January 22, 2018

Winograd klezmer dance set from 2008

From Michael Winograd:

Its always worth filming!! Inna Barmash-Zhurbin came across this dance set she filmed (I'm guessing Lev 'Ljova' was holding the camera?) from my 2008 "Bessarabian Hop" CD launch... amazing!!!

Ezekiel's Wheels, Fisher Lid, Live

Ezekiel's Wheels Klezmer Band #rehearsing our arrangement of Fisher Lid. Enjoy!

#rehearsaltake of Fisherlid. We use the melody from The Klezmatics' setting of Aliza Greenblatt's words, combine it with a tune from the Amsterdam Klezmer Band and a whole lot of Ezekiel's Wheels Klezmer Band magic. Enjoy! (And follow/like the page to stay up to date on the new recording as we take it from rehearsals into the studio. Lots more to come!)

December 26, 2017

Isak Loberan klezmer books

From Guenther Schoeller, posting to the Jewish Music mailing list, following a discussion on the availability of the much-requested Isak Loberan klezmer books:

I promised to make a website where you can get more information about Loberans klezmer books and the CD. And where you can order. Here is the URL:

May 3, 2017

Video: Klezmer in MA's Pioneer Valley

From flautist extraordinaire, Adrianne Greenbaum, on the Jewish-Music list:

A student of mine in the Mount Holyoke College klezmer band just finished this

April 16, 2017

Fleytmuzik, 26-Apr-2017, NYC

Adriane Greenbaum is the most amazing flute player I know. Pete Rushefsky posted this video on facebook: "Some of the amazing Edward Alpern's hi-def footage of Fleytmuzik's show at Museum at Eldridge Street this past Sunday. Ed's making a documentary film about our Poyln project called and contributions are welcome. Congrats to Adrianne Greenbaum on putting the musical parts of this wide-ranging project together."

January 19, 2017

The Lost Vault of Klezmer

This was posted last month, but it's a great story involving Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin. Enjoy!

The Lost Vault of Klezmer

Recently, after almost a decade of sleuthing, a rogue British hobbyist and one of the greatest living klezmer musicians uncovered a lost trove of vinyl records from the earliest days of the Jewish music industry. This week, we follow in their footsteps and revise musical history. We talk to the discoverers of klezmer's "lost vault", Michael Aylward and Joel Rubin, and we take a look at how the American working class fell out of love with opera. Plus, we indulge in some happy memories of holiday music.

December 22, 2016

Joel Rubin on "Good Reason" podcast

From Joel Rubin:

"Here's a podcast of the Dec. 13 broadcast of "With Good Reason" radio, which interviewed me in the first segment on the anthology Chekhov's Band: Eastern European Klezmer Music 1908-1913, and the recent CD with Veretski Pass, Poyln: A Gilgul:

November 28, 2016

Jewish music fans in NYC: Open House tonight

The return of the Tuesday night Workmen's Circle klezmer workshop in NYC! Free open house tonight from 7-9 pm! Led by internationally acclaimed klezmer and Yiddish performer and educator Cantor Jeff Warschauer. Please forward and let everyone know! Come and bring your friends, relatives, anyone who likes to play or sing Jewish music! The free open house will be followed by paid sessions on subsequent Tuesday evenings: 12/6, 12/13 and 12/20 $30/session or $25/session for Workmen's Circle members. At the Workmen's Circle, 247 West 37 Street, Floor 5, New York, NY 10018 For more info: 347 623-4228

August 29, 2016

Catching up with five "must listen" new releases

I am once again looking for a next gig (if you know someone in the Boston area who needs a cloud computing consultant/Project Manager/Scrum Master, do contact meAshkenaz Festival in a few days:

cd coverThis is one of the most interesting and successful "re-mix" efforts I've heard. A group of musicians in Germany has pulled archival recordings and integrated into their covers. The material is wonderful and nicely extends our repertoire, and encourages more to consult the same sources: Waks / Yiddish Voices, 2015. Highly recommended.

