Here’s something you don’t hear too often — Jewish a cappella singers.
This particular group — called Listen Up! — just came out with a new CD, “Day Job,” in which it blends traditional Jewish chants, rock ‘n’ roll standards and a unique brand of humor (anyone who’s ever had to drag himself out of bed at the crack of dawn to make a minyan will laugh aloud at “Early Minyan Man”).
Rest assured, this is no barbershop quartet and the singers don’t perform in uniformed cardigan sweaters. These guys are very serious about their music — even the funny tracks.
There’s no real theme to this CD. It opens with some soulfully moving tracks such as “Lo Alecha” and “Kah Ribon” (ever hear a cappella in Hebrew? Here’s your chance), gets silly with “Early Minyan Man,” goes traditional with “L’Cha Dodi” then covers George Harrison with “Here Comes the Sun.”
You think they’re trying to prove that a cappella is more versatile than just “A Bicycle Built for Two” or “The Good Ol’ Summertime?” Naaah.
But this Chicago-based quartet has a clean, meticulous sound. As the members gesticulate their vocal chords to make the “bum bum bum,” do wha do” or “chk chk chk” sounds, you can actually believe their playing actual musical instruments.
Well, they are — their voices.
Listen Up! is Kevin Kirshenbaum, AY Karsh, Steve Singer and Yaakov Weiner. Check out the liners notes in their diamond box on this CD; you’ll see for yourselves this group takes its music seriously, but perhaps not so much itself, which is healthy. Listen Up! Is definitely worth a listen.
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)