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Khevre in joyous reunion; fundraiser for Leukemia Research

If it's Sunday night, I must be doing something with Hankus Netsky. Last Sunday night we terminated a tenuous jam at the end of our annual Sukkoth party to catch Hankus and his jazz band. It was a wonderful, heimish concert (nothing much to do with klezmer, until the encore, when Hankus even went out into the audience and handed his clarinet to Ben Pasamaniuk, while Hankus went back to the piano).

band photoTonight was a fundraiser a the Lily Pad, a tiny hole-in-the-wall gallery-by-day / performance-space-by-night in Inman Square, Cambridge, MA. Last year the space was known as "Zeitgeit." It's across the street from the "S & S" deli (think, "essn, essn!"), so it's as Jewish a performance space as it gets here in Boston.

Carmen Staaf organized the event, with some lovely jazz opening with the Esperanza Spalding Duo (Esperanza and Carmen). But the excitement to the sold out (okay, that makes it about 70 people) crowd was the Khevre reunion. Since part of the band moved to NYC a couple of years ago, concerts have been few and far between. Tonight proved that the band still makes magical music together. What was even more exciting is that the music has changed radically—nobody plays as they did two years ago. The new sound is jazzier and harder and louder—but if anything, the band is tighter than ever before. Dana Sandler (who is hopefully heading off to medical school next year) sang with greater assurance than I remember, and this despite some serious mike problems. Jorge sounds entirely different on bass, and it's all good. Since we always thought he was special as a bass player, this is pretty exciting. Austin McMann (Dana's fiance) did well on drums, although I miss Richie Barshay, now of the Klezmatics (but, consider, now I miss David Licht when I listen to the Klezmatics, much as I love Richie's playing. It's all weirdly circular.) Winograd has grown tremendously as a clarinet player, as have Carmen and Eylem.

The new version of "Reyzele" is simply radical. Full. That's the song where Judy and I, watching Jorge and Michael having fun, turned to each other, watching Jorge's fingers, and said, simultaneously, "Jorge!"

The band kicks through a short (45 minutes? Half an hour?) set of their favorites, including a nicely redone "Oyfn Sheydveg," the title track from their excellent album. This, too, is fuller, less gentle, and ends with an almost rock 'n' roll intensity.

The evening ends with a klezmer jam, including Hankus Netsky, who taught most of these folks when they were at the New England Conservatory not so longer ago, and more friends (notably, Winograd's frequent music partner, trombonist Dan Blacksberg).

It was just wonderful music, in a lovely, if overly small setting. The community was great, featuring younger people of the same age as the band members, up to middle aged folks like myself and older. There isn't a lot of music that can pull such a diverse crowd together so pleasurably.

As I mentioned, the event was a fundraiser organized by Carmen Staff for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The event may be over, but the fundraiser is still with us. You can still contribute! Join Judy and I and help cure this disease.