‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is the best of this year’s annual crop of holiday records. The record, which was released by the Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, is subtitled The Musical Battle Between Christmas and the Festival of Lights. The catch is that this record is anything but a musical battle. Rather, this record does exactly what music is said to do. It’s a unifier. It joins two distinctly different cultures through the medium of music. On a side note, The Idelsohn Society for those who perhaps may not know was named for its namesake, musicologist Abraham Zevi Idelsohn. Audiences can learn more about him and the Idelsohn Society’s website, http://idelsohnsociety.com/about-us/.
‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah is just the latest in a series of releases from the Idelsohn Society For Musical Preservation. The compilation features thirty four tracks from across both the Jewish and Christian faiths. Those songs celebrate, as the subtitle notes, both Christmas and the just ended annual celebration of Hanukkah. What makes this double disc compilation even more interesting is that both the songs of the Jewish and Christian faiths are sung by both those in the Jewish community and those with Jewish roots. Among some of the more notable of those artists are the likes of: Mel Torme, Benny Goodman, Lou Reed, The Ramones, Bob Dylan, and Herb Alpert just to name some. Adding even more interest to this already worthwhile listen, the music presented by the variety of artists makes the record even more multi-cultural. Some songs are standards, while others are more original, crossing the cultural borders of the music industry.
All thirty-four tracks in this compilation present enjoyment thanks to their cultural variety. One of the most enjoyable and interesting of the songs in this compilation comes not from the Christmas side, but from the Hanukkah side. Gladys Gertwiz’s presentation of ‘A Chanukah Quiz’ is a wonderful starting point for young members of the Jewish community. Gerwitz sings to her audiences of a “Hanukkah riddle” of sorts. In reality, this song is a history lesson both of Hanukkah and of Jewish heritage. She tells parts of the history, and leaves parts blank for listeners to answer (in song form) back. It’s fun and creative. On a completely different tangent, ‘Twas The Night Before Hanukkah also offers a Latin style holiday song in the form of ‘El Die de la Navidad.’ It’s one more example of just how multicultural this record is. The upbeat sound alone makes this another enjoyable song. Add to the danceable sound the lyrical holiday celebration and listeners get another enjoyable addition to this release. It’s just one more of so many enjoyable songs included in a record that is simply put the best holiday record of the year. The album is available in stores and online now. It can be ordered online direct at the Idelsohn Society store at http://idelsohnsociety.com/store/albums/.
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