cd coverI always look forward to concerts and recordings by klezmer flautist Adrianne Greenbaum. This new one is especially noteworthy as it brings a klezmer family repertoire back to life: Fleytmuzik / Poyln, 2016

cd coverRecordings like this remind us why we miss the late Franka Lampe (and how wonderful it is that her partner on this recording, Fabian Schnedler, is just hitting his stride—see him next weekend with Semer Ensemble in Ashkenaz!). In this case, the duo mine field recordings amongst Jewish criminals (an obvious place to look for those who know of the reputation of klezmorim back in the day). Check out Schikker Wi Lot / Ganovim-Lider, 2016 and enjoy.

cd coverLocal (to me, here in Boston) avant-garde-istas return to the recording world after an absence of several years to remind us all why we miss them and how great it is to hear new material: Naftule's Dream / Blood, 2016. Sure to bring a smile to your ears.

cd coverIf there is a better Jewish band actively creating new traditional klezmer, I don't know of them. In this new recording, they include Joel Rubin, an equally acclaimed klezmer revival pioneer and professor. Just marvellous. Polish rural folk traditions klezmerified. Veretski Pass w/Joel Rubin / Poyln, 2015. Buy a few copies—you'll be handing them out to friends and family.

August 16, 2016

Video: Pressberger Klezmer Band


August 12, 2016

Video: Klezfactor, May 30, 2016

I think this was recorded at Klezfactor

The "KlezFactor Trio" (Mike Anklewicz - cl, Brian Katz - gtr, Jim Sexton - bass) had a fan of our performance at Toronto's Jewish Music Week who posted some videos of our performance on May 30, 2016. Here's a medley of Mayn Tayere Odessa and a couple of Nigunim from the Beregovski Collection.

July 24, 2016

Alan Ginsberg and the Klezmatics (Berlin, 1993)

Thank you Alicia Svigals for linking to this:

Video: Schvitsy Simcha Band - Fiddle Tunes 2016

From Alicia Svigals:

Klezmer Band coached by Alicia Svigals & Patrick Farrell play the Band Lab concert on Saturday JULY 9 2016 - Fiddle Tunes Festival - Port Townsend WA. Tunes: Broyges Tants, Patch Tants, Lebedik Freylakh, Kishinever Bulgar

July 13, 2016

Jewish Culture Festival showcases revival in Krakow

From my favorite San Francisco Jewish weekly:

Jewish Culture Festival showcases revival in Krakow, by liz harris, Thursday, July 7, 2016, j weekly

"Kazimierz, once the center of Jewish life in Krakow, Poland, has reclaimed its mantle. And nothing better tells the story -- or helped catalyze the revival of this historic district -- than the popular Jewish Culture Festival.

"Held this year from June 25 to July 3, the 26th annual festival brought an estimated 12,000 people to the streets of Krakow for nine days of workshops, concerts, panel discussions, dances, tours and more."[more]

How Alicia Svigals Helped Me Go Public With My Klezmer Obsession

Catching up with ages of posts from hither and yon. This is a great place to start:

How Alicia Svigals Helped Me Go Public With My Klezmer Obsession, Laura E. Adkins, The Forward, July 13, 2016

"… Perhaps it was the advertisement's additional promise that "whiskey and rugelach will be served" that hooked me. But more likely, it was the hope of overcoming my lingering fear of fully embracing the less easily justified aspects of Jewish life.…" [more]

June 5, 2016

Review: David Krakauer's Ancestral Groove / Checkpoint (2016)

krakauer passport photo-ish.'To the extent that I have been tweeting the last couple of months, it has been to reflect how blown away I am by the new (to the US--released in Europe 2014) David Krakauer CD. This is the sort of CD that makes me celebrate the klezmer revival: entirely new music built on not just Eastern European roots, but also infused with jazz, funk, hip hop, and even modern classical traditions. This is what originality sounds like, but only when originality is accessible, approachable, and danceable. Let me invite you to check out David Krakauer's Ancestral Groove / Checkpoint. Available wherever good music is purchased or downloaded, or via David Krakauer's website.

