See what the press are saying about LET’S…
The Yiddish Twist Orchestra is a London-based big band reinventing the sound of the Jewish Twist, or der shvitz. The joke is that after causing a sensation in London’s east end, der shvitz crossed the Atlantic to become the Twist. And maybe it’s no joke. The eight-piece band features piano and Hammond organ, clarinet and horn section. The vocals are taken by larger-than-life Natty Bo (of Ska Cubano) and liberally sprinkled with Yiddish humour. There are classics such as Bei Mir Bistu Shein, but more intriguing are the Yiddish Caribbean numbers, such as Beigels.Simon Broughton - The Evening Standard See the clipping
YTO have been plying their cool, crazy and kosher com- bination of Jewish, Caribbean, Latin and vin- tage rock’n’roll influences around London’s finer dives for a few years now. In fact, I must declare an interest here. I DJed for them a few
times and wrote about them for this very mag a few years back. Not that I’ve heard anything from them recently (they don’t write, they don’t phone), perhaps they’ve been too busy working on this their debut album. Featuring some of the UK’s finest players including Friend of Mustapha Ben Mandelson, saxman David Bitelli and Robin Harris on Hammond organ, all topped off with vocals from Ska Cubano frontman Natty Bo on seven of the twelve tracks, Let’s offers up an alternative universe of 50 years ago, where London’s working community of Jewish musicians mixed the rocking sounds they played in late-night dives with the Yid- disher tunes they performed at weddings and bar mitzvahs.
So, their version of that old Jewish musical standard Mazl clearly bears the influence of the Ravens’ early ’50s doo-wop reading; there’s a twangy, jazzy take on The Internationale and inevitably, a Slim Gail- lard tune (Mishugana Mambo, a new one on me). There are a couple of originals thrown in too: the self-explanatory Let’s Yiddish Twist and the pleasingly lascivious Shake Your Tukhus.
Here’s a band who are free of preten- sions though the overriding good humour and sense of fun in no way detract from the fine playing and smart arrangements on offer and Natty Bo certainly knows how to put over a song. Let’s Yiddish twist!
Imagine: it’s the late 1950s in London’s East End, and there’s an adventurous Jewish dance band who mix klezmer and Yiddish songs with the new musical influences that have been drifting in from the docks. From the US there’s R&B and early rock’n’roll, and from the Caribbean there are ska and Cuban styles. That’s the cheerful conceit behind Yiddish Twist Orchestra, a band of eight impressive musicians including twanging guitarist Ben Mandelson, who has played with Billy Bragg and Les Triaboliques, and singer Natty Bo from Ska Cubano. They start out with the cheerful singalong Mazl, a song about good luck and making a buck, and continue in the same style, with a Yiddish twist song (of course) and Beigels, which mixes calypso with stories from Whitechapel. There are too many instrumentals, and there’s no sign of their occasional vocalist Sam Lee, but this is enormous fun.Robin Denselow - The Guardian See the clipping
What’s most admirable about this London outfit’s debut album is that their own compositions sit comfortably alongside forgotten gems and bona fide classics from the 1920s through to the 1950s. Largely that’s because the line-up – which includes charismatic south London dandy Natty Bo (Ska Cubano) on vocals and Ben Mandelson (Magazine, Les Triaboliques) on guitar – attacks the material with such verve.
For example, they lend Slim Gaillard’s “Mishugana Mambo” a 1970s Blaxsploitation funk vibe and produce a freshly baked version of Max Bacon’s “Beigels” that charms as much as the original. Essentially, Let’s! is an alternative goodtime party record by a super-tight big band. In other words, what’s not to like?