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JM Derech’s Review of Avodas Tzedaka

JM Derech’s Review of Avodas Tzedaka

General, Reviews — By on June 16, 2009 7:16 am

Avodas Tzedaka is a 12-track album featuring the vocals of Shloime Kaufman, as well as guest vocals by: Baruch Levine, Michoel Pruzansky, Dovid Gabay, Abie Rotenberg, A.K.A. Pella & Shalom Jacobs. With this star-studded cast, the potential for greatness is limitless. And one more really cool note: The music on this album was done by Tony Coluccio, someone who has NEVER done Jewish music before.

Shloime Kaufman (see pic above) debuted on the Emes albums. However, being this is his solo artist debut, he is reborn as a new singer. So many new singers have put out debut albums recently that it’s become hard to pinpoint one really solid singer from the bunch. However, with Kaufman it’s different. There’s no question about it, Kaufman has an amazing voice and his potential is through the roof. He can sing high without sounding kvetchy and low without sounding gruff. Not only that, but he displays his vocal capabilities with the variety of different styled songs throughout the album.

Zman Chazara (Review Time)

Avodas TzedakaComposed by Yitzy Waldner

Kaufman nails the perfect introduction here. The music is very similar to that of “Al Tira” on Oorah’s 2009 “The Shmorg” album. That intro was amazing as well. It’s also a similar style. Short song; Fast; and lots of electric guitar. Kaufman’s voice in this song is crisp and incredibly controlled. Shloime Kaufman, where have you been!? I’ve been dreaming of vocals like yours (well not really… but he’s really good!). A typical, yet perfect addition to the song the second time around (1:22) with a single harmony. And the third time around (2:33) with a choir harmony. Perfect! This song clearly had a lot of effort put into its arrangements. Yasher Koach to those who worked so hard on it!
Shtick – (1:221:45) The single self-harmony is great and make sure to catch the “Hey!” part.

YigdalComposed, Arranged and Performed by Baruch Levine

Baruch Levine. Let me be the first to say “Woohoo!!!!!! Baruch Levine!!!!” Okay, anyway, Baruch Levine’s vocals are a welcome addition to any song, especially this one, composed by him (of course!). This song, which I will bravely compare to Vizakeini, is amazing. This song will be played as chassunah dinner music; I guarantee it! Just listen for yourself. The song has Levine’s trademark eidel style written all over it. Levine sings the first part of the song, and the second part is taken over by Kaufman. It’s very hard to sing a Baruch Levine song as well as him, but Kaufman surprisingly does a fantastic job with this sure to be classic. Kaufman even sings like Levine. Listen to how he says the word “Sof” (3:20) he adds the “w” sound, making it “Soowof”. Baruch Levine adds some gorgeous background harmonies for Kaufman (3:283:55). Now for the real test; can Kaufman hit the keys like Levine did on the chorus? Not as good, but still terrific. Baruch Levine goes all out (4:53) and Kaufman joins in, completing the perfection of this song.
Shtick – (5:215:26) Baruch Levine’s high double harmony

Kol YisroelComposed by Yitzy Waldner – Performed by Michoel Pruzansky

This folks, is a typical Michoel Pruzansky song. Pumped beyond belief, with tons of electric vocals. Pruzansky takes the first part of this song, singing in his trademark “pumped” style. The electric at (1:06) is a bit overdone for my taste. Kaufman joins in during the chorus and you’d think he wouldn’t be able to perform such an eidel song as Yigdal and then perform this club beat Kol Yisroel. But he does, and he does it well. One thing is for sure; the pair, Pruz and Kaufman, makes for an amazing team. Listen for some craziness (2:48) and a little fake-out (3:07). Zeh Lazeh, Zeh Lazeh, Zeh Lazeh Lazeh… so addictive.
Shtick – (3:263:42) Pruz and Kaufman go all out. Make sure to listen for Kaufman’s “Gerstner” harmony (3:343:38).