May 21, 2016

new Alpen CD - needs kickstarter help

Like me, did you find 2012's debut Alpen Klezmer CD the most fun you'd heard in European klezmer in ages? A sort of marriage between Bavarian dance music and klezmer featuring vocalist Andrea Pancur and accordionist Ilya Shneyveys, it rocked (and still does). A host of klezmer veterans joined that effort (and are lined up for the new one) ranging from Lorin Sklamberg to Alan Bern, Joel Rubin, etc., etc., etc. If so, you're going to want to join me in helping the band record their new CD:

You have nothing to lose but ennui, boredom, and anomie. This is klezmer that rocks!

Here's what Andrea sent me:

Liebe Freunde und Freundinnen der handgemachten Musik,

es ist wieder so weit: ich bringe eine neue CD heraus. Und weil das alles immer so unsagbar viel kostet, nutze ich die Möglichkeit des Crowdfunding, was auf deutsch auch sehr hübsch klingt, nämlich „Schwarmfinanzierung".

Was passiert da genau? Ihr könnt diesem Link folgen, und dann vorab eine CD und viele andere ganz tolle Dinge bestellen, u.a. ein von Grammy-Gewinner und begnadetem Koch Lorin Sklamberg zusammengestelltes und gekochtes Abendessen oder eine Unterrichtsstunde bei musikalischem Mastermind Alan Bern höchstpersönlich. Schaut einfach auf die Seite, sucht euch das Passende aus und sehr gerne könnt ihr auch vielen, vielen anderen Menschen von ALPEN KLEZMER: ZUM MEER! erzählen.

Ich kann euch versprechen, ihr werdet es nicht bereuen, denn auf der CD versammeln sich wieder die musikalischen Meister der Klezmerwelt mit den Meistern der bayrischen Musikwelt und spielen Musik, die unter die Haut geht und die Füße zucken läßt: Alpen Klezmer vom Feinsten!

Hier nochmal der Link:

Herzlichen Dank für eure Unterstützung! Andrea

May 8, 2016

Yidstock, at the NYBC, Amherst, MA, July 14-17, is nigh!

The Yiddish Book Center's annual program has gradually become a sort of "Eastern European Jewish Music AllStars" program, with lectures, workshops on dance and playing music and singing, as well as a host of great concerts. You won't actually hear much "new Yiddish music," but you will hear an awful lot of the best, performed by the best veterans around. This year, the UK's Polina and Merlin Shepherd are brought into the mix, which means even more great music. Paul Shapiro will bring back his delightful "Brisket 'n' Ribs Revue," one of my favorite excursions into the delightful world of Jewish/Black lyrics and music from the earlier part of the last century. Essen! It will all end in a mammoth AllStars concert honoring Shalom Aleichem's 100th yahrzeit.

Yidstock Logo 2013Yidstock 2016: The Festival of New Yiddish Music, Thu July 14, 2016 - Sun July 17, 2016

YIDSTOCK 2016 will bring the best in klezmer and new Yiddish music to the stage at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts. Don't miss out on what promises to be a great festival of music and related events.

Festival info from the Yiddish Book Center website

March 22, 2016

"The Essentials of Klezmer Banjo," by Pete Rushefsky

The most frequently requested out of print music book has to be Pete Rushefsky's "Essentials of Klezmer Banjo." It's still essential, and Pete has graciously scanned it and made it available for free download as a PDF. Now available.

