A NIGHT IN THE OLD MARKETPLACE is a collection of 21 songs by Klezmer giant Frank London with lyrics by Glen Berger. Performed by an array of stars including Manu Narayan, Lorin Sklamberg, They Might be Giants, Susan McKeown, and Craig Weddron, this extraordinary score mixes Jewish, jazz and world beats. London helped transform Jewish music through his work with The Klezmatics, the Hasidic New Wave, and his Klezmer Brass Allstars. Now he takes Klezmer solidly into the 21st century with this boldly original music created for Alexandra Aron’s theatrical adapation of I.L. Peretz’s Yiddish play.
Frank London is highly acclaimed as standing at the pinnacle of Jewish music and for those unfamiliar with his gifts, A NIGHT IN THE OLD MARKETPLACE is a wonderful place to start. This CD is a recording of a theatrical work that sets the revered 1907 Yiddish play of the same name by L.L. Peretz. Setting the bizarre tale to music that combines Jewish music, jazz, classical, rock and just about every other form of music from the 20th century into a highly entertaining mix, London has created a solid hit.
The texture of the play is highly reminiscent of the musical works of Kurt Weill, with special emphasis on 'The Threepenny Opera', as well as the old vaudeville klezmer concerts. The music is written by Frank London and the lyrics are by Glen Berger. The simple staging is allowed due to the small pit band required - Tuba/bass, guitar/banjo/mandolin, keyboards/accordion, and drums. The cast of singers (rather singer/actors) represents some amazing talent including Susan McKeown, Manu Narayan, Lorin Sklamberg, Craig Wedren and other singers well known to both Broadway and bands/groups of a great variety.
The production brought to CD is as complete a transfer of a stage work to recording venue as we are likely to hear. Frank London has created a specialized work that thankfully brings to our attention the rich heritage of klezmer and Yiddish theater, and if this beautifully performed and produced recording is any indication of the value of the stage work, we should be seeing multiple traveling productions of A NIGHT IN THE OLD MARKETPLACE. Moody, atmospheric, extremely creative and of course, entertaining both theatrically and aurally. Highly Recommended. - Grady Harp, June 07...
This project began almost a decade ago when I read Y.L. Peretz’s 1907 Yiddish masterpiece A NIGHT IN THE OLD MARKETPLACE, a sprawling Jewish ghost story reflecting hundreds of years of Jewish life and folklore. Peretz called the work “ a tragic carnivalspiel”, a fitting description for his bizarre parade of people, spirits and corpses in a Polish shtetl. Being a theater director, I wanted to reach the deep emotional currents that flowed under this chaotic and philosophical play, and decided to approach it through music. I called Frank London, one of NY’s most exciting klezmer musicians and composers. We met early one morning for coffee at an East Village café for what should have been an hour. I got home after dark that night. I called my friend, playwright Glen Berger, recounted the day-long conversation and asked him to join the project as lyricist. In the subsequent years, Frank, Glen and I have worked on this material. We have wrestled with Peretz’s text, his characters, his absurd yet deeply human vision of life’s apparent meaninglessness…while slowly this glorious music has simmered, grown, and exploded around us. The music on this CD is our response to the challenges set forth a hundred years ago by a visionary Jewish writer. It is with enormous gratitude and great delight that I present this album made possible by Roger Davidson and Soundbrush Records. I would like to thank every musician and singer for contributing their astounding talents. Most especially I thank Frank and Glen for their brilliant work and continued devotion to this strange and wondrous material.
November 2006, NYC