For a band which makes the bold claim to being the (one and only) Amsterdam Klezmer Band, the outfit has rarely been about straight-up, unadulterated klezmer. While the core remains so, AKB has always served its musical cocktail with a dash of something else – be it Balkan, reggae or hip-hop.
In Fortuna all of the tracks are original, and for the first time front-man Job Chajes tries his hand at composing in English, offering up three English-language tracks, most notably After the Storm, where long-time hip-hop aficionado, Chajes raps about spreading global karma while “smoking ganja” and dissing “sucker DJs” and “roughin’ reggae in a Netherlands style” to a swaggering, joyously off-kilter reggae rhythm — jerky, forward-lurching.
Most of AKB’s sixteen albums have at least one infectious dance track, and this one is Shabash, an arrangement on a Romanian song by Gabi Luncă, with an original text by AKB’s man from Odessa, Alec Kopyt, sung in boozy, punch drunk Russian, reeling from one line to the next . A poetic ode to laziness, Kopyt sings (I translate): “Whatever you say – whether you praise me or curse me – even if you take all my money, I am at the beach.”