The Essentials of Klezmer 5-String Banjo

December 26, 2015

Best Klezmer recordings of 2015

Yeah, you would expect the KlezmerShack to have already done this, but, as usual, Bert Stratton has scooped us:


My desk is piled high with free CDs: Ezekiel's Wheels, Golem, Vulfpeck, Winograd, all kinds of Dutch and Polish bands, and the old standbys like Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Klezmatics.... [more]

December 1, 2015

Alicia Svigals on cover of "Fiddler" magazine

"In the world of klezmer music, Alicia Svigals is a household name. Ever since her band The Klezmatics came on the scene in 1986 with its unique take on traditional klezmer music (she remained a member until 2002), Alicia has been the go-to person for klezmer fiddle."

Alicia Svigals: A New Role, by Matt Merta, Fiddler Magazine, 2015-11-20

"Yerushe" crowd-funding project nears deadline

Here is a neat project from Eléonore Biezunski in Paris:

"Yerushe" is Yiddish for "heritage" or "inheritance". The musical project originates from our discovery of repertoire of little known Yiddish songs and Klezmer music in the folklore archives (Ruth Rubin, Moshe Beregovski, Zusman Kisselgof). Each of these songs is a short story in a great history of lived experiences, of battles fought, of hopes for the future. The album will be published under the prestigious label of the Institut Européen des Musiques Juives (European Institute for Jewish Music), but we still need to produce the audio master.

Check Yerushe: Watch, listen, read about the project by following this THIS LINK.

How can you help? Contribute to our crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo until December 11, 2015. Tell you friends: share the link, forward this project.

November 27, 2015

Seminal "Brave Old World" now on iTunes

Catching up on last week's news from Alan Bern:

After five years of email correspondence with our publisher and slowdown tactics that would astonish a turtle, I'm happy and relieved to say that the three Brave Old World albums on the Pinorrekk label - Beyond the Pale, Blood Oranges and Bless the Fire—are finally available on iTunes to download. To all Brave Old World fans who don't know this music, or who acquired it through somewhat dubious means (ahem...), this is your chance to download groundbreaking, beautiful music. Please share this post, thanks!

June 3, 2015

Ger Mandolin Orchestra, NYC, June 18, 2015

You begin to sense when an event really matters when you realize how many people have forwarded notices to you about it. I've gotten a slew about this one. What I don't understand is why this is being promoted as a klezmer concert—I mean, I assume there will be lots of klezmer, but if I had an assembly of world mandolin masters this good playing anything from kid's songs to the Sun Ra songbook, I'd probably reach out to the broadest possible audience, from bluegrass to acoustic music fans, on out. If you live anywhere that can reach this concert, you will kick yourself if you don't attend:

The Ger Mandolin Orchestra will make its NYC debut on June 18, at Skirball Center NYU, as part of KulturfestNYC. This is a really unique ensemble representing a little-known but quintessential Jewish musical tradition. Sheesh, this was popular entertainment even in this country with dozens of Workmen's Circle-sponsored mandolin orchestras a century ago. Ger Mandolin Orchestra features an amazing all-star cast of musicians from North America and Europe whose specialties include klezmer, Yiddish, bluegrass, jazz, classical, Brazilian music and much more. It is very rare for this group to come together and we're looking forward to sharing this amazing story and our unique music with NY audiences. Best way to get a taste of what they're about is to check this mini-doc about their Toronto show two years ago, or this short AFP news piece from the band's trip to Poland in 2011. Like them on Facebook to keep up with latest news.

May 5, 2015

Music for a Jewish wedding, radio from 2004

Denis Wilen just sent me this link from the Internet Archive: Music of the Klezmer Wedding by Eric Fixler and Craig Harwood Usage Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Topics klezmer, wedding, jewish, yiddish, socalled This is the Oy Mendele! episode from December 2004, when we were still on KALX. It features music historian Craig Harwood and myself walking through the sequence of a traditional Eastern European Jewish wedding, with music of then and now. It's worth listening to just to hear Craig say 'groovin'

May 2, 2015

New website: Klezmer in Seattle

Klezmer Music in and around Seattle & Klezmer Resources

What a great idea! Everything from lists of local bands, where to find the local klezmer jams, where/how to learn more about klezmer, etc.

