Category: Popular entertainment

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.

Hava Nagila (the movie) at FAU

By , March 20, 2013 11:31 am

See the movie about a song we all know.

This documentary is filled with nostalgia, humor, “Who knew?” information and old home movie clips (I could swear I saw my Aunt Sadie dancing at a Bar Mitzvah!)

Tracing the origins of Hava Nagila from the shtetls of Europe to Israel, and on to New York and Los Angeles, we come to understand how this song became a part of our family turning up at every Bar Mitzvah and wedding.

Cameos by Connie Francis, Harry Bellafonte, Irving Fields, Leonard Nimoy, and Glen Campbell feel like visits with old friends. Want a feel-good movie that will touch your heart? This movie is a must-see for anyone who knows how to dance the hora!

CLICK here for showtimes and tickets

777 Glades Road, Boca Raton, FL 33431 •

561.549.2600

 

Jewish music and arts festival at FAU

By , February 18, 2013 3:19 pm

March 2 – 8, 2013

Click here for full information about all Kultur events

 

 2nd Avenue Jazz n’ Jive

   Aaron Kula’s KCO

   Sunday, 3/3/13 @ 3pm

   Carole & Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium

   FAU Boca Raton Campus

 

My Friends Leonard Bernstein & Aaron Copland

Martin Bookspan

Tuesday, 3/5/13 @ 2pm

Wimberly Library 5th floor

FAU Boca Raton Campus

 

  KLEZMEROLA: Yiddish Music on the Pianola

   Bob Berkman

   Friday, 3/8/13 @ 2pm

   Wimberly Library 5th floor

   FAU Boca Raton Campus

   Click here to listen to Bob Berkman recordings

   Click here to find out more about experiencing “nostalgia with a twist”, old time good fun and a virtuoso performance unlike anything you have heard before.

 

Tickets: click here                                          Call 1-800-564-9539

 

Bob Berkman: Nostalgia with a twist

By , October 1, 2012 2:33 pm

Bob Berkman’s pianola brings a rich new sound to vintage early 20th century Jewish music

The first time I heard Bob Berkman’s CD, Klezmerola, I just couldn’t stop playing it. I loved the old time sound that Bob was able to achieve with his pianola. I loved the way the sound of the pianola (player piano) augmented the  impact of the music that had once defined a generation of Jews and now was fading from memory.

I am delighted that the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University can now boast a collection of 47 Jewish songs by America’s premier pianolist, Bob Berkman.

I wrote the following review in September 2008 for the Association of Jewish Libraries. After listening to the CD many times since then, I still feel the same way.

“Take an almost vanished technology (player pianos), add vintage Jewish music and stir with just a hint of ragtime and what do you get? Klezmerola! An absolutely delightful CD album that is fun, fresh and freylekh. In this album of “Jewish music from rare piano rolls” Bob Berkman does an incredible job of bringing the music to life with a vitality achieved by actually foot-pumping an old upright player piano. The accompanying 16 page booklet provides information about each song and about the rediscovery of Jewish piano rolls. Such old familiar Yiddish songs as “Odesser Bulgar,” “Yosel,” and “Die Griene Cosina” seem especially well-suited for Bob Berkman’s pianola interpretations. I would be hard pressed to choose a favorite track.  I loved them all!”

In the liner notes for his two volume CD, Klezmerola at the Yiddish Theater, Bob Berkman tells us that ” Piano roll manufacturers…were eager to record and sell current hits, and for attracting immigrant Jewish customers there was no greater source than Yiddish Theater…The market was never a large one…and surviving examples are rare.” The music on these three CDs took over 35 years to assemble.

The piano rolls only contain notes (like sheet music). Bringing them to life with dynamics, accents, phrasing, and emotion is the work of the pianolist, the person operating the player piano. Bob Berkman’s unique talent revitalizes this vintage music, providing a generous portion of nostalgia. . . . with a twist!

Bob Berkman’s love affair with the pianola began in 1975 when he was hired by QRS in Buffalo, NY, the world’s last remaining piano roll manufacturer. His talents brought him the opportunity to work on such films as Ragtime, The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas, and Reds ( in cooperation with  Stephen Sondheim). He has appeared on NPR, BBC, and CBS Sunday Morning.

Using a 1912 “push-up” portable pianola, Berkman effectively turns any piano into a player piano allowing him to perform  in venues all across America. In great demand as a speaker and performer, his unique and deeply personal work with Jewish rolls has been especially gratifying to him.  His important discovery of George Gershwin’s only Jewish piano roll and the haunting A Gitte Nacht by the obscure Samuel Perlstein are among his most treasured accomplishments.

For information about how to buy recordings by Bob Berkman, please click here.

Living in America

By , June 28, 2012 10:36 am

Now you can celebrate the 4th of July and your Jewish heritage at the same time.

This new compilation of songs from the Judaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries in Boca Raton, FL is about the American Jewish experience.

It contains  Yiddish songs recorded during the early 20th century and expresses a Jewish immigrant perspective on New York, Coney Island and other things distinctly American.

