Andy Statman By Yaacov Gabriel (Tikkun Magazine)

   Another kind of brilliance comes through Andy Statman. He is a master instrumentalist on clarinet and mandolin, and the music he creates is alive, elegant and improvized. His latest release, Between Heaven and Earth: Music of the Jewish Mystics (Shanachie Entertainment #64079), is an oven departure from earlier projects, which were more easily definable, as bluegrass or klezmer.
This record, with his own Quartet and help from the imcomparable Bela Fleck on banjo and David Grisman on mandolin, is chassidic jazz.
He says, in his press release, that he felt an affinity with the later music of John Coltrane, and the implicit spirituality John found in the Black American heritage. In presenting his own roots, Andy takes a similar route. He recorded Dveykus (attachment to the Holy One) and Tisch (table sitting with the Rebbe) melodies from Reb Nachman of Breslov (1772-1810), and other kabbalistic masters.
This grand, deep music is very personal and introspective, and probably was written to induce spiritual experiences in disciples long ago. What's extraordinary is how Andy arranges the songs and chooses a drummer, bassist and pianist with jazz sensibilities to make the songs after Midnight-ish contemporary as well.
This kind of break-the-expectation fusion is a key element in Jewish renewal music, and separates this project from the klezmer recordings Andy did before. Philosophically, I think it's very true to the original intention of the Chassidic Masters he's quoting and updating. They themselves were models for being rebels and traditionalists simultaneously. They surely would approve of Andy's artfulness and sincerity. He imagines their mind spaces, makes his clarinet a holy voice, and wails.
If you like music with heart and mystery, that breaks cliches and nakedly yearns for Divine Connection, this is a disc for you. For that matter, if mediocrity ain't your cup of tea, check out the brilliance of both these artists.

COPYRIGHT 1997 Tikkun Magazine COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group

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