Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Idelsohn Society to release Hanukkah/Christmas album

The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation ( announced today, the release of a‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah: The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights, a 2xCD and digital release exploring the evolving musical role of both Hanukkah and Christmas music in the 20th Century. The set arrives in time for both Hanukkah and Christmas on November 13.
Furthering its mission to educate, edify and promote Jewish musical history, The Idelsohn Society has compiled a stunning collection of both Hanukkah songs as well as Christmas music sung (and in many cases written) by Jews. Each disc in the 2 CD set features 17 tracks, compiled from a wide array of performers, musical styles and genres, from the 1930s to present. Disc One (The Songs of Hanukkah) highlights both well-known and somewhat lost Hanukkah classics from the past. Disc two (Merry Christmas) features Christmas songs – sung by and in some cases written by Jewish performers – both secular and holy. A full track listing runs below.
The collection tells a uniquely American story: once Christmas was declared a national holiday in 1870, the competitive campaign to beef up Hanukkah began.  The obscure, minor Jewish holiday rapidly elevated: not only will we celebrate Christmas, we will create a rival holiday of our own to celebrate as well! You have one day of presents, we will have eight nights.  But Jews could not resist the allure of Christmas, and for reasons of money-making, sentimentality, or a simple love for the music, every major Jewish performer cut a Christmas track.  The result was a truly American phenomenon: a category of Christmas music, as sung by Jews, became a vital part of the holiday fabric.   
‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is a musical songbook highlighting both rare and iconic holiday music across both faiths. To further illustrate the musical journey, a deluxe 36-page booklet of Hanukkah photos, holiday themed artwork, rare holiday album art from years past and a list of 16 ways to spell Hanukkah  - correctly, compliments the set. Additionally, the package also includes extensive liner notes on both holidays’ history in American culture along with essays by noted critic Greil Marcus and George Washington University historian Jenna Weissman Joselit. Each of the 34 songs included receives a track-by-track description.
With seven releases to date, the Idelsohn Society has shed light on music rarely conceptualized to date. Titles include the Billboard charting Black Sabbath: The Secret Music History of Black-Jewish Relations (2010) focusing on the interplay between Jewish culture and black music on, Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set: The Tikva Records Story 1950-1973 (2011) and Jewface (2006), a collection of Jewish minstrel songs from the turn of the last century among others.
Disc 1 - Happy Hanukkah
1. “Hanukah” (Gerald Marks), 2. “Hanukkah Dance” (Woody Guthrie), 3. “Yevonim” (Cantor Yossele Rosenblatt), 4. “Rock of Ages” (Cantor David Putterman, 5. “Klezzified” (Klezmer Conservatory Band), 6. “A Chanukah Quiz” (Gladys Gewirtz) 7. “Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel” (Ella Jenkins) 8. “Svivon Sov Sov Sov” (Temple B’Nai Abraham of Essex County Children’s Choir) 9. “‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah” (Stanley Adams and Sid Wayne) 10. “Ocho Kandelikas” (Flory Jagoda) 11. “Grandma’s Dreidel” (Mickey Katz) 12. “The Latke Song” (Debbie Friedman) 13. “Hanukah Tree” (The Klezmatics) 14. “Maccabee March” (Shirley Cohen) 15. “Mo’Oz Tsur” (Sol Zim) 16. “Dreidel” (Don McLean) 17. “Dreidel” (Jeremiah Lockwood, Ethan Miller and Luther Dickinson)
Disc 2 – Merry Christmas
1. “Holiday I.D.” (Lou Reed) 2. “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight Tonight)” (The Ramones) 3. “The Christmas Song” (Mel Torme) 4. “Little Drummer Boy” (Bob Dylan) 5. “Sweetest Dreams Be Thine” (Theodore Bikel) 6. “O Little Town of Bethlehem” (Richard Tucker) 7. “The Problem” (Ray and Barry E. Blitzer 8. “The Twelve Days of Christmas” (Dinah Shore) 9. “Santa Claus is Coming To Town” 10. “El Dia de la Navidad” (Larry Harlow) 11. “O Come All Ye Faithful” (Danny Kaye) 12. “The Only Thing I Want For Christmas” (Eddie Cantor) 13. “It’s Christmas All Over The World” (Sammy Davis Jr.) 14. I Got a Cold for Christmas (The Ames Brothers) 15. “Christmas Eve in My Hometown” (Eddie Fischer) 16. “Jingle Bells” (Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass) 17. “White Christmas” (Mitch Miller)

The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation is a critically acclaimed all-volunteer non-profit organization. They are a small but dedicated team from the music industry and academia who passionately believe Jewish history is best told by the music we have loved and lost. In order to incite a new conversation about the present, we must begin by listening anew to the past. 
They do this in a number of ways:
•      Re-releasing lost classics like Mazeltov, Mis Amigos, and compilations like Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations and Songs for the Jewish-American Jet Set: The Tikva Records Story 1950-1973

•      Opening Tikva Records, the first 1950s Jewish Pop-Up Record Store in San Francisco for December 2011, which had over 25,000 visitors and featured 30 days of sold-out musical performances, film, and comedy
•      Filming the story of every veteran Jewish musician they can find across the country to build a digitally-based archive of the music and the artists who created it in order to preserve their legacy for future generations
•      Curating innovative museum exhibits that showcase the stories behind the music, like “Jews on Vinyl,” which is currently travelling the nation, and “Black Sabbath,” at the Contemporary Jewish Museum
•      Creating concert showcases like “Mazeltov Mis Amigos” at Lincoln Center
All of this work is driven by the passion and energies of volunteer supporters and donors across the country who share the belief that music creates conversations otherwise impossible in daily life.  Their work has lifted the past into the present, from the pages of the New York Times, to the NPR airwaves, to the stage of Lincoln Center. You can join the Idelsohn Society in their mission by visiting them at and @idelsohnsociety

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