Rav Yehuda Gets His Groove On


“Said Rav Yehuda: Even silence has its rules,” announces spoken word poet Jake Marmer at the start of his new album, Hermeneutic Stomp.

Between his rhythmic poem-spitting and the frantic, tight, dazzling grooves of his backing band, Marmer’s voice becomes one instrument in a massive silence-smashing symphony. The poet is by far the youngest and newest member of the ensemble, an ensemble that includes Frank London of The Klezmatics, and Greg Wall, one of the ruling saxophonists of New York’s avant-garde jazz scene (and a practicing rabbi). But Stomp is nothing if not accessible, with pop riffs, quick, fun textures, and wise, witty one-liners sprinkled throughout the lyrics.

One track, “Klezmer Bulldog,” praises the title pooch as a dumb but earnest creature, and imagines it performing a traditional dance to the rapid, churning, sloppily fast-moving Jewish ethnic music: “Wobbling is flirtatious, drool affectionate—this is not about good looks, baby!”

Other pieces, like “The Laws of Dream-Cooking” and “Bathhouse of Dreams,” sample characters and ideas from the Talmud, repositioning them in shtetl stories or Russian bathhouses in Brooklyn. Give it a listen here.

Watch “Dream Cooking” and “Bath House of Dreams”

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