Min HamaitzarComposed by Yitzy Waldner – Performed by Dovid Gabay

This song is a bit unorthodox. It’s a slow song with a very interesting chorus. The way the chorus is “cried out” is very interesting, and new to me. It’s not my favorite style, but it’s not terrible. The middle section of the song starting with “zeh hayom” is my favorite part. Kaufman sings the song the first time around and his vocals are terrific once again. The second time around the song, Gabay enters. Although Kaufman does a good job with this song, Gabay saves it and really brings out every note for all there worth. The third time around Gabay and Kaufman switch off and harmonize with each other, which is by far the best part of the song.
Shtick – (4:53End) As mentioned above, the end is by far the best part of this song.

IvduComposed by Shloime Kaufman – Guest appearance by Shalom Jacobs

I want to start off by saying, that this album has a huge range of different types of music. This song sounds like a R’Shmuel Brazil (Regesh) composition. We’ve gone from rock to eidel to electric to slow rock, and now we have this classic yeshivish song. This is the type of song where no particular part of the song stands out any more than the rest. It’s a sweet kumzits composition. It’s easily singable, with plenty of “La la’s”.
Shtick – La la la la la… I dunno, you tell me which part is the best! :)

Aishes ChayilComposed by Yitzy Waldner in memory of two N’shei Yisroel.

It’s no Shwekey aishes chayil, but it’s still a wonderful composition and would sound great by a chassunah. Kaufman sings this one by himself. My favorite part is during the chorus from “He Tishalel” until “Masehuh”. The music throughout the song flows beautifully and the best part about it is that it’s not overdone. I’m sure the women that this song was composed for are smiling up in shamayim. I know I’m smiling down here on earth!
Shtick – (4:44 5:08) Beautiful, pumping music added to the song here

VyiskuComposed by Baruch Levine

Woohoo!!! Another Baruch Levine composition! (Can you tell I like his songs?) Although Levine doesn’t sing on this song, Kaufman does an outstanding job. It’s got the same “happy-go-lucky” chords that Baruch Levine throws on his fast songs (Sholom, Higid etc.). Hopefully, every album has a “gishmak” styled song on it. What do I mean? There are certain happy moments in life that you remember perfectly. For instance, jumping in a pool on a hot summer day; having the last scoop of ice cream; completing a task that you worked tirelessly on. Those are defined as “gishmak” moments. This song brings back those “gishmak” memories :). Here’s a cool note; compare this song to V’al Kein from Yeshiva Boys Choir 1. Very similar tune!
Shtick – (1:281:40) Smooth sounding voice over harmony.

HabitaComposed by Yossi Muller – Performed by A.K.A. Pella

Well folks, we’ve spotted it! The best song on the album composed by someone I’ve never heard of! Maybe it’s A.K.A. Pella’s voices on this song that makes it so good. I’m not sure, but it’s easily the best song on the album. Kaufman sounds terrific on this song and A.K.A. Pella’s harmonies are flawless. Just sit back and turn this song on repeat. Listen to it over and over, because I guarantee you won’t get sick of it. The second time around A.K.A. Pella inserts their digitally mastered harmonies that they use on all of their albums to fill the background of the song. Habita Aneini! (Sorry, I had a singing moment). Anyway, don’t miss a note of this wonderful song; you’ll regret it. Here’s another cool note; compare the chorus of this song to the Yeshiva Boys Choir’s Korov Hashem. Can ya hear it?
Shtick – (4:304:43) The way the harmonies here switch back and forth from the left to the right speaker is fantastic.

