Jewish Discs 80331

Soulfarm's core duo, Noah Solomon and C Lanzbom, has enjoyed a series of modest creative successes in recent years.

solomon disk 88224 (photo credit: )
solomon disk 88224
(photo credit: )
NOAH SOLOMON AND C LANZBOM The Chabad Sessions (Desert Rock Records) Soulfarm's core duo, Noah Solomon and C Lanzbom, has enjoyed a series of modest creative successes in recent years by moving away from the full, often heavily produced band sound and focusing on down-home, acoustic-heavy jams. Lanzbom is a mean electric guitarist, but together with Solomon's chanting, mandolin, harmonica and hand percussion, his relaxed acoustic work evokes some kind of backwater crossroads where ambitious lone riders can sell their souls to Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and be made formidable niggun folk-jammers. This duo hasn't looked back since releasing the unplugged-style Live at Club Tzora in 2003 and studio side project Jerusalem Ridge in 2004. Now they are continuing where they left off with the new Chabad Sessions, a collection of traditional Lubavitch niggunim with fresh, meandering, largely acoustic arrangements. On "V'Chol Karnei," dueling solos echo with Allman flavors on top of an edgy low strum, while "Ato Hakeil" is driven by the interaction between whimsical percussion and drunken slide guitar noodling. The Eastern European folk music of "Durin Marku" builds up until Solomon's signature scat wailing ushers in a meandering "Tzama Nafshi" jam. "Rav's Niggun," meanwhile, showcases a haunting melody thanks to its nearly a cappella arrangement, paving the way from the drama of "Yemin Hashem," where Lanzbom can hold back no longer, unleashing some blistery, Stevie Ray Vaughn-like electric solos. YOSEF KARDUNER Breslever Melave Malka (Sameach Music) While Chabad hassidut is known for its brand of majestic, regal melodies, we are encouraged not to forget the dream-like mystery of Breslov melodies via Breslever Melave Malka. Yosef Karduner is best known for his albums of laid-back original songs exploring Breslov Hassidic teachings, which have been making waves for about a decade now. The latest Karduner disc is a departure in that it is comprised of traditional Breslov niggunim - more specifically, Breslov songs associated with the mystical Melaveh Malka ritual, whereby the Jew extends the high state of glee which he attained on Shabbat with a festive meal. Unfortunately, the disc closes with a "Breslov Medley," a parade of mostly well-known sing-alongs (including that "Uman Uman Rosh Hashanah" anthem) marked by canned keyboards, uppy and simplistic beats and very few vocal parts. But as with all Karduner albums, the key element at play here is the musician's signature breezy adult rock elegance, most notable on the heady melody of "Eliyahu Hanavi" and the sparse phrasing of "Agil V'esmah" and "Ish Hassid." Although more guest vocalists than usual fill out the proceedings, Karduner wrote all of the arrangements and performed many of the instruments for the album himself. With the exception of the "Breslov Medley" and the opening "B'motza'ei" (which could never top the iconic Diaspora Yeshiva Band version), it's all in characteristically good Karduner taste. Ben Jacobson can be reached at [email protected]