If you're planning on attending any of the Jewish Music Festival's myriad concerts this week solely to soak in some sentimental Klezmer songs that'll make you want to reach for a bagel and lox, you'd best stay home and give your worn-out copy of the Yentl soundtrack another spin. The fest -- a Bay Area institution known for innovative programming now celebrating its 23rd year -- really is an affirmation of the wonderful absurdity of the term "Jewish music." This year the stylistic sprawl is no less impressive than in years past. Offerings range from Klezmatics-founder Frank London's A Night in the Old Marketplace -- a song cycle based on a Yiddish play from 1907 -- to Polish ceremonial singing from Brooklyn Hasidic cantor Benzion Miller, to Jewish folk-punk from New York's Golem. Perhaps the most intriguing event is the closing performance, a commissioned collaboration of nine internationally renowned artists/composers, including such local gems as vocalist Jewlia Eisenburg and cellist Jessica Ivry. Titled Cyclical Ritual (Part One): Spring, the piece was composed during a weeklong residency by the performers, who -- in their mix of a Ukrainian vocalist, an Israeli mandolin virtuoso, a New Orleanian accordionist, and others -- are the living example of the astonishing breadth of modern Jewish music.
Wed., March 26, 9 p.m., 2008