For some reason, this album popped into my mind today. That isn't to say that it doesn't show up there from time to time, along with assorted otherwise bygone detritus, but the sight of trays and trays of bagels set up in the social hall of our synagogue -- also my son's Hebrew school -- definitely brought it to the forefront.
My father, a Slovak by birth, loved Latin music and had quite a collection of records, from Celia Cruz to Xavier Cugat. He also enjoyed traditional Jewish liturgical music, and had several recordings by Jan Peerce. Klezmer was another love -- as it is mine -- although it wasn't known to the general population to the extent that it is today. And then there were the less traditional, but still Jewish-influenced artists -- such as The Barry Sisters.
The album I will always remember him most by, though, is Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio, as well as the followup album, More Bagels and Bongos by the Irving Fields Trio. Irving Fields, whose surname, I had surmised, was anglicized from the German "Feld," fused Latin and Jewish tunes and rhythms in an unusual, but very listenable way. His album was frequently played on my father's beloved "Wictrola," which he treated with kid gloves and guarded like "Dragula der Wampir" guarded his castle. (He treated his cameras -- a Leica still and a Bolex 8mm with turret lenses -- with the same veneration.)
So, inspired by this sudden memory upon me, I decided to google Irving Fields, and learned that his album had been re-released back in 2005 and, as these things often go, has gained a whole new audience. It turns out that his name was not originally Irving Feld, but Isadore Schwartz. I guess he liked the sound of Irving Fields better than he liked the sound of Irving Black, and I guess I have to agree -- even though anything with "Irving" hardly sounds assimilated. But assimilation wasn't his focus, and for that I am grateful, if not only for his music but for the memories his albums evoke.
You can read about Irving Fields here, should you be so intrigued.