Although this is the Bester quartet’s first release, the musicians are known for their work as the Cracow Klezmer band and under this name they already released six albums on the Tzadik label, one of my all-time favorite record labels.
Since my taste largely developed and was greatly influenced by European late romantic and 20th century music, I involuntarily kept at a certain distance from the jazz music.
The first time I listened to this CD, I was quite pleasantly surprised. Listening to the short samples (only on the MP3 page) is really not enough to get a sense of the variety and complexity of the music here. For many years, I've been very impressed with the Tzadik recording label, which produces everything from the most "outside" modern composers and performers to what they call "Radical Jewish Culture." In fact, this music is some of the most accessible music I've heard from Tzadik in some time.
The Bester Quartet is the new incarnation of Jarosław Bester's Cracow Klezmer Band, a quartet of violin, bayan (Russian accordion), percussion, and double bass, who perform a wholly unique kind of improvised Jewish folk music. Under the latter name they have released six albums on John Zorn's Tzadik label: three records of original material, two of interpretations of Zorn's material, and one live album. These albums are among my favorites of the new millennium. The Bester Quartet is essentially the same group, but with a new double-bassist: Mikolaj Pospieszalski. This new album, again on Zorn's label as part of the "Radical Jewish Culture" series, offers more of the group’s exciting explorations of Jewish music via highly energetic, but also mournful, folk-like song forms.