The Comedian Harmonists

The Comedian Harmonists

The Comedian Harmonists

Rykodisc

It is the most inauspicious and trite way of beginning a music review, however in this case it is true. Listening to this album is like traveling back in time to the Berlin of the 1930’s. This compilation contains tracks recorded within the years of 1928-1933, the all too brief heyday of the German group the Comedian Harmonists. (They were blacklisted by the Nazis and three of their members had to flee Germany.) The styles vary, but the songs range from American jazz standards, continental show tunes, and even cabaret songs. However, what prevents this album from being merely a historical memento are the harmonies. The voices and styles are stellar and the range of the members is incredible. They interact in a clever interplay of words as well as mimicking sounds and even one another.

Although most of the songs are sung in German, this does not detract from the joy and beauty of the music. If you really need to follow along, the disc contains select translations of their songs. Anyone who has more than a passing interest in jazz or the beauty the human voice is capable of should purchase this disc. This is the first in a series of reissues of the Comedian Harmonists titles.

Rykodisc, Shetland Park, 27 Congress St., Salem, MA 01970; http://www.rykodisc.com

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