The Idelsohn Society, consisting of Roger Bennett and my brilliant friend Josh Kun, undertook a sonic sojourn over this past decade to excavate the dusty grooves of American Jewish life. The edifying result is the new tome And You Shall Know Us By the Trail of Our Vinyl—launched tonight, featuring performances from a host of people including Gershon Kingsley, Irving Fields, El Avram, Sol Zim, and Jackie Hoffman. USC Annenberg’s Kun has long been among our most astute observers of cultural intersections and border music, making this project essential. Lena Horne’s Yiddish crooning is no surprise considering her second marriage, but Chubby Checker remixing “The Twist” with “Hava Nagilah” is a timely reminder that the Cool Jews rhythm science didn’t begin with Matisyahu’s orthodox skanking. Check it out before Kanye’s inevitable fusion of the menorah and kinara on some ’09 Hanukkah concept disc.
Thu., Dec. 11, 9:30 p.m., 2008