Monday, December 1, 2008

PBS does Chanukah (Hanukkah?) right

There's music for every taste and more on PBS's new Chanukah concert special, "Lights", now airing nationwide (check your local listings). Produced by (and starring) Craig Taubman, the live concert features Alberto Mizrahi, The Klezmatics, and Joshua Nelson (the Prince of Kosher Gospel), with guest appearances by (among others) jazz saxophonist Dave Koz, actress Mare Winningham, and two young singer-songwriters ready to breakout, Josh Nelson and Michelle Citrin. (Did I mention dancers, a children's choir, and Rabbi David Wolpe?)

Klezmatics frontman Lorin Sklamberg and the band have an ability to dominate any stage they set foot on. They get the joint jumping with a folk-flavored Chanukah song set to lyrics by Woody Guthrie.  Frank London spins wave after wave of wild trumpet riffs, and I've never heard Lorin's vocals sound so good. 

Cantor Mizrahi gets a chance to do a little of everything, from blessings to Sephardic & Ladino songs, along with Hebraic scat singing, and even a little Greek dancing. Joshua Nelson and his singers have fun with a Gospel flavored "Dreidle Song", and Craig Taubman holds it all together with new takes on old songs and touching ballads like "Holy Ground."

Chanukah's coming soon. Check your TV listings. See the show, make a pledge, give what you can. It's Public Television - it's a good cause.

Pictured below: Joshua Nelson and Kosher Gospel; 
Michelle Citrin: Josh Nelson and kids