Klezmatics / Jews with Horns

Album cover: But for the typographic ugliness of the words 'THE KLEZMATICS' this would be a VERY interesting cover.

Jews with Horns

Xenophile Records, 1995
43 Beaver Brook Rd.
Danbury, CT 06810
(203) 730-0333 / (800) 468-6644

These folks are scary good. This is the band that made me sit up and notice that klezmer was changing, becoming something of this day and age. Periodically, as on the stunningly beautiful Romanian Fantasy, or even on the more straightforward bulgars that follow, the band reminds the listener that they know from traditional klez--how to play it, and how to give it life. But starting off the album with the rocking "Man in a Hat" (Canada's wonderful Moxy Früvous join in on this one!) the Klezmatics push and redefine Klez, as well.

What's also interesting is how much this is absolutely, unequivocably a klezmer album, as opposed to, say, band member Frank London's soundtrack for the movie, The Shvitz, which is klez-based, but, to my ears, no longer klez. Another thing I like is how they keep switching off with the Flying Bulgars of Toronto as "coolest, beyond traditional klezmer band." The winner? Well, for now, this takes the Flying Bulgar's "Agada" and raises the ante, just as Agada built on "Rhythm + Jews." But either band in concert is phenomenal. [Whew! As I write this, their "Doina" on this new album is sending shivers up my spine. It's well, maybe a meta-doina? Doina as Nicky Hopkins might have played it if he had the patience to play slow and let the silence dance with the notes? And then, suddenly, with a shout, "Freyt Aykh, Yidlekh," [Get Happy, Jews] it's back to more traditional sounds for a bit.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 6/28/95

Personnel, this recording

David Krakauer: clarinet, bass clarinet, vocals
David Licht: drums
Frank London: trumpet, cornet, alto horn, piano, organ, vocals
Paul Morrissett: bass, vocals
Lorin Sklamberg: lead vocals, accordion, piano
Alicia Svigals: violin, vocals

Special Guest:
Matt Darriau: alto sax, background vocals


  1. Man in a Hat (words: David Lindsay; music: traditional/Klezmatics) 2:59
  2. Fisherlid (words: Aliza Greenblatt; music: traditional/London) 8:30
  3. Khsidim Tants (Hassidic dance) (traditional, arranged by Svigals with Krakauer, London, Mandelson) 4:16
  4. Simkhes-Toyre (words: Mark Warshawsky; music: Warshawsky/London) 2:28
  5. Romanian Fantasy (traditional: Svigals with Sklamberg, Krakauer) 4:37
  6. Bulgars/The Kiss (traditional, London, Klezmatics) 6:51
    Inspired by an ACT UP kiss-in in New York
  7. Nign (Sklamberg) 3:30
    Wordless song of ecstasy in the Hassidic style
  8. Honga (traditional, London) 3:18
  9. In Kamf (David Edelstadt, Klezmatics) 3:25
    One of the most popular Yiddish labor songs, written in America in 1889
  10. Doyna (London; Clarinet improsation: Krakauer) 2:20
  11. Freyt Aykh, Yidlekh(Get Happy, Jews) (traditional / London, Klezmatics) 4:58
  12. Kale Bazetsn (Svigals) 1:52
    The Seating of the Bride
  13. Keyser Tartar-Tants (traditional / Klezmatics) 6:27
    Hot Tartar dance
  14. Es Vilt Zikh Mir Zen (poem: Celia Dropkin; music: London) 2:17
    Celia Dropkin (1888 - 1956), pioneer of the Yiddish in zikh (introspective) poetry movement.
  15. Overture (London) 1:52
    with Matt Darriau: alto sax

But, hey, why take my word for it:

From: MelnickmATaol.com
Date: Sat, 17 Jun 1995
Subject: Klezmatics

The Klezmatics' CD "Jews With Horns" is wonderful. I don't know if it's officially released yet, but the group was selling it at a recent concert I attended at S.U.N.Y. Purchase. Once again, The Klezmatics demonstrate their skill at writing creative klezmer melodies without losing that feeling of homage to the roots of it all.

Other reviews:

Review of Jews with Horns, San Francisco Bay Guardian

Review of Jews with Horns release party, NYC, 8/95, for Music News of the World online

If you like the Klezmatics (what a question!), you will probably also want to check out Klezmer 1993--NYC (Knitting Factory Works, 1993). Subtitled, "the tradition continues on the lower east side," this is one of the most marvellous, high energy, klezmer and beyond albums I have ever heard. Needless to say, the Klezmatics, and members of the band in various other configurations, form the core of the festival. Ari Bob sez, "check it out."

The Klezmatics' first two albums were on the German label, Piranha. Both are now distributed in the United States by Rounder Records (actually, Rounder distributing Flying Fish).

A nice picture of the band on a reasonable, grey cover Shvaygn=Toyt
Piranha Musik GmbH, 1988
Carmerstrasse 11, D-1000 Berlin 12

As close to traditional as the Klezmatics came. But the first or second recording of "Alle Brider/Alle Shvester" I ever heard, and some very fun licks with Les Miserables Brass Band, including a song called "Schneider-Zwiefacher" that I later heard in another version on a recording by a marching band from what was then Yugoslavia. Lovely.

The band, see through one of those wide angle lenses. A signal that the contents are changing! Rhythm+Jews
Flying Fish, (now dist. by Rounder), FLY 591, 1992

From my "Bay Area KlezReport, June 1992:

The new release from the Klezmatics, (Rhythm+Jews) on Germany's Piranha label, out for several months somewhere, and only now reaching Bay Area is by far the most intriguing and musically wonderful album I have heard this year. I don't know how to get copies (other than writing to Germany), or hoping that local stores keep it in stock, but this is "next generation klez." I love it. Play it side by side with the more experimental new release by the Bay Area's own New Klezmer Trio (Masks and Faces). These bands represent a new, and very exciting fusion of Klez with world music. To me, it's the next step in reclaiming Klezmer music--moving forward with the tradition and integrating the music with today's variety of sounds and rhythms.

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