Kozak-Trepak by Ukrainska Orchestra Pawla Humeniuka
A fiddle masterpiece by a master fiddler.
Pawlo Humeniuk was born ca. 1884 in Pidvolochys’k, in the Ukraine, immigrated to the United States around 1902, and began recording for Okeh records in late 1925. Legend has it that Humeniuk was in the store of Myron Surmach, a sheet music and record retailer, when an Okeh records representative came in to query Surmach on whether he knew of anyone who could play “village music,” whereupon Surmach immediately introduced Humeniuk. After several sides for Okeh, Humeniuk and his group of musicians (most of whom are anonymous, still) moved to Columbia Records for a stint that lasted about 10 years, until 1936. He made a few more records in 1940 and his career on records was over. Humeniuk died in 1965, leaving an amazing legacy of early Ukrainian folk music.
Today’s track is a combination of a kozachok (or kozak) and a trepak. The kozachok is derived from the word “Cossack” – and both dances are classically in 2/4 time. In other words, they can be raucous, uptempo numbers for social dancing! Besides Humeniuk’s outstanding fiddling, what makes this track particularly interesting is the addition of the cymbalom, a hammered dulcimer (played by one Ivan Lysechko, the only other known player besides Humeniuk on these sessions).
For more Humeniuk, check out Arhoolie’s King of the Ukrainian Fiddlers.
And a special thanks to Ian Nagoski, for his nice write-up on Excavated Shellac included in his article Pearl Diving, in the latest Arthur Magazine. Sadly, it looks like Arthur is hurting financially like so many others – which is not a good thing, as it has consistently been an entertaining and informative magazine. You can download a .pdf of the issue (and donate to the cause) on their website.
Issue Number: 27104-F
Matrix Number: 108160 (2-A-5)