Category: Popular entertainment

Gone but not forgotten – the Barry Sisters

By , January 5, 2015 8:50 pm
Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters

Bagelman Sisters/Barry Sisters early photo with Claire Barry on the right.

Yiddish music icons, Merna and Claire Barry, entertained generations of Jewish Americans with their jazzy versions of Yiddish songs.

For over 40 years the Bagelman Sisters, later known as the Barry Sisters, were the darlings of Jewish entertainment. Their recordings could be found in almost every Jewish household in the 1950s and 60s. The younger of the two sisters, Merna, passed away in 1976. The older sister, Claire Barry, died on November 22, 2014 in Hollywood, FL at 94. Click here for full NY Times obituary.

Who were the Barry Sisters?

Two beautiful girls, dressed in the latest fashion, hair  perfectly coiffed, singing with sultry voices that could make your heart leap.

Born in New York, the two sisters were originally known as the Bagelman Sisters. Many saw them as the Yiddish answer to the popular Andrews Sisters in the 1940s. They combined old Jewish folk songs and Yiddish Theater ditties with swing arrangements and perfect harmony. When Clara and Minnie changed their names to Claire and Merna The Bagelman Sisters became The Barry Sisters. They have often been credited with creating Yiddish Swing, a music genre which did not exist previously.

The glamorous Barry Sisters were regular guests at Yiddish radio programs like Yiddish Melodies in Swing. They toured with the Ed Sullivan Show to the Soviet Union and performed in Israel in October 1962.

The popularity of their catchy and jazzy tunes may have paved the way for the Broadway hit, Fiddler on the Roof, and the klezmer revival of the late 70s.

Listed below are some of their most popular tunes. The Judaica Sound Archives has 41 recordings by this dynamic duo of Yiddish music.

Abi Gezunt (Stay healthy)

In Meine Oigen Bistie Shain (To me you are beautiful)

Channah from Havannah (A Gala Concert with Moishe Oysher album, no. 3).

Bublitchki (About the last bagel)

Dem Neyem Sher (At Home With album, no. 2).

Roumania

Click here for more Barry Sisters recordings. Due to copyright concerns only snippets can be heard on our public website.  Full versions are available to users of the RSA Research Station.

 

RSA guest blogger, Niels Falch, is a PhD candidate at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and is currently writing a dissertation on the influence of Jewish music in American popular songs.

Hanukkah music for grown-ups

By , December 5, 2014 3:13 pm

Kenny ellisEveryone loves the traditional Hanukkah songs we all learned in childhood.  We teach these songs to our children and our grandchildren. L’dor v’dor.

Today we highlight an album that encourages us to experience Hanukkah as an adult. Embracing the mood and sounds of Swing and Jazz era music, Kenny Ellis has created a truly one-of-a-kind album.

The album includes many old favorites and two wonderful medleys that evoke an upbeat Post WW2 vibe. This is Hanukkah music as you have never heard it before.

Hanu-calypso is so funny that it just might  replace Adam Sandler’s Hanukkah Song as my go-to Hanukkah ditty.

For more information about Kenny Ellis or to purchase this CD, click here.

For more Hanukkah songs,click here.

Vinyl record give-away a big hit with FAU students

By , October 23, 2014 6:52 pm

 

FAU students Allyson and Alexander browse through vinyl LPs.

FAU students Allyson and Alexander browse through vinyl LPs.

Over 300 FAU students and invited guests participated in the Recorded Sound Archives Vinyl Record Give-away event on October 20 and 21, 2014 at the Wimberly Library’s fifth floor on FAU’s Boca Raton campus.

More than 1,500 vinyl LP records were distributed as well as cassette tapes, and 45 rpm records (singles).

Established in 2002 to collect, organize and protect vintage audio recordings, the RSA houses more than 250,000 classical, jazz, Judaic and other vintage recordings, making FAU Libraries one of the top academic libraries in the nation for sound recordings.

Happy students,Kelly and Sydney,  are looking forward to sharing their vinyl finds with their families.

Happy students,Kelly and Sydney, are looking forward to sharing their vinyl finds with their families.

All the recordings in the archives were donated to the university by collectors and institutions. Recent efforts to organize and inventory the back-log of thousands of donated recordings resulted in the identification of duplicate and excess records that were not needed for the RSA collection. The RSA regularly receives about 10,000 donated recordings each year.

Marianna never heard of Jack Benny but she was interested to find out.

Marianna never heard of Jack Benny but she was interested to find out.

Some students expressed disappointment when they learned that classic rock icons such as the Grateful Dead, Led Zeppelin, Van Halen and Alice Cooper were not among the recordings being offered. One student commented, “Man, these are really, really old records.”

Yet, they were scooping up albums by Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Jack Benny and Robert Goulet. “Why did you choose this record I asked?” Very often the answer was something like, “I’m not sure but I think I remember my grandmother mentioning that she liked this singer.” For many adults of my age these recordings represented a “walk down memory lane”, but for these students it was a treasure trove of discovery. They asked for historical information about shows like “My Fair Lady” and “Oklahoma.” They showed me recordings of operas and wanted to know if Leontyne Price or Robert Merrill were good singers.

