Sometimes - not every day, not every week, even not every month, but, let me say once a year - sometimes one receives a gem. This happened to me having received violinist Sandra Layman's "Little Blackbird" CD. When I found Sandra's first email in my mailbox, her name sounded somehow familiar to me, but I didn't know, where to assign her to. When the CD came, I amazed read names as Joel Rubin, David Adlhoch, Sue Thompson, Rabbi Jim Mirel, being performers on this CD. Even more amazed I read the dates of recording: All tracks have been in recorded between 1982 and 1985. And suddenly I knew: Sandra Layman, of course, in those days in 1980 co-founder of the legendary Mazel Tov Klezmer Band, the very first "Klezmer revival band" in the Pacific Northwest area of the United States.
Well, Sandra searched her archive for recordings from those years, and what she found was a collage of rare Jiddish, Romanian, Greek, Turkish, and Hungarian tunes, being simply unique in this combination. It's a walk through almost any varieties of East European music. Nearly all these pieces are live recordings, and they perfectly show us the immense joy of playing not only of this excellent violinist, but of all the musicians performing on this CD.
Another source of delight is the booklet. For any of the 34 tracks Sandra wrote a short history: where she learnt it, and from whom she had learnt it, folkloristic and musical backgrounds as well as the names of the co-performers. Also, there are CVs of MTKB and any of the musicians performing on this CD.
With the "Little Blackbird" CD we have a wonderful and unique piece of (not only) klezmer history. It shouldn't be missed in any serious klezmer collection.
Little Blackbird - Sandra Layman
D. Müller, AUG-2002