Sunshine in the Rain Composed by Yitzy Waldner – Lyrics by Bella Levitan – Performed by Abie Rotenberg and Cast

The lyrics on this song are fantastic. They were composed for A T.I.M.E. And they explain the life of childless parents. Exactly what this organization is trying to help. It’s sung by the whole cast and they do a terrific job with it. Got to love hearing Abie’s voice on an English song, after all, that is what he does best!
Shtick – (2:502:53) Pruz’s quick falsetto piece

SameachComposed by Yitzy Waldner

How can I describe this song? Funky? Crazy? Nuts? I don’t know, but it’s definitely different J. It sounds like something that I would expect to hear on the Kol Noar Boys Choir. I was half expecting it to be composed by Mo Kiss. Waldner definitely has a wide range in his composition ability. My question is why didn’t they bring Mo Kiss in for guest vocals? (“So Beautiful!”) :). Well, regardless, you have to listen to it yourself to understand the song. I can’t describe it in writing. If you want to come see me dance to it, then that may give you and idea!
Shtick – Every Ba ba ba badadada!

YevarechichaComposed by Yitzy Waldner

The music in this song makes me feel like I’m floating or that I’m in some sort of dream sequence. Regardless, it’s a nice lullaby. The music and vocals are very sweet and soft on the ears. It’s not a catchy song but it’s a great listen. The double harmony the second time around (2:34) is quite serene. I feel like this song should be playing for a baby while he or she is laying in their crib. Where’s my pacifier!? (Ya, I’m strange, but this is what happens when you spend a lot of time around little kids).
Shtick – (3:324:09) The la la’s sound like something out of nursery rhyme. Hehe!

Sunshine in the Rain (Acapella Version)Performed by A.K.A. Pella – Featuring Shloime Kaufman

They go above and beyond the call with this bonus track. You pay for 11 songs and a good 12th song is thrown in to the mix as well. And it’s not some mediocre song, it’s a quality remake of Sunshine in the Rain, but completely vocal. I actually like this version better than the musical one. A.K.A. Pella is way too good at what they do. The beats, the harmonies, the melody, they’re all so smooth and perfect. What a perfect song to end the album with.
Shtick – (2:492:56) Kaufman’s high harmony is amazing here

Final Verdict

Avodas Tzedaka is cram packed with at least 9 out of 12 solid songs. Which means that the majority of the album is great! We yidden rule by the rov (majority), so in my opinion, go out and buy this album! Not only will you be getting your money’s worth, but you will also be supporting the A T.I.M.E. organization, which “offers advocacy, education, guidance, research and support through our many programs to Jewish men, women, and couples struggling with reproductive health and infertility.” 1 Surely a worthy cause! Go buy it now! Go Go GO!!!!!! :)

1 A T.I.M.E. (http://www.atime.org/mission.html)


Facebook comments:


  1. SA says:

    From the clips, I thought that V’yisku also resembled Ira Heller’s Al Chomotayich a little but I can also see the resemblance to V’al Kein. From what I’ve heard it sounds like a great cd.

  2. JM Derech says:

    The cd is in fact fantastic. I think if they added a boys choir to that song it would have been that much better

  3. Mr Mintz says:

    I think this cd is up there with eighth note. Arrangements, this tony colucio is at least as good as lishinsky. Songs, there may not be an Anovim but there are no fillers like hesech hadas and mi adir , so i guess its about equal. And vocals are comparable . the only thing eighth note has over it is more variety while this is mostly pop. these may be my two favorite albums of all time. ( not including non conventional cds like journeys two or mbd english collection).

  4. JM Derech says:

    Mr Mintz: I couldn’t agree more. I think this album deserves a shot at album of the year.

  5. cocoapuffs says:

    where can i get this cd?

