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Ashkenaz Festival event connects the historical dots of 1950s’ blues

Got my mazel tov working, but will it work on you?

The musical relationship between blacks and Jews extends well beyond the Chess brothers and their commercializing of the blues in the 1950s.

In 2010, the cleverly titled compilation Black Sabbath: The Secret Musical History of Black-Jewish Relations explored a significant cross-pollination, with tracks that find the Temptations not talking about my goy, but getting funky with Fiddler on the Roof instead.

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As well, the jazzer Slim Gaillard swings himself silly on Dunkin' Bagel, which is a song, not a breakfast-food franchise.

On Aug. 30, as part of the cheerily programmed Ashkenaz Festival of global Jewish music and culture (happening Aug. 26 to Sept. 1 at Toronto's Harbourfront Centre), the klezmer aficionado Aaron Kula connects musical dots, using historical commentary, images and recordings.

And so, attendees to the session will not only hear Billie Holiday moaning My Yiddishe Mame, they'll learn the context of a most kosher collaboration.

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About the Author

Brad Wheeler is an arts reporter with The Globe and Mail. More


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