“Basically,” Jim Guttmann explains, “I wanted to include everything I love about what I’ve done over the past 30 years”. Bessarabian Breakdown is a collection of enthusiasms. It’s filled with ideas that sound as if they’ve been produced and imagined separately: klezmer-salsa in “Descarga Gitano”, Middle Eastern klezmer-jazz squeak in “Cuando El Rey Nimrod” with oud accompaniment, a cool bass solo in “Firn Di Mekhutonim Aheym” and a pile-on of multiple instruments at the end of “Beregovski 90- Skocne”. The tracks are individually durable—avid, disciplined, inventive—but together they lack the coherence that would make this a great album, a single and singular unified thing. The songs have klezmer and jazz in common, yet everything else about them is so divergent that they fail to flow well from one to another. Bessarabian Breakdown is, essentially, a stockpile of excellent singles.
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