Appears to be sponsored by the local Seattle, WA klezmer band, Klezmer Chaos.

Spring Fiddle workshops w/Alicia Svigals, NYC

For the ninth annual Make Music New York, we're teaming up with Alicia Svigals, the world's foremost klezmer fiddler, and the Museum of Jewish Heritage- A Living Memorial to the Holocaust to present a spring workshop series for violinists ages 12 and up, culminating in a performance produced by the National Yiddish Theatre and Joe's Pub for KulturfestNYC. More info:

April 3, 2015

From Honk!TX Review, 2015

From Itzik Gottesman, shared on Facebook:

0:00 Danza Azteca Guadalupana 2:30 Mazel Tov Kocktail Hour and Austin Klezmer Bund Orchestra 12:00 Emperor Norton's Stationary Marching Band

January 23, 2015

the return of J. Edgar Klezmer

From Eve Sicular:

My 2009 Sara Ivry interview just re-posted by Tablet Magazine in time for our 2015 sneak preview of the new run for 'J. EDGAR KLEZMER: Songs from My Grandmother's FBI Files' (Feb 6th at The Actors Temple NYC; Feb 12-15 at Centenary Stage Company, Hackettstown NJ). I obtained the declassified documents on Grandma—Dr. Adele Sicular—through a Freedom of Information Act request, and created a piece of musical documentary theater we're now bringing back with Isle of Klezbos & Metropolitan Klezmer bandmates. A few government surveillance revelations have surfaced meanwhile.

December 13, 2014

Happy almost Khanike--more new Jewish music

Ack! It is almost Khanike and I still have stacks of CDs that you should know about in case you have made gift-giving part of your seasonal celebration of light. Okay, let's get short bits up about a few of them, at least.

hand drawn lettering reminiscent of old Yiddish sheet musicFrom the clarinet glissando that opens the first song, first echoing Gershwin, then blasting that thought out of the ears, Benjy Fox-Rosens 2011 EP Tick Tock signalled a major shift in the way we think about Yiddish songs and Mordechai Geburtig's legacy. It is totally new all over again. "Yiddish Art Song" is reborn, in a thoroughly imaginative, beautiful manner. Listen, for instance to "Grine Oygen" (Green Eyes), which quotes from several popular klezmer and yiddish cliches, turning them inside out. I can only conclude by mentioning the title of the final song on the EP: "S'iz Git"—It's Good! You can get a copy of the EP in digital or physical form via BandCamp.

lovely old world drawing--by Ben Katchor?But, I really got you here to talk about the more recent 2014 Fox-Rosen release, Two Worlds, a reflective, sad song cycle comprised of reset songs by Mordechai Gebirtig. From the opening, "When father beats me," you know that this is not a shmaltzy picture of life in the old country. What makes this essential, and I think why I can't stop listening, is how real it is. The picture is so vivid, the music so intense, that I find myself at the end and starting over. Backed by his Yiddish Art Trio bandmates Pat Ferrell on accordion and Michael Winograd on clarinet, with his brother Avi on guitar and Tyshawn Sorey on drums, Benjy Fox-Rosen's voice and bass weave the arrangements into compelling, haunting stories. His music is new. But it is new swirled with traditional Yiddish folk, theatre, and klezmer fragments, recreated to make a vanished community real again, and to tug at our hearts, to make us care about that community and their lives, anew. You can get a copy for those amazing purveyors of wonderful new sounds, Golden Horn Records.

