Vilner's Hanukkah Jazz

Bruce Von Stiers

I've reviewed a couple of albums by Eyal Vilner. He fronts a band called the Eyal Vilner Big Band. They incorporate Big Band era styling into their music. Hence the name.

A few months ago, Eyal and his band released a new album. It is an EP titled Hanukkah. It features some different arrangements of traditional holiday songs.

On the album Eyal plays the alto sax, clarinet and shofar along with composing and arranging the music. Jay Rattman played the alto, clarinet and flute. Bill Todd also played the alto, clarinet and flute. Dan Pearson was on tenor, clarinet and flute. Eden Bareket played the baritone and bass clarinet. Bryan Davis played the trumpet as did Jim Seeley and Stuart Mark. Matt Musselman and Becca Patterson played the trombone while Max Seigel played the bass trombone. Jack Glottman was on piano, George Delancey was on bass and Eran Fink played the drums. Other musicians on the album were Evan Arntzen on tenor and clarinet, Itai Kriss on flute and Tamar Korn, Marina DaSilva and Vanessa Perea doing vocals.

The album begins with Prelude, which is a short, almost orchestral piece.

Then it is on to Maoz Tzur. This song is a big band rendition of a song that is usually sung after lighting of the holiday candles at Hanukkah. It has some cool big band sax and clarinet t it.

Sevivon is also known as the Dreidel Song. In his rendition of this classic tune, Eyal infused it with Brazilian samba styling. Very cool flute and drum music weave their way through the song.

Bringing things back to the Roaring 20's and the time of flappers is a smile effecting arrangement of Oh Hanukkah. This is the only song on the album with vocals. And those vocals are terrific.

Mi Yemalel is the final song on the CD version of the album. It has an interesting, almost haunting horn sound at first, followed by a dramatic, somewhat dark bit. Then things lighten up with fantastic flute and other woodwind instruments.

There is a bonus track on the digital version of the album. It is titled These Candles.

I've enjoyed the albums of the Eyal Vilner Band. Eyal does a great job coming up with new arrangements to classic Big Band songs. And his interpretations of classic Jewish holiday songs on this new album are fantastic. Hanukkah would be a great addition for a holiday music collection, especially if you are into the Big Band era sound.

You can hear samples from Hanukkah on Eyal's web site. You can also get a digital download of the album from there as well. The site is

Eyal also has a Facebook band page at


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© 2018 Bruce E Von Stiers