For all those who missed my introduction and part one (volumes 1-3) here it is:http://jewishmusicreport.com/2011/07/01/review-of-hasc-the-remastered-collectors-edition-part-1-volumes-1-3/
HASC 4: Right off the bat, my first impression when it came out was WOW, and that was even before I opened up the triple cassette. Yes, I said triple, as in 3! The concert had gotten longer (or at least there was more material to share with the consumer) and now I had more music to enjoy! The Neginah Orchestra, conducted by Yisroel Lamm, begins with an overture, once again featuring features the original HASC theme song, this time in a rock style and later in the more classical style. I really used to look forward to hearing how they tweaked and changed the song every year. They also play an instrumental Memories Medley, which features some of the hit songs performed at the first three HASC concerts. The concert featured both of Abie Rotenberg’s groups, Journeys, singing Time to Say Good Shabbos and Ride the Train, and Dveykus, singing some of their hit songs, including one of my favorites, Shalom Rav. Abie also composed another song special for HASC, Candles, and it is performed by him and the entire cast. The entire cast also sings the Finale, U’vney, from Abie Rotenberg’s first Lev V’Nefesh album (and one of my favorite songs back then. Mordechai Ben David, is once again one the main performers, and he sings among other songs, a couple of medleys with some of his hit songs, Refa’einu, composed by Yerachmiel Begun and originally performed by Miami Boys Choir (I really love MBD’s rendition of the song), once again Yidin, and at the time his newest hit song, Daaga Minayin, complete with the original vocal tracks that begin the song on his “Double Album”. The Goldshmid Brothers, known as Kol Achai, sing one of their songs, Hinei Ma Tov. I always liked their work, and actually own all four of their albums, the last released in 2003. Their harmonies and togetherness, is very nice and enjoyable, and since I did see this concert on video, they even choreographed to move together on stage in step. The main highlight and performer of the evening, was The London School of Jewish Song, under the leadership of Yigal Calek. I know it wasn’t their first ever performance in the US, since they came to the US in December of 1976 (I was at their Chicago concert, but I was busy learning with the malach, so I don’t remember anything from that evening), but for the choir to come over was a big deal. They sing many of their hits and favorite songs, including Ko Amar, Mareh Cohen (yes, it is one of their songs from the 70’s), Vechi Yadav, Oshirah, and many more of my favorite songs. I grew up listening to their records, so I really enjoyed hearing them live in concert. This concert also marked the first concert where Nachum Segal was involved, as he was the Master of Ceremonies along with Zale Neuman. This was one concert I know I enjoyed, and would have loved to be at live.
HASC 5: The concert, called “Five Years in the Making” was another innovative concert. For starters, it’s the first one I have on CD, which I am pretty sure means it was the first one released on CD when the concert was originally released. It also features a brand new HASC theme song, titled “A Time For Music”, composed by Yossi Green with unbelievable lyrics by Abie Rotenberg. It is sung at the beginning by The MBD Vocal Quartet and at the end by the entire cast (and I love the Piamenta Brother’s line….”but time has come now we must part.” I don’t know why, but I always got a kick out of it). The Regesh Vocal Ensemble, with Abish Brodt singing behind a curtain, sings Shalom Aleichem (with the Piamenta Brothers singing Barchuni) and Modeh Ani (I love how Abish goes an octave higher on the low part to end the song). A few notable members of The Regesh Vocal Ensemble are Shloimy Dachs (one of the soloists), Avremi Gourarie (known to the world as Avremi G), and the director, Rabbi Eli Cohen (master keyboardist). They also sing another song, V’yaazor, later in the concert. Mordechai Ben David is the night’s featured performer and has several interesting additions to the concert. He sings a Regesh song, S’lach and Ma Ashiv (the one he made famous from an All Star tape) with the Ensemble. He sings a couple of songs with The MBD Quartet, and Neshomele with Abie Rotenberg. My two favorites by MBD are the History Medley, where he imitates many of the previous generation’s musical “superstars”, and Reminiscing, where he narrates and his son Yeedle sings, all about his own journey through Jewish music. The highlight of the evening however, is the “Showcase of the Masters”, a classical performance by Yisroel Lamm and the Neginah Orchestra, along with some of the amazing musicians of our time. My two personal favorites are Yaron Gershovsky’s version of Abie Rotenberg’s Hamalach, and Yossi Piamenta’s adaption of the Sabre Dance, which he renames the Sabra Dance.
