Music from Other Lands
The Saint Vitus Dance Band specializes in exotic and passionate traditional music from Eastern Europe, Greece, British Isles, French Canada, and klezmer tunes. Featuring DeeAnn Gillispie on violin, Albee Tellone on guitar, Gresham McMillon on bass and Kathy Covert Jensen on percussion. Their new CD is a musical 'Orient Express' through the folk music of many places and eras. LINER NOTES: 1. Nakhes fun Kinder -- ('Joy from Children': Yiddish) A khosidl ('small': Hebrew) solo or communal stately khasidic dance performed either in a circle or a line, the melody based on a religious folk tune. From the repertoire of Naftule Brandwein, and also recorded early in the 20th century by Belf's Rumanian Orchestra. Taught to me by master klezmer violinist Steven Greenman of Cleveland, Ohio. 2. Tri se Macke/Hochzeitstanz -- A Serbo-Croatian lullaby, followed by a fast Hungarian wedding dance. 3. Khosin Khale Mazeltov -- ('mazeltov': congratulations, or good luck: Hebrew) traditional dance often performed several times during the wedding ceremony with different groupings of wedding guests or the family members. (We play this in a less traditional, more 'schmaltzy' style). 4. Tish Nigun/Szatmari -- ('Table Song': Yiddish) A khassidic wordless melody sung with great spirituality during Sabbath, accompanying meals, or at weddings. Often accompanied with a solo instrument, usually a violin; followed by a spirited melsoy from the Szatmari region of Transylvania. 5. Dobrabotsh/Der Heyser Bulgar -- Widely known in the Ukraine as 'Platsh Yisroel' or 'Cry Israel', (and also 'gute nakht' good night, 'zay gezunt' be well, or 'gezegen' farewell: Yiddish). It was commonly played at the end of the wedding when guests were departing for home, often just before sunrise; with the 'Hot Bulgar'. The bulgar is a circle or line dance in 8/8 time, similar to some Greek and Israeli dances, related to the klezmer 'freylekh', popular in Bessarabia (Romania) and south Ukraine, and one of the most common dances in American klezmer repertoire. The name probably refers to the Bulgarian minority in Bessarabia. 6. Mouth of the Tobique/Lady McGowan's Fling -- A French-Canadian dance tune from the recordings of the late Scottish fiddler Johnny Cunningham, followed by an Irish dance tune taught to me by fiddler Shanda McDonald of Shawnee, Oklahoma. 7. Agrapha/Frailach Nigun Bulgar -- Greek 'tsamiko' dance, a circle dance usually performed by men in military uniform to celebrate national events. 'Agrapha' is about a man's tragic return home from war with the Turks; the klezmer 'Happy Tune' bulgar follows. 8. In Memoriam Soproni Tendl Pal/Verbunkos/Friss -- Hungarian medley: A melody in memory of Tendl Pal, a famous cimbalom player from western Hungary, followed by a verbunkos, and 18th century recruiting dance of the Hungarian army, and then a friss (literally 'fresh'), a fast-paced dance tune. 9. Gypsy Waltz/Reel Beatrice -- No one seems to know the origins of this haunting waltz, but it is a favorite; followed by an eastern sounding French-Canadian reel. 10. Hector the Hero -- Also from the repertoire of Johnny Cunningham, this classic lament was composed by Scottish composer and fiddler James Scott Skinner in 1903. It was written as a tribute to Major-General Lord Hector MacDonald, a distinguished Scottish general around the turn of the century. MacDonald, a friend of Skinner's, had not long before committed suicide due to illness and rumors of his being homosexual, despite his being married. The lyrics sound a bit maudlin to our modern ears, so we play it as an instrumental. 11. Moldavian Dance Tune -- A spirited tune from Moldavia, a land in southeastern Europe, bordered by Transylvania, Romania, and the Ukraine. Notes by DeeAnn Gillispie.