Most aficionados of 78 rpm world music are already familiar with klezmer, the Jewish music that originated in Eastern Europe and was then developed further by immigrants in the United States. One of the great early orchestras was led by clarinetist Harry Kandel. Kandel was born in 1885, in what is now Ukraine. He was a conservatory trained musician when he immigrated to New York in 1905. He began playing on the vaudeville circuit, he then played in Sousa’s band before starting his own orchestra in 1916. He recorded his first session for Victor a year later. He retired in the mid-1920s to run a music store in Philadelphia.
His recordings are always fun, intense dance pieces. While Kandel was part of the new musical melting pot of America, his recordings still have an old world sound reminiscent of bands from other Balkan areas.
To start things off, here are two songs from May 6, 1921.
Here’s another interesting melody with a tonal center that shifts between F major and it’s relative minor, D. This song was a wedding processional used to accompany the bride and groom home from the temple. Jacob Hoffman is featured on xylophone.
Der Gassen Nigen (The Street Melody)
Victor 77018b (1923)
Another from the same session as Der Gassen Nigen held on January 24, 1923.
Die Goldene Chassina (Golden Wedding)
Victor 73729a (1923)
In the Jewish music of Eastern Europe, the body of modes or scales are called shteyger. This song is in ahava-raba, which is similar to a mode known as hijaz in the Greek and Turkish modal systems (Greek = dromoi, Turkish = maqam).
Simachas Toirah in der Alter Haim (Rejoicing of the Torah in the Old Country)
Victor 77163b (1923)