  6. V.G. says:

    Definitely an album worth analyzing. Avodas is an average song but the upbeat vocals and quality arrangements make it a keeper. Only I wouldntve opened the album with it. Yigdal is stunning, very smooth and pleasant. Ze lazeh will be a hit except maybe it needs an intro. Ana Hashem is Very nice and original. I wouldve wanted to hear some thunder in the high part though. its a little to mellow. ivdu is nice , done very well, I think he sounds like yeedle when he says kulam beyachad. aishes chayil is gorgeous. the descending base in the high part makes me listen over and over again. Viyizku, I would say is better than sholom but not as good as higid, but almost. Habita is really really powerful, its full of emotion and doesnt follow normal music patterns.(neither does yivarechicha ,hang on) It seems that the writer really had the meaning of the words in mind when he wrote the song. Now comes my two favorite songs on the album, sunshine and sameach . sunshine is a masterpiece- lyrics ,melody harmony the whole deal. Sameach is just amazing-great to dance to. its a little slower than a typical disco, allowing for many more dance moves, try it out. I also love the arrangements, its a really fun song. Babadadada! Yivarechicha is so original that i still cant sing it properly, and the intro is my favorite piece on the whole CD. And the bonus track is definitely a bonus. This shabbos was very hard for me to take a break from it. I never thought I would ever say that about any album but i did. overall I like the second half of the Cd better. Very impressed over all.

  7. Kol Isha says:

    Cocoapuffs: I would try your local Judaica store. If they don’t have it, you can always order it online from mostlymusic.com. As of a few minutes ago, I did NOT see it on jewishjukebox.com.

  8. JM Derech says:

    V.G: I think you’re the one who should have written this review ;) I see you enjoyed this album just as much as I did and then some! It’s truly an amazing album.

  9. Reb Yid says:

    I just got the CD. I usually rate a CD based on how much its worth to me. Most Cds are worth somewhere between 5 and 10 dollars and I dont get them.. This years exceptions are Eighth note- value 18 dollars. Omar dovid – value 16 dollars. Lev Echad- value 16 dollars. A poshiter yid- Value 15 dollars. Its a llittle to early to put a dollar value to this CD, but it looks like it will be in the 15+ dollar range.I realise that this is not a politically correct way to rate CD’s But its the most practical. All time highest CD ratings ; Yeedle four- 25 dollars, Chazak- 22 dollars, Journeys two- 20 dollars, Shomati- 20 dollars, Ill never walk alone in the desert- 19 dollars. Eighth note joins many others in the 18 dollar range, including Journeys 3, Brocho vehatslochah, yedid, My fellow jew, Moshiach, and Aish one. MBD, Fried,and Shwekey consistantly bang out 15+ CD’s So may Gertner, Gabay, and Boruch levine.

  10. Critic says:

    Im waiting for a second opinion but no one else from the oilam hatorah (life of rubin, Gruntig, etc.) posted reviews yet .

  11. Rembrant says:

    Mr Mints : Comparing it to eighth note is a stretch. Listen again to the eighth note. I also like the CD but its not yossi green…

  12. JM Derech says:

    Critic: Just listen to the preview on Mostlymusic that should do it for you. It’s definitely worth the purchase.
    Rembrant: It’s a matter of taste. I personally didn’t enjoy the 8th note. I thought the songs were a little crazy.

  13. K B says:

    The music is very good. each instrument is doing their own thing. very unpredictable.

  14. Sam says:

    Every time i hear sunshine in the rain , Im reminded of Hearts of gold. The whole cast singing it with the wild harmonys etc.

  15. Yossi Muller says:


  16. S M says:

    I googled tony coluccio. He is big big stuff.

  17. Z says:

    took some time to grow on me but now i like it.

  18. Mayor says:

    I just broke my music fast with this cd. Its aight.

  19. Mayor says:

    I think Im walking down to habeeta

  20. Danielishay says:

    i dont hear all the album. only Sunshine in thr rain
    its so fantastic!
    akapella is great
    and of course Shlomi Kaufman.

  21. Yaakov W. says:

    In case anyone was wondering 2 of the songs on this album have been recorded before
    Yigdal was on Emes Volume 1. Eshes Chayil was on Emes Volume 2 and was performed by Shloime Dachs on that album.

  22. Buddy T says:

    I have only heard the samples of this online. Who mixed this? it sounds amazing on my headphones! I can’t wait to get the cd.

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