New CD Nign of Reb Mendel Sept. 15, 2010

Nign of Reb Mendel CD CoverNew CD Release September 15, 2010!

Joel Rubin Ensemble featuring Rabbi Eli Silberstein

The Nign of Reb Mendel: Hasidic Songs in Yiddish

(Traditional Crossroads CD 4342, New York 2010)

For more information, visit Traditional Crossroads

The Nign of Reb Mendel is a continuation of Joel Rubin’s exploration of the intersection between the Jewish instrumental klezmer and Hasidic vocal traditions that began with Midnight Prayer. Whereas Midnight Prayer featured instrumental versions of a number of Hasidic nigunim, The Nign of Reb Mendel features a traditional Hasidic singer, Rabbi Eli Silberstein, as an integral member of the ensemble. Also featured is the wonderful fiddle playing of David Chernyavsky.

The singing of nigunim has occupied a unique position in Hasidic life since the emergence of the movement in mid-18th century eastern Europe. Songs and, especially, pure melody are seen as being capable of establishing a direct connection to God, without the interference of text. These beautiful melodies, which range from introspective shepherd’s laments to ecstatic dance tunes, have been created over the centuries by Hasidic rabbis and musicians and may be sung at many occasions: in the synagogue, at the Hasidic rebbe’s table, at sabbath and holiday gatherings, at life-cycle celebrations like the wedding, in the home, or today as popular music of Jews the world wide. It is the Yiddish song repertoire as it was cultivated among Hasidic and other religious Jews of eastern European heritage for over 250 years that forms the core of The Nign of Reb Mendel. Here largely unknown gems, such as the Nign of R. Meir Shapiro of Lublin and Geloybt bistu (Praised Are You), are presented alongside chestnuts such as the Dudele of Rabbi Levi Yitzchak of Berditchev and Vos vet zayn? (What Will Happen?). By combining old Hasidic nigunim with the sound of instrumental klezmer music, the ensemble reunites two worlds, creating an aesthetic close to that which might perhaps have been heard by the Ba’al Shem Tov (founder of the Hasidic movement) or R. Shneur Zalman (founder of Chabad Hasidism) and their descendents, yet which is thoroughly contemporary at the same time.

Rabbi Silberstein stems from several generations of Russian Hasidim and is a world renowned religious scholar and singer in the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic community. His singing style and repertoire display this tradition as it is rarely heard outside of the religious communities. The CD is the outcome of the four years Rubin spent documenting Silberstein’s repertoire and the two performing together at events throughout the United States. The Nign of Reb Mendel was recorded in Ithaca, New York by Alex Perialas, best known as the producer and engineer of platinum-selling albums by the heavy metal bands Metallica and Anthrax.

European release: November 15