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Setting fire to some truly ancient roots; POST REVIEW The Burning Bush Leamington Baptist Church.

The Burning Bush ranks among the more eclectic performers of this year's excellent Warwick and Leamington Festival. Founded by Lucie Skeaping, formerly of the children's television programme Playschool, this six-strong group specialises in Jewish music o f the Sephardi, Mediterranean, and Ashkenazi, eastern European, traditions.

Most of this fascinating music, some of it mediaeval in origin, some much more recent, has been preserved orally across the European countries where the diaspora was found, especially Spain, Eastern Europe and the Balkans. From it has grown the Klezmer, the compelling Yiddish dance music of Poland and Russia, which is being rediscovered by enthusiastic audiences everywhere.

The programme showed of the two distinct traditions, the Mediterranean and North African style of the sephardi, and the robust and boisterous eastern and Balkan songs and dances. It varies between the folksy and near-religious, but there is nothing preci ous about this repertoire.

The band is blessed with an outstandingly fine clarinetist in Ben Harlan, a witty and charismatic improviser whose alluring solos are underpinned by accordion, bass and the plucked strings. Lucie Skeaping herself has remarkable range of voices, and manag es to change her timbre and even her persona to suit the differing styles of the two traditions.

The festival runs to July 11.

John Bradshaw
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Jul 10, 1998
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