lovely old world drawing--by Ben Katchor?Looking for something smooth, jazzy, uplifting for the holiday? David Chevan's Afro-Semitic Experience has just the thing, Souls on Fire. After several recent releases that focused on Jewish cantorial tradition, this year the band turned back to its roots, presenting songs from Pharaoh Sanders, MyCoy Tyner, Duke Ellington, along with traditional Jewish klezmer, and spirituals such as "Go Down, Moses" and "Avadim Hayinu" (We were slaves), from the Passover seder. Selections also include that gospel cantor, Sister Rosetta Tharpe's "Up above my head I hear music in the air." A perfect accompaniment to quiet evenings around the menorah or even a roaring fire. You can get your copy, digital or otherwise, from

kinda fun, and captures the CD's atmosphere perfectlyIt is the rare holiday season when you can celebrate with a new release by the punk Eastern European rhythms of "Golem." This is one of them, and Tanz is the most fun the band has had in years. A frenzied cross between the Brave Combo, Gogol Bordello, and your neighborhood klezmer band, Golem's songs are pleasantly twisted, the rhythms are propulsive, dance-perfect. There is a lounge music component that keeps us from taking anything too seriously. Whether telling a plaintive story of two sad sacks finding each other and falling in love ("Miskayt"), harking back to the old country and the many changing linguistic contexts of modern life in "My Horse" ("but with my faithful horse, I speak mameloshn") or telling the stories of recent immigrants to the USA from the former USSR (most notably, sadly, on "Poletim," story of a hijacking gone a bit awry), this is a wonderful burst of energy and fun. This, and other fine recordings by the band are available from their website:

old sepia on lovely graphics and excellent typeA surprising amount of wonderful new Jewish music doesn't come from European Jewish traditions. Likewise, some of the most striking new music is old, as in this recreated Sephardic wedding song cycle arranged by Aron Saltiel, Ensemble Saltiel / Boda. There seems to be no comparable cycle in Ashkenazic tradition. Saltiel has combined decades of field research, with singers and musicians familiar with the repertoire, and takes us from a celebration of the first glances, to arranging the engagement, completing the bridal trousseau to the groom presenting a gift on the wedding night. Gathered from former Ottoman lands in the Balkans and Turkey, the melodies, the singing, and the sense of tradition are fantastic. The singing features for individual solos and a powerful Sephardic chorus. The CD is beautifully packaged with notes (including a brief introduction by Dr. Judith Cohen) and images, as well as translations of all of the tunes. This is just wonderful, good-time music, all the more precious for being a rare recording based on a vanishing/vanished tradition. You can get your copy, digital or otherwise, from Golden Horn Records.

quiet black silhouette on bricks. Well-executed typeI saved my favorite among favorites for last. César Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky have been creating a wonderful fusion of Jewish and South American music together for almost as long as there has been a KlezmerShack. On their most recent (first?) trip to Boston two years ago, they brought Alef Bet, their most fully realized recording, yet. The album features their patented interplay between woodwinds and percussion/piano. Listen to Moguilevsky turn a simple "Zhok," first on flute?, and then Lerner's piano response, and then they begin improvising. "Una Luz" opens with quite, sparse chords by Lerner, and continues quietly exploring until the rapid pace of "Popurri" picks up Moguilevsky's clarinet and then the two are off, conversing wildly, excitedly, again. This is a quieter, more sure recording than their earlier efforts. It is less "klezmer-jazz fusion" and more it's own modern music in which one discerns strains of many things, but mostly, two musicians who have been sharing their conversations for decades, and who continue to find new, deeper, always-satisfying things to say to each other. Listening to Marcelo's whistling, as Lerner's piano walks quietly beside on the closing "Part of me," best expresses how far they have come, and how much richer our ears have been for the journey. Better, the days when ordering their CDs meant finding one's way in an Argentinian website and fantastic shipping charges are over. You can get this, and other recordings, directly from iTunes or

December 1, 2014

Five excellent mostly new recordings for holiday gift-giving

It is already after Thanksgiving and I haven't had time to make any additional dents in the pile of CDs that you =should= be considering for holiday gifts. Okay, I'll try to give some brief reviews of some of the essential new (mostly new) recordings:

cd coverI used to think of Isle of Klezbos as the lesser cousin of Metroplitan Klezmer, both anchored by drummer Eve Sicular, and both featuring many of the same musicians. But Live from Brooklyn shows that Isle of Klezbos is one of the premiere purveyors of that American form of klezmer: jazzy, brash, full of yiddish theatre songs and great dance music. This one is for the dancer in the house. You can get your copy right on Bonus: Order this between now and 12/3/14 midnight, and shipping is free.