William was happy to find this classic Simon and Garfunkle album.

William was happy to find this classic Simon and Garfunkel album.

A group of young men scooped up a bunch of 45 rpm records and were surprised when I mentioned to them that they would need a special insert to fit in the large hole in order to play them on a standard phonograph. Many students said they had phonograph players and some said that they would go out and buy one just so they could listen to the music they had collected. A few lucky students were able to find used turntables at the give-away which also included several pieces of used equipment.

Romance is in the Air: Efrem Zimbalist & Alma Gluck

By , June 25, 2014 9:26 am
Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Alma Gluck and Efrem Zimbalist

Before there was Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt…before there was Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall…before there was Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton…There was Efrem Zimbalist and Alma Gluck.

A little over100 years ago, a nice Jewish boy who happened to be a violin genius  met a lovely Jewish young woman who was making a name for herself as a singer. I guess you could say that when these two Jewish superstars of classical music fell in love they were destined to make beautiful music together.

The Zimbalist-Gluck romance provided lots of material for the gossips of their day. While the idea of such a wonderful pairing of talents was thrilling, there were those who pointed out that Gluck was six years older, as well as a divorcee with a daughter. Scandalous!

 

Read more about Alma Gluck’s relationship with Efrem Zimbalist.

Read more about Efrem Zimbalist.

Browse 40 recordings the talented couple made together.

Kultur 2014

By , February 10, 2014 10:46 am

 March 1 – 8, 2014

6th Annual Kultur Celebration

Click here for full schedule and more information

                                                      

                    Florida Atlantic University Libraries

 

Festival Highlights

Saturday, March 1, 2014 @ 7:00 p.m

Film: “Sholem Aleichem: Laughing in the Darkness”

Chock full of  humor, this documentary film explores the rebellious life of Sholem Aleichem as he experiences the tug of war between nostalgia and a modern Jewish identity.

 

Sunday, March 2, 2014 @ 3:00 p.m.

Klezmer Company Orchestra — ¡Jubano Jazz!

Energetic arrangements of Klezmer melodies fused with Latin percussion, Argentinean Tango and Afro-Cuban dance beats and revitalized classic songs from the Yiddish theatre.

 

 

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 @ 2:00 p.m.
Martin Bookspan Reminisces: My famous musical friends

Renowned PBS commentator of Live from Lincoln Center, Martin Bookspan is also a noted author,  and the well-known host for live radio broadcasts of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and New York Philharmonic. He shares personal stories and photographs about his friendships with legends such as Serge Koussevitzky, Leonard Bernstein, Isaac Stern, Jan Pierce, Richard Tucker and Michael Tilson Thomas. Presented in conjunction with the Judaica Sound Archives.

 

Thursday, March 6, 2014 @ 2:00 p.m.

Leonard Lehrman, pianist and Helene Williams, soprano, return to Kultur Festival with guest cantors from New York City: soprano Faith Steinsnyder and tenor David Perper performing a unique concert of “Jewish Opera” in various languages. Highlights include excerpts of Halévy’s famous La Juive, Spektor’s Lady of the Castle, Mandelbaum’s The Village, Blitzstein/Lehrman’s Tales of Malamud, and arias by Goldfaden.

RebbeSoul: Jewish roots, world music

By , January 14, 2014 10:04 am

Deeply emotional and rooted in the ancient songs of Judaism, the music of RebbeSoul brings a modern vibe that re-imagines the music of our ancestors. This is not your grandmother’s Jewish Music.  This is not some crazy mash-up of eclectic sounds.  This is spiritually-based music with modern sensibilities and a deep respect for the past.

After earning a degree in engineering, Bruce Burger (aka RebbeSoul)set off to explore L.A.’s music scene.

Leaving parental expectations and  upstate New York’s brilliant autumns and wintry snows behind him,  it was in L.A. that he finally found his sound….and his voice.

At the age of 22, after sharing a Shabbat dinner with an Orthodox family he was inspired to write “Sister Sarah.”  Despite having been a secular Jew for many years, this experience touched him so deeply that he was moved to take on the name RebbeSoul.

As he added the melodies of nigunim and prayers to his repertoire he made a decision. “Every time I play as RebbeSoul, I put something on my head….To the great Rebbes, a nigun, a melody, is something that comes from the heart and goes straight to heaven without anything getting in the way.  So when I do it, I want to make sure there is something on my head, out of respect.”

To strengthen his connection to the Jewish people even further, Burger made aliya in 2007. Now residing in Zichron Ya’acov, he is exploring his musical roots and enjoying where his musical journey is taking him.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU’s Wimberly Library is delighted to be able to add Bruce Burger as our newest JSA featured performer. Click on any album below.

 

Fiddler on the Roof

By , December 17, 2013 8:00 am

You may ask yourself… how did a Yiddish story by Sholem Aleichem, based on a surrealistic painting by Marc Chagal, become one of the world’s most popular shows?

You may ask yourself…. how could a 1964 Broadway musical touch audiences after 50 years?

But, of course…. if you know “Fiddler on the Roof” you wouldn’t have to ask!

