EP REVIEW: Tshok – ‘Live at the Penthouse’


Tshok play klezmer, but it’s klezmer that pushes the envelope, it’s kind of more jazzy than you’d usually expect. And they throw in all sorts of other stuff. If you didn’t know, Klezmer is traditional Eastern European dance music – specifically Eastern European Jewish dance music, although the form we’d be more used to hearing is influenced by jazz. This is what Tshok play, or what they play is based on. And before we get into the review, klezmer is instrumental and these tracks are too.

The opening track ‘Bulgar’ is a blast. It constantly changes tempo, throws in jazzy solos, suddenly gets all smooth, and takes off at breakneck speed. The stand out instrument here is clarinet, and boy is that good. It’s like a series of variations on a theme that come back to a huge throbbing horn riff. You can dance to this – it’s a bit wild, you have to watch out for those tempo changes but you could. Actually you should, this isn’t music that lets you stand there not moving to it.

‘The Dome’ is something more jazzy. In fact it’s more jazz with hints of klezmer. And it’s wild people. Drums sound out a beat to die for, horns take you great great places, sections that build leave you breathless. The saxophone section is something that you find yourself waiting for, it’s a joy. You are left both speechless at the musical skill on show, and with a huge smile on your face.

Tshok close out the EP with ‘Kolomeike’. A return to that klezmer thing. A slow intro builds in tempo, until it’s rushing at you. The clarinet takes the main stage here. Then it dives into a slower section, horns blasting out. Then there’s some sort of stringed instrument, then guitar. And then we back into a driving fast section. This people is way cool.

Before I finish the review there’s something of an ‘elephant in the room’ I need to address – that is, is a band playing brought bang up to date klezmer/jazz fusion style music a world music niche thing? I say no, this is great dance music, party music, music to get wild to. Think of it as jazz with a huge dose of Eastern European influence.

And the big thing here is that Tshok play incredibly well, it’s obvious that they are people who know their way around their instruments, and more importantly know how to weave that playing together into something fantastic.

Put this on, get your dancing feet ready and go wild people.

The info

Tshok is a Leeds-based band all about fusing Balkan and North African sounds with funk, jazz, drum ‘n’ bass and much more.

A whirlwind of klezmer clarinet, balkan brass and Nubian-inspired funk, they were recently awarded funding through the Launchpad Scheme for emerging artists run by Music:Leeds.

Upcoming summer festivals include (subject to cancellation due to covid) include Camp Bestival and World on our Doorstep Festival.


More about klezmer: https://www.iemj.org/en/onlinecontent/feature-articles/secular-music/klezmer-music-from-the-past-to-the-present.html

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Frank is the website guy for Local Sound Focus. Takes a lot of photos and loves writing about new music.