You will also hear American patriotic songs sung by Jewish performers, Mike Burstyn singing about America in Hebrew and, from FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives Vintage 78s Collection, a very young Frank Sinatra singing “America the Beautiful.”

Click on the image above to hear this special compilation of songs from the JSA.

1. My America’s Free: Written byJerome Lipman and Irving Lewis. Sung by Molly Picon and Seymour Rechtzeit with the Abraham Ellstein Orchestra and Dave Tarras on clarinet. This upbeat tune lists some of the many things to love about America…..especially freedom!

2. Ich Dank dir Got fur America: Sung by Liebele Waldman.

3. America: Sung by Yiddish Theater star, Josef Feldman.

4. Yankee Doodle: This well-known Anglo-American song from the revolutionary War era is sung by Jewish singer/educator, Judy Caplan Ginsburgh.

5. I’m Going to Miami: Benny Bell tells a story of his trip to Miami Beach, Florida by train.

6. Hot Dogs and Knishes: Aaron Lebedeff sings this comic Yiddish song about Coney Island, NY.

7. Hurray far NY: This recording is from a 1967 recording of Pesach Burstein’s Yiddish Theater performance from “The Vilna Komiker.”

8. America Ich Lieb Dich (America I Love You): Sung by Yiddish Theater star, Gus Goldstein.

9. Ragtime Fiddle: Written by Irving Berlin and sung by Simon Paskal

10. Carry Me Back to Old Virginny: Originally a song sung by Confederate soldiers during the Civil War, it was recast in 1878 from the slave’s perspective. This 1916 recording by Jewish opera star, Alma Gluck, is said to have been the first operatic celebrity recording to ever sell a million copies.

11. Tell That to the Marines: Written during WWI,  sung by Al Jolson.

12. God Bless the USA: This recordingis from the Judy Caplan Ginsburgh album, Musical America.

13. America America: Mike Burstyn’s tribute to the land of his birth sung in Hebrew.

14. America the Beautiful: This recording by a very young Frank Sinatra is from FAU’s Recorded Sound Archives Vintage 78rpm music collection.

Aaron Lebedeff: Yiddish comedy super-star

By , June 11, 2012 9:25 am

Aaron Lebedeff was a Yiddish theater super star whose popularity among Jews during the 1920s and 1930s made his name a household word.  More than 80 years before performers could go viral on the internet, Lebedeff was making a name for himself by driving audiences wild with his energetic and exuberant live performances. He was a super-star, like Mick Jagger, who was able to excite audiences and leave them wanting more.

His devil-may-care free spirit, love of life and allusions to sensual delights helped to create his exciting persona.  Whether dressed in traditional Russian garb and boots or formal attire with straw hat and cane, his dynamic presence always kept him the center of attention. He understood nostalgia for the shtetl and was able use it to rouse his audiences’ emotions. His best known recording, Roumania, Roumania, was originally released in 1925. His second version, recorded with Sholem Secunda and Dave Tarras in 1941, became a best-selling Yiddish recording during the 1940s and still brings a smile to almost everyone who hears it!

Because the JSA has received more copies of this recording than any other single 78 rpm disc, we regularly play it on our vintage 1924 Victrola for guests who visit us at FAU’s Wimberly Library in Boca Raton, FL.

Hot Dogs and Knishes! is a comic ditty with a catchy chorus that even includes a barking dog. Hot dogs and knishes, romance and Coney Island ….. you can almost smell the nostalgia. Lebedeff’s output of records was prolific. He recorded for Emerson, Brunswick, and Vocalion.

Born in Homel, White Russia, in 1873, Lebedeff made his NYC debut in October 1920 at Thomashevsky’s National Theater, located at Second Avenue and Houston Street on New York’s Lower East Side.  He was an instant sensation! His success and popularity grew throughout the 1920s and 1930s. During the 1940s and into the 1950s his career continued to thrive though revivals. He continued to perform until his death in 1960.

The Judaica Sound Archives has created this special Lebedeff online collection just for you!  It contains three LPs produced by Collectors Guild and ten songs recorded on 78rpm which are in the public domain. Users of the Judaica Sound Archives Scholars Research Station have access to 186 songs on 78 rpm discs and 12 LP albums.

If you would like to donate your recordings by Aaron Lebedeff or any other Jewish performer to the JSA, please click here.

Click here to listen to songs in the JSA online collection by Aaron Lebedeff.

Gladys Gewirtz: Pioneer of Jewish Children’s Music Dies

By , April 18, 2012 1:28 pm

Gladys Gewirtz circa 1965

Gladys Gewirtz  touched the lives of thousands of people who never met her. Her recordings were among the first that were digitized and played on the JSA website (www.fau.edu/jsa).  Over  60 years ago, Gladys Gewirtz, had the idea of creating recordings for young Jewish children. Together with her sister, Roz Grossman who wrote the lyrics and patter between songs, she produced recordings based on familiar fairy tales and nursery rhymes. The simple sing-along tunes are endearing and bring back early childhood memories to many listeners.

Gladys attended Julliard and Columbia University. She was music director of the first Camp Ramah, and taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary where she  inspired a generation of music teachers and counselors.