“The Fiddler,” as depicted by Marc Chagal, symbolizes the struggle for survival and balance in a precarious world.  A precarious world?  That is something Jews know a little something about.

From Tevye’s confident reliance on “Tradition” to the sweet naiveté of “Matchmaker, Matchmaker;” from Tevye’s ultimate acceptance of his life in “If I Were a Rich Man”  to the bitter-sweet realization that life is an ever-changing landscape in “Sunrise, Sunset;” the collaboration of Jerry Bock (music) and Sheldon Harnick (lyrics) touches our hearts with one of life’s greatest lessons.

We yearn for stability and tradition while, at the same time, we are compelled to adapt to change.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries is proud of its role in preserving the traditions of Jewish culture despite our ever-changing world. Please consider making a financial contribution to help us fulfill our mission.

Click here to see albums and hear snippets.

Can “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience?

By , October 14, 2013 8:35 am

Vintage Jewish piano roll boxes

Player pianos, pianolas and piano rolls were all the rage during Prohibition. 

By the early 1920’s new advances in piano-roll technology gave rise to a complex, performance-oriented style of music that became the soundtrack of an era.

All types of music were recorded on piano rolls, from Ragtime  to folk songs; from Jazz to Cantorial masterpieces. So….can these “Boardwalk Empire” era Jewish piano rolls still find an audience in today’s  fast-paced electronic world?

Can these relics of another age resonate with a modern audience?

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries invited Bob Berkman, one of the last great piano roll aficionados, to demonstrate his skills before a live audience….and…..his appearance was a huge success!

Yet, relatively few people have ever had the pleasure of  attending  a live pianola concert featuring Bob Berkman and his authentic piano rolls.

A wonderful opportunity

Bob Berkman

Now the JSA is giving you the chance to peek behind the scenes, get a front row seat and enjoy the experience of a by-gone era.

These clips were created from video taken at Bob Berkman’s performance during FAU Library’s 2013 kultur festival by Alethea Perez, FAU Recorded Sound Archives operations coordinator.

(1) Bob Berkman explains how the pianola works.

(2) Bob Berkman sets up the pianola.

(3) Bob Berkman shares some historical facts about the pianola and plays some tunes.

Related Links:  Bio     Online Collection

 

 

Pianola pushed up to piano and ready to play.

 

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Sophie Tucker: Last of the Red-Hot Mamas

By , September 16, 2013 10:00 am

 

Known as the Last of the Red Hot Mamas, Sophie Tucker had a career that began in vaudeville, embraced the new jazz age of the 1920’s and lasted well into the 1960s.

Widely known for her bawdy humor (which may seem tame by today’s standards) and her big personality, she never lost touch with her Jewish roots.

Sophie Tucker ‘s original Decca rendition of My Yiddishe Momme, recorded in 1928, featured an English version on Side A and a Yiddish version on Side B.  Among the recordings she made on the Mercury label beginning in the 1950s was this rendition of My Mother’s Sabbath Candles, also in both English and Yiddish versions.

Sophie Tucker quotes

I couldn’t make [Momme] understand that it wasn’t a career that I was after. It was just that I wanted a life that didn’t mean spending most of it at the cookstove and the kitchen sink. (Some of the Days, 1945)

Everyone knew the theater was to be closed down, and a landmark in show business would be gone. That feeling got into the acts. The whole place, even the performers, stank of decay. I seemed to smell it. It challenged me. I was determined to give the audience the idea: why brood over yesterday? We have tomorrow. As I sang I could feel the atmosphere change. The gloom began to lift, the spirit which formerly filled the Palace and which made it famous among vaudeville houses the world over came back. That’s what an entertainer can do. (Concerning the November 19, 1932 closing of the Palace theater in NYC, i.e. the end of vaudeville.)

Selected items from our collection of Sophie Tucker recordings.

Sophie Tucker’s performance on The Ed Sullivan Show.

Autographed inside flap from copy of Tucker’s autobiography

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Molly Picon

By , May 20, 2013 2:38 pm

Defying expectations, changing the rules, and making us laugh.

The Judaica Sound Archives at FAU Libraries honors the work and life of Molly Picon. Compiling 58 of her earliest songs produced on 78 rpm records and four of her LP albums produced later in her career, the JSA invites you to revisit the talents of a truly great Jewish female icon.

Who was Molly Picon?

She was an actress, singer, and comedian whose career spanned over 70 years. Debuting in the Yiddish Theater at the age of 6 she emerged as a respected American actress, performing in Come Blow Your Horn (1963) with Frank Sinatra, and having starring roles on Broadway in Milk & Honey (1961) and  film, Fiddler on the Roof (1971).

Molly Picon’s career followed Yiddish culture from the shtetl into mainstream America. Small and very youthful-looking she often had to fight to be taken seriously. She wore male clothing as a disguise through most of her breakout performance in Yidl Mit’n Fidl (1936) and many of her other early roles, including the well-known “Yankele.” In today’s world she might be considered to be a voice for women’s rights.

Click here for Molly’s LP albums.

Click here for Molly’s 78 rpm recordings.

Click here to see film clip of a very young Molly Picon singing the title song from Yid’l Mit’n Fidl.

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