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Ljova and the Kontraband's debut album, released in 2008.

"The music is hard to categorize; you wouldn't call it classical, but it has classical elements (or soundtrack-like elements, for several pieces here are drawn from film soundtracks)... Perhaps the best way to imagine the music is to think about what Astor Piazzolla would have done if he had come from Eastern Europe. The title "Mnemosyne" refers to the feminine embodiment of memory in Greek mythology, and the album seems to set itself the task of weaving slender threads of musical memory -- tango, klezmer, polka, salon music, film music, chamber music, gypsy music, and jazz -- into a structure rigorous enough to hold them all. It succeeds, and it's lovely. "
--James Manheim, All Music Guide


released September 28, 2008

Ljova, viola and famiola
Inna Barmash, vocal
Patrick Farrell, accordion
Mike Savino, bass
Mathias Kunzli, percussion

Frank London, trumpet & flugelhorn
William Schimmel, accordion
Uli Geissendoerfer, piano
Alon Yavnai, piano
Marcus Rojas, tuba

Peter Karl

Anibal Kerpel
Alex Kharlamov
James Sizemore

Steven Berson



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Ljova and the Kontraband New York, New York

LJOVA AND THE KONTRABAND -- is chamber-jam music for the "remix generation". As if by alchemy, Eastern-European and Gypsy melodies, Latin rhythms, Jazz-inspired improvisations, and deeply rooted Classical forms are given new meanings in original compositions that fearlessly forge a new direction, with a nostalgic gaze towards the past. ... more


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Track Name: Mnemosyne - featuring Inna Barmash & Frank London
lyrics by Trumbull Stickney (c. 1902)

It's autumn in the country I remember.

How warm a wind blew here about the ways!
And shadows on the hillside lay to slumber
During the long sun-sweetened summer-days.

It's cold abroad the country I remember.

The swallows veering skimmed the golden grain
At midday with a wing aslant and limber;
And yellow cattle browsed upon the plain.

It's empty down the country I remember.

I had a sister lovely in my sight:
Her hair was dark, her eyes were very sombre;
We sang together in the woods at night.

It's lonely in the country I remember.

The babble of our children fills my ears,
And on our hearth I stare the perished ember
To flames that show all starry thro' my tears.

It's dark about the country I remember.

There are the mountains where I lived. The path
Is slushed with cattle-tracks and fallen timber,
The stumps are twisted by the tempests' wrath.

But that I knew these places are my own,
I'd ask how came such wretchedness to cumber
The earth, and I to people it alone.

It rains across the country I remember.
Track Name: Koyl - feat. Inna Barmash & Frank London
1 --- Oy a koyl, di fayerdike koyl,
Aza koyl kon dem menchn dershisn,
Nor ver se hot dikh fun mir opgeredt
Far an ander meydele tzu vern a khosn

2. --- Oy du bist shoyn a khosn gevorn
Se zol dir zayn mit mazl un mit glik
Nor ikh bin dokh nokh keyn kale nit gevorn
Oy, umkern vestu zikh, oy, tzu mir kerik

3. --- Shpatzirn zaynen mir beyde gegangen
Der shlakh iz geven far undz shmol
Nor ver se hot dikh fun mir opgeredt,
Arayn zol er in dem vistn gospitol

A bullet, a burning fiery bullet
Such a bullet can shoot a person
Like the one who talked you into
Becoming another girl’s groom

You’re already a groom
May it be with luck and good fortune
But I am still not a bride
You’ll come back to me, yes, to me

We went walking
The road was too narrow
But whoever talked you out of me
Should go into a desolate hospital
Track Name: Gone Crazy - feat. Inna Barmash, Alon Yavnai & Marcus Rojas
text by Ljova

Call my attorney
I've got a case
I've lost my heart
So it says on my face

Call the policeman
There's been a theft
I'd offer a reward,
But there's just nothing left, oh,

Call my psychiatrist, too!
For I've gone crazy, crazy, crazy for you
crazy, crazy, crazy for you
crazy, crazy, crazy in love with you.

Call the musicians
Give them a ring
There's not much time
So they better start practicing

Call all the chefs
And all the cooks
Too many guests
Most of them crooks

Call, please, my rabbi, too
For I've gone crazy, crazy, crazy for you
crazy, crazy, crazy for you
crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy, crazy in love with you.