The sisters’ songs deal primarily with Jewish customs and holidays, and also celebrate the newly established State of Israel. Miriam Brosseau writes, “in Gewirtz’s record Mother Goose Songs for Jewish Children and Holiday Play Songs, she and narrator Eve Lippman inject Jewish themes into familiar American children’s songs; Little Boy Blue, for instance, cannot watch over his sheep on Shabbat–he is in shul, of course. The young boys on the cover all sport kippot and Mother Goose is pictured in a matronly shawl, with a prominent Star of David around her neck.”

Through the pioneering work of Gladys Gewirtz and her sister, Roz Grossman,  Jewish life and customs became songs that even pre-schoolers could understand.  It is only now, after so many years, that we can truly appreciate the powerful influence that these simple tunes had in fostering Jewish identity and education for  generations of Jewish children.

Gladys spent a number of years at Kol Yisrael (The Voice of Israel) as a music producer.  She was married to the District Attorney of Jerusalem, Ezra Hedaya.

Together with her brother, Shimon (cantor). and his wife, Ilana (flutist and soloist), Gladys established and directed the first music service at the Hebrew Music College in Jerusalem. She also wrote various cantatas and oratorios on biblical themes. Gladys and her brother Shimon again combined their talents to write a musical  based on The Book of Ruth. entitled Your People are Mine.

Gladys was 84 when she passed away on April 14, 2012. Shimon and Roz are currently living in Israel.  All of us at the Judaica Sound Archives are saddened by her passing and offer sincere condolences to her family. Her memory is a blessing to all who knew her. Her music legacy will not be forgotten.

Click here to listen to all eight (8) of her albums from the JSA Collection.

Celebrate klezmer!

By , February 27, 2012 9:41 am

4th Annual KULTUR FESTIVAL: A Celebration of Jewish Music and Arts

March 3—11, 2012

FAU Libraries, Boca Raton, FL

Can’t make it to South Florida?

You can join in the celebration of klezmer right here at the Judaica Sound Archives!

The word “klezmer” derives from two Hebrew words meaning instruments of music. The roots of klezmer can be traced back to 15th century Eastern Europe. Klezmer music incorporates Chassidic melodies, folk tunes, and Jewish celebration dances. However, most ethno-musicologists would tell you that what we refer to as “klezmer” in 21st century America bears very little resemblance to the musical compositions of 100 or 200 years ago. Today’s “klezmer” is like a  kaleidoscopic musical mirror that captures sound bits from the Jewish experience and reflects them back in new and sometimes wildly improbable ways.

Steeped in traditional Jewish sounds and melodies, klezmer is no longer chained to the shtetl. Today’s klezmer can be heard on the internet in Jewish homes around the world. Today’s klezmer can absorb interesting new flavors as the Jewish world of music expands.

Today’s klezmer music wakes up our Jewish cultural memory and provokes us to dance, to celebrate, to be Jewish!

Early klezmorim played the violin and other stringed instruments. Around 1855 the clarinet began to gain prominence. In the USA, clarinetists Dave Tarras and Naftule Brandwein spear-headed a klezmer revolution during the 1920’s. Today klezmer music continues to evolve.  It now includes everything from traditional renditions to mind-blowing fusions.

TheJudaica Sound Archives at Florida Atlantic University Libraries invites you to enjoy klezmer music from the past and the present.

Adrianne Greenbaum – FleytMuzik Klezmer music for flute

Benny Bell – To the Bride

Effy Netzer and his band – Folk Dance in Israel Today

Harry Kandel- Kandel’s Orchestra (1917-1918) Vol. 1

Klezmer Company Orchestra – Beyond the Tribes

The Original Klezmer jazz Band

Paul Green – Klezmer East

Rudy Tepel and his Orchestra- Lubavitch Wedding

Yiddishe Cup – Klezmer Guy

JSA Featured Performer – Judy Caplan Ginsburgh

By , February 7, 2012 2:43 pm

The Judaica Sound Archives is proud to feature the beautiful voice of Judy Caplan Ginsburgh.  Although much of her work is geared towards children’s music and holiday songs,  her  clean, clear, lyrical voice performs beautifully when singing cantorial songsromantic ballads, and folk songs.  She is a nationally recognized and multi-award winning performer.  She travels extensively to perform at a variety of different of events, appearing in concerts, educational workshops and sing-alongs .

Judy obviously has a passion and a talent for childhood education. She has innovated a number of educational performances and events which engage school-age children with music and song. One of my favorites from her collection is the  iParenting 2007 Award winner, You’re Amazing.

Judy has had great success as a recording artist since 1981. Her award-winning, best-selling recordings for Jewish families feature familiar songs which have been sung for years in Jewish schools and homes. Her interactive and educational recordings of music for general audiences have received the highest praises from teachers and parents around the globe.

The Judaica Sound Archives has 11 of her albums in our collection. I know that once you start listening to them you will be emailing me to ask where you can buy the CDs.  So before you have to ask.  I will tell you.

The Judaica Sound Archives does not sell CDs. If you are interested in purchasing this music please visit Judy Caplan Ginsburgh’s website: www.judymusic.com .

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