypsies throughout
Romania and Hungary, Jews typically used various types of this chord instrument,
with either 3 or 4 strings. The function of string accompaniment fell out of
use with the increased inclusion of wind instruments in the klezmer ensembles
around the end of the 19th Century, and although still commonly used in the
folk music of Hungarian minorities throughout Romania, Cookie Segelstein is
the only one to have explored the viola as a solo instrument in klezmer music.
The bass, played by Stuart Brotman, made in 1822, is frequently seen in early depictions of klezmer ensembles from the 16th Century, often strapped around the shoulder to enable processional playing. The instrument fell completely out of use by the beginning of the 20th Century - a fact that is difficult to understand, given its versatility. Rather than merely taking over a schematized bass, the bass in Veretski Pass weaves in and out of the bass and tenor role, even interacting abundantly with the melody in the lower octave. It provides the very distinct “moaning” sound typical in klezmer music, through frequent use of glissandi and speech-oriented articulation. The short bow also enables variegated articulation and the three gut strings lend Veretski Pass its unique driving sound.
The baraban, (Yid. drum) was reconstructed by the Remo company under the supervision of Stuart Brotman. It has two heads with a cymbal mounted on its top, which is commonly played by a fork or spoon. The Poik provides the backbeat for dancing tunes. In the hands of a skilled player, it can provide an endless array of sounds, at times mimicking the human voice.
The Carpathian flute
played by Stu is known in Romania as the tilinca. It is an end-blown flute without finger holes, a simple wooden tube sharpened on one end to form the mouthpiece. It is blown in such a manner as to produce overtones; the end is opened or closed with one finger to select even or odd harmonics.
Veretski Pass brings a unique approach of teaching to the world music workshop. Just as an ensemble must seamlessly integrate the resources of individual players to produce a combined sound, this group of klezmer music veterans presents a team teaching model to facilitate the most successful results in student saturation after an amazingly short amount of time.
Stressing traditional ways of learning folk music, this trio removes the fear of learning by ear, and guides students through a tested method of recognizing and reproducing modal patterns, modulations, and melodic and rhythmic variations. Workshop participants are given the key to unlock the mystery of improvisation in klezmer music; ornaments, melodic fills, rhythmic and cadential variation and spontaneous ensemble arrangement. Above all, proven techniques for keeping musical energy through cross-rhythms, asymmetry, and syncopation are made accessible through exercises and examples.
While some of the courses offered in the workshop model are individually taught, by far the most effective are the classes with all three members at the helm. For example, a group ensemble will be led by Josh, with the other two roaming as satellites, offering pointers throughout the ensemble; Cookie hovering over the melody instruments with pointers for ornamentation, and Stu helping the trombones and bass player with moving lines. This approach has been recognized by participants as the most helpful way to integrate newly learned skills into an immediately applicable ensemble experience.