Klezmer's true believers keep rolling | Bleader

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Klezmer's true believers keep rolling

Posted By on 02.23.12 at 03:31 PM

  • Klezmatics
Last year New York's Klezmatics released a double CD called Live at Town Hall on their own Klezmatics Disc label, an in-concert overview of a career that at the time was 25 years long. Back in 1986, when the band played its first gig, klezmer was largely forgotten, though in the 70s people like Andy Statman and the Klezmer Conservatory Band had passionately fought its extinction. Thanks to the Klezmatics' efforts to modernize the form, it re-emerged as a vital tradition that's proved itself elastic enough to accommodate stylistic fusions and relatively contemporary iterations, like the work of DJ Socalled. Since the 90s, the likes of Don Byron, Brave Old World, Naftule's Dream, Joel Rubin, and Davka have stoked klezmer's fires, helping give it an appeal more widespread than at any time in its history (the music arrived in the U.S. from the shtetls of eastern Europe in the 1920s).

I haven't been too fond of some of the Klezmatics' more recent experiments, like creating settings for the lyrics of Woody Guthrie on Wonder Wheel (2006) or dabbling in black gospel on Brother Moses Smote the Water (2004)—and some of that material drags down this album. Otherwise, though, it's hard to find fault here. The recording features a slew of guests, including past members like clarinetists David Krakauer and Margot Leverett. The selections cover the band's entire history and the performances are especially energetic, pushing and pulling the genre's boundaries with a mix of reverence and artistic imperative. The Klezmatics play the Old Town School of Folk Music at 4 PM on Sunday.

Below you can listen to a track from the album, written by trumpeter and Klezmatics cofounder Frank London.

Klezmatics, "Moroccan Game"

Today's playlist:

Team Hegdal, Team Hegdal Vol. 1 (Øra)
Kassin, Michiko e Hatchin Soundtrack, Chapter 2 (Speedstar)
Iggy & the Stooges, Raw Power (Columbia/Legacy)
Rick Rizzo and Tara Key, Double Star (Thrill Jockey)
Jon Eberson Trio, Bring It On (Jazzaway)

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