Yiddish Twist Orchestra
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Yiddish Twist Orchestra

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

London, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Jazz World


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This band has not uploaded any videos



"Yiddish Twist Orchestra, Regents Park, September 11th, 2011"

Yiddish Twist Orchestra are a band with a mission, and their own quirky mythology. Their aim, they say, is to revive the forgotten music of 50s London, a time when klezmer and other Jewish styles interacted with West Indian and Latin dance music, early rock'n'roll, and the Twist (or der shvitz, as they insist it was known before it was taken up by the Americans). Their "lost hero" is Willy Bergman, a "deranged bandleader" who brought all these influences together in the East End, but was forever changing his name and has never been tracked down. It's an entertaining tale that could make a great musical, and has allowed a classy group of musicians to develop a fusion style that was ideally suited to the Klezmer in the Park free festival.

Gathered on the bandstand by the lake in Regent's Park were a nine-piece band that included well-known figures not normally seen on stage in suits and ties, including trumpeter Lemez Lovas, one of the founders of Oi Va Voi, and guitarist Ben Mandelson, best known for his work with Billy Bragg and Les Triaboliques. They started with a series of slinky instrumentals, and then began to experiment, with slick brass and woodwind arrangements matched against keyboards and twanging surf guitar. In the past, their vocalist was Natty Bo of Ska Cubano, but here that role was taken by the young British folk singer Sam Lee. Half-hidden beneath a large black hat, he proved to be an efficient crooning balladeer who could switch to calypso or the jazz-edged Bagels – a story of cosmopolitan London set in Whitechapel Lane – and then a Victorian song about a Jewish policeman in Aberdeen.

The entertainingly varied set ended with a clash of klezmer and Cuban dance. - Guardian, UK


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Plays Willy Bergman Live EP (YTO 001), 2011

'Intzenationale' released on Revolution Disko (Trikont, 2010) - Album of the Month, Funkhaus Europa, Germany

Debut album coming summer 2013, recorded by Roger Bechirian (Elvis Costello) and produced by Lemez and Fridel


“Best track [on the compilation] is from the Yiddish Twist Orchestra, with their rocking surf guitar anthem”

Abendzeitung Munich
"Musicianship of staggeringly high quality: jaw-dropping solos and witty banter... Tickets will fly out for their next visit"

York Press
"A band with style, excitement... The Yiddish Twist Orchestra who performed at The Sage last Sunday night had the audience stood on their feet, shaking their hips... I knew I was in for a treat. A vibrant and outrageously funky form of escapism that sucked the whole audience right in."

Sage, Gateshead review
"A blazing brass section , two nifty connoisseurs of the electric guitar, and a drummer with rhythm deep in his bones... [Singer Natty] is a big personality who persuaded the most reluctant of dancers in hall 2 to get up and wiggle... Yiddish Twist are one band not to miss."

Roots Of The Word
"The Yiddish Twist Orchestra is not klezmer, though you might think so from the name. It’s hard to say exactly what it is, other than a topnotch band that delighted its audience by fluently quoting everything from the Dayenu to West Side Story to the Benny Hill theme during a Monday night show at the Apex in Bury St. Edmund. The rings in its Venn diagram include swing, jazz, Latin, cabaret, Middle Eastern, Vegas lounge, early rock’n'roll, Eurovision, trance, and okay, klezmer (though in a brighter key than usual [1]).

The group led by guitarist Ben Mandelson and Nord keyboardist Robin Harris project confidence from the first notes – even if you don’t know what they’re going to do, they do and so you can relax, except for the mental reference engine. (Los Lobos. Dizzy Gillespie. Pulp Fiction soundtrack. Jerry Lee Lewis. Nat Newborn and Lounge Lions.) Visually, they’re an ironic retro act, a callback to LP sleeves with guys in sharp suits plying their shiny horns in front of a richly colored drape.

Singer Natty Bo, the man in the leopardskin cap, delivered mambo and Yiddish themed songs like “Mazel” in a voice that channeled Louis Prima. He got the audience on their feet and, in the climax of the show, threw bagels at them. The promotional flyer claims the London-based band is reviving “der shvitz,” a relic of Britain’s postwar globalization that “crossed the Atlantic in diluted form as the Twist.” Is this a hoax? Probably. Does it matter? No. Yiddish Twist are good enough to do without genre as justification for their music."

Field Notes
" 'an hallucinating mix of surf rock guitar, West Indian calypso, mambo, skiffle and Jewish folk melodies’ was too intriguing to miss.

When we arrived, just before the orchestra took to the stage, all the tables on the lower level of the theatre were occupied. It had been set out in unreserved cabaret style with a dance area in front of the stage and, by the third number when the vocalist Natty Bo (Europe’s retro king) took to the stage, this was full and remained so for the rest of the evening.

The orchestra itself consisted of 7 members, 3 of whom formed the excellent brass section, an obviously intrinsic part of the Yiddish Twist sound. Added to this was a bass and lead guitarist, drummer and keyboard player plus the exceedingly dapper Natty Bo all contributing to the lively and energetic performance that stirred the audience to dance."

Swansea Theatre Review



"It is always the seam on your trousers that attracts the most dirt," said Alf Wax, the great Whitechapel tailor, and back in 1950s London the same was undoubtedly true for music.

It was the seam of the big band and rock'n'roll eras that produced what sounds now like the dirtiest, most deliriously danceable music of all - that delirious mix of classic Yiddish songs, West Indian Calypso, mambo, surf guitar and English beat rhythms that they called 'der shvitz'. When years later it crossed the Atlantic in diluted form as 'the twist' its roots were forgotten, and remained so, with the exception of a select few in the know who recognise Willy Bergman, its founder and greatest bandleader, as the lost hero of the sex n drugs British music revolution.

The Yiddish Twist Orchestra, an allstar band under the guidance of twistneck guitarist Ben Mandelson (3 Mustaphas 3, Triaboliques) and David Bitelli (Elton John, Negrocan, Richard Thompson) – featuring Europe’s retro king Natty Bo on vocals (Ska Cubano, Top Cats) and sizzling Latin trombone player Paul Taylor (Snowboy, Roberto Pla) - pays homage to the genius and paranoia of Bergman, the anonymous beatnik funkateer who got the slums - and salons - on both sides of the water dancing to that pounding Yiddish beat.

====== Stop Press ! March 2013 =====

After a sold-out ten date debut UK tour in February 2013 with Making Tracks, YTO went into the legendary Pool Studios, Miloco with esteemed live recording wizard Roger Bechirian (of the 3 mics drum recording technique no less) and producers Lemez and Fridel (Oi Va Voi), coming out with 14 live tracks.

The album is being mixed in April 2013 and will be out in autumn 2013.

Get ready for a surprise!