David Grisman & Andy Statman New Shabbos Waltz

The subtitle of this affecting effort is "A Collection of Timeless Jewish Melodies.” Now, while that may seem a bit too infomercial for some people, it certainly is an apt description. With Grisman on the mandolin and Statman on the clarinet, these instrumental interpretations of Chassidic songs are incredible in their simplified circumstances. While other instruments do help flesh out some songs, the true beauty lies in the natural chemistry between the two. "Yerushalayim Irkhah” is the perfect example of this as drums and other people flutter about the background, but they never take away from Statman’s impassioned clarinet. Indeed, there is a real love for the songs that are played here, and that dedication transcends any hesitation about delving into a genre of religious odes, even if you don’t necessarily practice that religion. Addressing that concern, the liner notes, which explain the significance and history of the songs, are excellent and give much needed dimension. This is best exemplified in the closer "Ani Ma’amin,” where the combined mandolins make it heart-rending enough, before learning it was composed by a Rabbi on the train to a death camp. Beautiful and touching, the subtitle’s most accurate word would most certainly be "timeless.” (Fryk Beat)