Many professional choirs and choir leaders have come and gone over the years, but one constant in the Jewish Music scene is Yerachmiel Begun and the Miami Boys Choir. I grew up listening to B’siyata Dishmaya and Klal Yisroel Together, and can remember the frenzy when Shabbos Yerushalayim came out. I couldn’t wait to go out and buy the tape after hearing them perform Devai Haser at a concert in Chicago. Of course I can technically go back to Victory Entebbe since my mother sang the songs from that (ahem) record to me when she used to change my diapers (something she once told Yerachmiel very proudly, and surprisingly he didn’t find it amusing, but that’s a whole other story). I have a personal shita about boy’s choirs, but due to time constraints I will save it for the next choir review I write. When I think of Yerachmiel Begun and Miami Boys Choir, I think of innovation and spectacular quality that have made them a popular choir for over 35 years. Whether it is one of their new albums (from records to tapes to CDs, and now with digital downloads) or one of their patented Miami Experiences, there always seems to be something that they do to outdo themselves and surprise us all. Hearing that they were coming out with a new album, had me interested and intrigued to find out what new chiddush they would have this time around. One thing I notice right away about the cover of the album is that everyone is wearing their own tie, not like the norm of everyone wearing a matching tie and all dressed alike. As much as matching looks nice (yes I have a tie that matches with my 7 year old son’s tie that I wear sometimes) it is nice that the boys show individuality and are allowed to express themselves (as one of my aunts once told me that the tie is a man’s way to express their taste in fashion). I also notice that the adult choir is the famous Shira Choir, along with a couple of Israeli choirs, one led by Mona Rosenblum and the other by Menachem Klein. The biggest chiddush that I see however is that the Miami Boys Choir now has an Israeli branch, Miami East, and they make their debut on this album. Before I go into detail for every song, I must say that this is another prototypical Yerachmiel Begun masterpiece. If you like his work up until now, you will love this album as well.
Here is my song by song assessment:
Shma Yisroel- Miami Boys CDs generally start off with a bang and a real hit song (thinking here about Revach) and Shma Yisroel has that feeling to it. The song begins (after the intro) with a few soloists. I think to rev everyone up would have been better to have the entire choir singing (and my wife, a huge MBC fan pointed it out to me independently), but this song sounds like a nice Miami Boys style song. The words for the high part are also a little complicated and in my opinion a hit Miami song usually has easy lyrics for the high part that you just want to sing over and over again (thinking again about Revach). The high part, though, is catchy, so it might end up as a hit song in the end.
Me La’Hashem Ailai- Miami is known for really nice and meaningful English songs, and this song, with the lyrics written by Yerachmiel and his wife Shoshana, is another nice sweet and meaningful song.
Yosis- Any time I hear a slow song to words associated to words from a wedding, I have an automatic flashback to Miami Boys Mehayrah, and this song with the mix of words from Lecha Dodi and words said after the chosson walks down the chupah gives me that automatic flashback. While I do not normally like two slow songs one after the other on an album, this song is a nice hartzige song.
Vtahair- A nice lebedik song, in my opinion, more probable of becoming the new Miami hit song than Shma Yisroel. The high part is equally catchy with much more simple lyrics.
Ashrai- Another pleasant lebedik song. The words remind me of the famous song we sing on Simchas Torah. I like the cute trumpet interlude.
Torah Tavlin- This song has the prototypical sound and feel of a Miami slow song. The words, from the Gemarah Kedushin and Mesilas Yesharim, are inspiring. This is not one of my favorites from this album.
Oh Hashem- A techno style song, with interspersed violin solos by Stanislav Nicholov. This song sounds similar to Mendy Wald’s Echod. I am not a fan of the techno sound, but the words are meaningful and based upon a Radak.
Hatov- This is probably my favorite song on this album. It is a really nice and sweet song, and I think the simple arrangements leave enough to my imagination that I feel like I can sing with and add another nice harmony to it. This song is also the only slow song under 5 minutes, and in my opinion the perfect length.
Melech- This is an upbeat song in the prototypical Miami style. If you are a fan of Miami Boys then you’ll like this song.
Ki Lecha- This is another slow hartzige song, also with the prototypical sound and feel of a Miami slow song. I enjoyed listening to the song, but it is a little too long for my taste.
Ad Musai- A real lebedik song that reminds me of Kein from Revach, and it really ends the regular part of the album with a bang. The song is arranged by a collaboration of Yerachmiel Begun and Mona Rosenblum, with Mona’s preference for real bright brass really sticking out. The adult choir harmonies are performed on this song by Mona’s choir and The Shira Choir.
Hebrew Version – Me La’Hashem Ailai- The music itself is the same as the English version, so my opinion of the song is the same. It is a nice “knaytch” to have the song also sung in Hebrew. This is the first sighting that we have of the new venture of Yerachmiel, Miami East, under the direction of Menachem Klein. I think the Israeli accented Hebrew is much nicer than other earlier tries to imitate the accent. I am curious what the future of this choir will bring, but for a debut I am impressed.
In conclusion, I think this album is another solid Yerachmiel Begun and Miami Boys Choir production. If you are a fan of theirs, you will like this album as well.