Ideally, we should all greet every CD release with a completely open mind and no preconceived notions. But that’s not what generally happens, is it? More often than not, I find it takes me time to get into some of the really hyped CDs because my expectations are so high and to be perfectly honest, it can be very disappointing. The flip side is that sometimes I hear an album that I wasn’t expecting to enjoy and it really blows me away.
Which is exactly what happened with Mendy Werdyger’s Tomid B’chol Yom.
There is no particular reason why I didn’t expect to like this album. It is just that there are dozens of new albums coming out every year and quite frankly, many of them just aren’t that good. Having not heard any buzz about this one from any of my music buddies, I just assumed this was going to be another so-so album. In this case, I am so happy to be wrong!
Let me start by saying that Mendy Werdyger is a pleasure to listen to. It is not just that he has a really, really good voice. He knows how to use it as well. Combine top notch vocals with excellent songs, some really good arrangements and you have all the ingredients necessary to produce a solid album. Werdyger manages the almost impossible, taking songs that have a yiddishe ta’am and making them sound fresh and new while still staying true to their roots. This is clearly an album produced in 2010, very much in tune with the more sophisticated palate of today’s Jewish music listeners, but it stays batampte and appropriate through and through.
One of the things that impressed me most about Tomid B’Chol Yom (from here on in to be abbreviated TBY to save me time and typing) is that very often in Jewish music the old school style songs all sound like they were recorded a minimum of ten years ago. The arrangements, the music, it just never sounds cutting edge. But not on this album. Werdyger manages to take songs that my father, an old time Poylisher, would love but he manages to make them sound fresh, new and very today. TBY manages to take the old school hartz that I was raised with and blend it seamlessly with the more sophisticated music that is now part and parcel of Jewish music today.
Another sure sign that I really enjoyed this album is that my Yiddish is beyond pathetic and I hate listening to songs when I don’t know what they mean. In this case, I enjoyed the songs so much that it didn’t matter that I have no clue what some of them are talking about.
There is lots of talent on this album, aside from Mendy Werdyger himself. Compositions by: Motti Ilowitz, Pinky Weber, Mendy Werdyger, Yossi Green, R’ BenZion Shenker and Shalom Ezri, among others. Arrangements by Shua Fried, Eli Lishinsky and Shloimy Zeiger. Terrific choir work by Avrumi Berko, Yossi Green and Shua Fried. And a truly gorgeous CD cover and booklet by Sruly Meyer.
Without a doubt, my favorite song on TBY is track number six, Di Voch, a leibidic, addictive song that I could listen to over and over again. The words are a great fit to the music and I love the repeated in tzi’s. Don’t miss the great vocals at 4:08! U’dvorov, the opening track, composed by Motti Ilowitz is another fun upbeat tune that is a great combo of a song that could have been sung forty years ago, yet very today thanks to Shua Fried’s excellent arrangements. My favorite slow songs? The title track Tomid B’chol Yom, which I knew had to be a Pinky Weber composition without even checking the booklet. Werdyger really nails this hartzig song with moving words from Tana Dvei Eliyahu. Shalom Ezri’s beautiful Boee Veshalom is another winner, again, sung so beautifully by Werdyger. (Is it my imagination or have there been a bunch of songs with these lyrics recently?) Yossi Green’s Shifchi is also quite lovely and another example of words being matched so perfectly to the music.
Tomid B’chol Yom combines the best of both worlds, the old and the new in one terrific package. I find myself enjoying it more and more every time I listen to it.