Orient Express Moving Shnorers Klezmer Nova

France's first klezmer revival group, Orient Express Moving Shnorers, have very little new to contribute to the scene, with the exception of a truly misguided choice of name. Like the Klezmatics of the early '90s, the Shnorers balance clarinet, violin and trumpet as the lead musical voice, giving the requisite nods to Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras. At times more of a frustrated instrumental jazz record than klezmer, the 18 tracks that comprise Klezmer Nova are competent performances, but perfunctory ones, lacking any evidence of ardour or even enthusiasm for the music. There is also an over-reliance on piano, which is fine during the jazz moments but sounds cluttered on the more traditional bulgars and freylekhs. The band certainly shows more style during slower pieces such as "Oyfn Pripetshik" (an instrumental based on a Yiddish poem from the 1800s) and an inspired violin and bugle arrangement of "Haneros Halelou." But it's difficult to listen to the Shnorers' take on Josef Solinsky's "Romanian Fantasy" without thinking of the superior Klezmatics' version, which is shorter and played with infinitely more passion. The booklet of liner notes, although it looks very pretty, is sorely lacking detail and is also impenetrable in either language. You're left with the impression of a group of musicians locked in a studio with a musicologist and arranger until they came up with a klezmer record, when they really would have much rather been outside playing jazz. (Universal)