HASC 6: This concert was called The HASC Concert of a Lifetime. It certainly had a multitude of performers, and is quite packed with memorable performances. To begin with, the main performer, yes once again Mordechai Ben David, only sings 3 of his own songs, Rashi’s Nigun (where he screams out in the middle “shmaltzer”), Moshiach, and Ko Amar (composed by Yossi Green, Mona Rosenblum, and Chaim Banet respectively , and sung as part of the composers tribute), plus 2 other songs that we will talk about later. There is a new HASC theme song, that also incorporates the earlier songs, and other HASC favorites. Abie Rotenberg sings a HASC medley, featuring his compositions for HASC from over the past few years concerts, followed by a medley of HASC favorites sung by Mona Rosenblum and his vocal Sextet, including famous drummer, producer and arranger Yochi Briskman (and a special shout out to my old friend and fellow Chicagoan, Chaim Richter, for his chazzanus). Yoel Sharabi, one of the performers from the first HASC concert, returns and sings A Prayer for HASC, including some really funny (and corny) jokes. Yossi Piamenta sings a song, Vaani, with his signature guitar solos interspersed throughout the song, and Yaron Gershovsky plays another classical/contemporary piece, named Tain Shabbat/Pitome Medley. Avraham Rosenblum and Ruby Harris, both of Diaspora Yeshiva Band, perform one of Diaspora’s big hits, Tzaddik. Then there is a tribute to many of the top composers in Jewish music. Yossi Green,Mona Rosenblum and Chaim Banet, all have songs sung by MBD. Abie Rotenberg’s Hamalach is sung by a duet of Dov Levine and Rivie Schwebel. Shlomo Simcha, who at the time is new to the Jewish Music scene, makes his HASC debut singing one of Moshe Laufer’s songs. Another great friend of HASC who also makes his HASC debut, and at the time was also a relative newcomer to the Jewish Music scene, is Dedi, who sings a Yossi Green song from his debut album, which incidentally was Yossi’s first foray into producing albums. Dov Levine also sang a solo medley of songs composed by Yerachmiel Begun and Rabbi Shmuel Brazil. Before I get to my two personal favorite highlights of the concert, I want to jump to the end of the concert, where there is a Composer Finale, where Yigal Calek and the London Vocal Quartet sing and narrate a tribute for the composers, with Shlomo Carlebach joining them for his song, and the new HASC theme song being sung by the cast (including Yossi Green singing in his HASC debut as well) for the Concert Finale. I do find it ironic that back then they had the same song used for the Opening and Finale, and it was (and still is) so enjoyable. The first of my two favorite highlights of the concert are: The song Ki Heim composed by Boruch Chait, and performed by him and Mordechai Ben David. R’ Boruch talks about the anatomy of a song, and shows how it is composed. He first plays the song on his guitar and harmonica, and eventually is joined by MBD, accompanied by Yisroel Lamm and the Neginah Orchestra. It was a song composed a couple of weeks earlier on the spot for some cancer stricken boys. I have always had a special spot in my heart for that song. It is later found on one of Dedi’s albums, but it is always a HASC concert original in my mind. The other one of my favorite highlights is the section of the composer’s tribute dedicated to Shlomo Carlebach, and performed by Abie Rotenberg, MBD, and in a surprise, Shlomo Carlebach showed up and joined them on stage singing Ana Hashem, Esa Einai, Borchi Nafshi, and V’Yesayu. I can’t even imagine nowadays anyone showing up in the middle of a concert and making it on stage, but R’ Shlomo was one of a kind! This was really a HASC concert of a lifetime!
HASC 7: This concert was called The Next Stage, and they changed the format and venue for the concert. The concert was held at Radio City Music Hall, and it was mostly a play, with vocal performances mixed in. I must say, since I never watched the concert, and only had the audio, it was not my favorite concert, as it is only 1 CD, and there is much less audio content. Supposedly this was a very revolutionary performance, and is much more enjoyable being watched (maybe I’ll go watch it at my in-laws house one day).The concert begins with a new HASC theme song, named The Next Stage of A Time For Music, composed by Yossi Green, and performed by the Time For Music Vocal Quartet, Yerachmiel Begun and the Miami Boys Choir, and Mordechai Ben David. Of course the original theme song finds its way into the middle of the song. I find it real cute how every year they tried to find a new name for the adult choir each year! The first performer of the night is Sandy Shmuely, singing Shabbat Shalom. This is one of only two songs of his I have ever heard, but it was one of my highlights of the concert. Yerachmiel Begun and the Miami Boys Choir are the next performers, singing one of their hit songs, and my favorites from back in the day, Lo Yisa Goy. They also perform later on in the evening A Wedding in Chelm, together with the Chelm Chasidic Singers and Dancers, interspersing some of the famous traditional wedding songs with some of their hit songs. Mordechai Ben David sings a Yosselle Rosenblatt song, Keli Keli, one of his son Yeedle’s songs, Oz Yemoleh, and Mimkomcha (which is one of my favorite classic MBD songs). there is also a special performance of Spanish Rhapsody by world famous clarinet virtuoso Andy Statman. Abie Rotenberg and MBD sing another one of Abie’s special HASC compositions, Hamalach (not his famous song by the same name). This is a very interesting song because he mixes in English and Hebrew lyrics, and even though it has never become famous, it was also one of my favorites from this concert. The Grand Finale of the concert is once again the same theme song from the opening of the concert, performed by the cast. This time around the original HASC theme song gets more play time. This concert seems to have been a fabulous concert, and even though it wasn’t my favorite, it still is an enjoyable listen.
In conclusion, this DVD set is a must have for collectors and lovers of Jewish Music. It is worth it just to hear what Jewish Music once was, and to hear the beginning of the tradition that is now about to be 25 years old, the HASC concert!
This can be purchased at http://www.mostlymusic.com/hasc-the-remastered-collectors-edition.html