Accompanying this CD of Jewish inspired music sung and played by Jews and non Jews alike, is a fat booklet detailing the rise and demise of the Jewish gangster and illustrated with the paintings of Israeli artist Oz Almog whose controversial exhibition: 'Kosha Nostra, Jewish Gangsters 1890-1980' was the genesis for this collection.
Do you have to be Jewish to enjoy? Nope, but a high tolerance for schmaltz is a perquisite for some of the material: 'My Yiddishe Momma' (Tom Jones) and 'O Mein Pappa' (Connie Francis) will have you weeping in your chicken soup or reaching for the waste paper basket. That said there's plenty of swing, Klezmer, and for heavens sake Chubby 'twist Checker. Solomon Schwartz turns Hava Nagila into a lounge groove. The Bagelmann Sisters (later The Barry Sisters) demonstrate how klezmer was swallowed up by swing. Track 14 is an excerpt from a New York Jewish radio station and one of my favorite moments. In short it's a lot of fun, though whether Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky or Louis Buchalter went to work whistling 'The Bridegroom Special' is debatable.
Although some of the recordings are archival, the sound is pretty decent.
01. Connie Francis: Anniversary Song
02. Tom Jones: My Yiddishe Mamme
03. The Andrews Sisters: Bei Mir Bistu Sheyn
04. Chubby Checker: Misirlou
05. Solomon Schwartz et son Orchestra: Hava Nagila
06. The Bagelmann Sisters with Abe Ellstein Orchester: A Vaibele, a Tsnie
07. Leonid Utjossow: Mu Mu
08. Al Jolson & Andrews Sisters: The Old Piano Roll Blues
09. Connie Francis: Shein vi de Levone
10. Barry Sisters: Zug Es Meir Noch Amool
11. Molly Picon: Es Fehlt Ihr Die Rozinke
12. Aaron Lebedeff & Alexander Olshanetzky's Orchestra: What Can You Mach?-S'is America
13. Sophie Tucker: My Yiddishe Mamme
14. Yiddish Swing Orchestra: The Bridegroom Special
15. The Barry Sisters: Eishes - Chiyell
16. The Gilt Edged Four: Yiddisher Charleston
17. Cleo Brown: When Hollywood Goes Black And Tan
18. Sophie Tucker: Some of These Days
19. Wilmoth Houdini: Black But Sweet
20. Connie Francis: O mein Papa
21. Roza Eskenazy: Hariklaki