Wednesday, November 23, 2016

VIDEO: Yiddish Hillbillies -- the music of Mickey Katz

Agent 3 sent us this riddle joke...
Q. What has four legs and chases cats?
A. Mrs Katz and her lawyer!
Better, I guess, if you hear it instead of reading it.

Here's the connection to the video. Agent 3 and Walt share a liking for klezmer (Yiddish: כליזמר or קלעזמער) music. [So let's have no more talk about Walt being anti-Semitic! Ed.] Klezmer is a musical tradition of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. Played by professional musicians called klezmorim, the genre originally consisted largely of dance tunes and instrumental display pieces for weddings and other celebrations. In the United States the genre evolved considerably as Yiddish-speaking Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe, who arrived between 1880 and 1924, met and assimilated American jazz.

Which brings us [at last! Ed.] to Meir Myron "Mickey" Katz (15/6/1909 – 30/4/1985), an American comedian and musician who specialized in Jewish humor. He was the father of actor Joel Grey -- famous for his portrayal of Emcee in Cabaret -- and grandfather of actress Jennifer Grey. His first moments of fame came in the 1940s as a member of Spike Jones's City Slickers, where he was known for his "glugging" vocal sound effects on tunes like "Cocktails for Two".

Mr Katz He later went on to form his own band, Mickey Katz and His Krazy Kittens. He created his own parodic musical review and recorded highly popular "ethnic" comedy albums, including English-Yiddish parodies, on the Capitol label. He was recognized as a master of klezmer-style clarinet and had several hits during his long career. Though Katz sang primarily in Yiddish, he is often as recognized as one of the godfathers of American song parody which would later be advanced by the likes of Allan Sherman and Weird Al Yankovic.

In 2009, a chap who posts on YouTube as "CineGraphic Studios" put some of Mickey Katz's music together with some vintage 16mm films -- one of his first attempts (he writes) at manipulating film to music. Here is the very fine result.

Like it? Click here to see the trailer for The Mickey Katz Project, a movie about the life and work of Mickey Katz. [Duh! Ed.]

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