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Andy Statman blows Ashkenaz away

There is so much more I could write about the Ashkenaz festival that ended on Monday night. Time is already intervening. But I can let other impressions pass except for this: Andy Statman at the finale. I tend to avoid Statman when he is playing with his trio because, brilliant as he is, he still manages to sound noodly and phoning it in—to me, at least.

But this was different. Usual drummer—Larry Eagle—an excellent drummer, even better. But the bass part was played by Mark Rubin of the Bad Livers, Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars, the "Other Europeans" project, and anywhere else that the bass gods are needed. My God it was awesome. The two of them, Rubin and Statman, were trading runs and pushing each other in some insane bluegrass klezmer apocalypse. Statman was on his usual clarinet and mandolin. At one point, towards the end of a 45 minute set, Eagle left his drum kit and began drumming along the bottom of Rubin's bass while Rubin used his fingering to play with Eagle's drumming and still managed to keep a counter-rhythm going. Fucking unbelievable. This is the of those lifetime concert moments. And Statman? Statman blew and plucked like his life depended on it. It felt like the two of them (Statman and Rubin) were just in their own world and determined to make a mark and then couldn't stop.

Awesome, in the original meaning.

Rubin notes, in private email, that he and Andy practiced hard to get that good together, but also notes that they remain excited. If this leads to a tour—Statman, Rubin, and Eagle—I could be tempted play groupie and tag along night after night.

As for Ashkenaz? The next one is due in 2010. Sign up for the email list at www.ashkenazfestival.com or check out the Ashkenaz Foundation and Festival group on Facebook.