cd coverFolklorist, singer, dancer Michael Alpert has been sharing a stage with Julian Kytasty for many years. One sings in Yiddish. The other in Ukrainian. Together they weave together two folk cultures in a beautiful acoustic set, Night songs from a neighboring village. Appropriately timed, given Ukraine's prominence in recent news, this one will leave you feeling all sweet inside—except for "Homebrew," which will encourage you to eschew the store-bought stuff and drink local. I remember the tune as Irish, but what do I know. What a great way to celebrate 20 amazing years of music from Oriente records.

cd coverI first noticed Zisl Slepovitch because of his brilliant "Minsker Kapelye" CD. But, that was back in the old country. Arriving here in the US, he formed a new ensemble, Litvakus, and presented the unique repertoire of Belarusian Jews as a thing of beauty. This is a pre-American jazz form of klezmer, along with nign and folksong. Raysn is a recording of unadorned beauty. I am in awe. Available online from Bandcamp.

cd coverAlthough you are less likely to hear cantorial music, much less good cantorial music in the synagogue today than even when I was young, one compensation is the myriad of ways in which cantorial music is being recontextualized. Some stylings are more tuneful and gentle, as in Frank London's cantorial music albums. Other artists, like Jeremiah Lockwood of The Sway Machinery have been louder and more discordant. Here, Tzadik recording artist, guitarist Yoshie Fruchter (also the grandson of a cantor) has reimagined and recontextualized some cantorial gems. Some are rendered as instrumentals, with his searing guitar replacing the cantorial sobbing of a hundred years ago. I find myself, in particular, drawn to his reimagination of the "Rosh Hashanah"" plea.In a few cases, he mixed original recordings in with his new musical settings, or sings the music, himself. The result is a loud, discordant, and ultimately immensely spiritual CD. Check out Schizophonia / Cantorial recordings reimagined and get copies for the musical explorers on your gift list. Available from Bandcamp.

cd coverThis last mention for tonight is from a recording that has been sitting on the review shelf for too long. I was reminded of it with a pang last night when I listened to Andy Statman play at a local club. Statman is famous for mixing klezmer and hassidic music and bluegrass so seamlessly that it isn't so much a melding of genres, but a fluency so natural, that all genres sound like facets of the same universal harmonies. That's what the Freilachmakers do with their blend of various Jewish music, starting with klezmer, and with Irish music. Intriguingly, this third recording, Klezmer at the confluence by the ensemble is all Jewish in source: klezmer, yiddish, ladino. But, I am happy to say that the Irish is also still present. Another very special recording from a very special band. This one goes to the persons on your list who don't yet know that klezmer is another way of speaking Irish. Get your copy(ies) from

November 4, 2014

Review of Zisl Slepovitch's excellent "Litvakus" CD, from Jewcy

This past week saw the CD release of Dmitri "Zisl" Slepovitch's latest project, Litvakus. To note that the CD is an extraordinary Eastern-European-style klezmer CD would be an understatement. (We would expect no less from the person responsible for the equally lovely Minsker Kapelye CD several years ago). You'll understand why the review is so knowledgeable when you glance at the byline:

Litvakus' New Album "Raysn" is Party Music for the Klezmer Set: Ethnomusicologist Dmitri Zisl Slepovitch plays the Jewish music of his native Belarus, by Rokhl Kafrissen / October 29, 2014

November 3, 2014

Joel Rubin Ensemble concert Geneva, "Midnight Prayer"

Joel writes: A nice video of part of my Midnight Prayer program with the Joel Rubin Ensemble in Geneva this past June 15 at Théâtre Cité Bleue, sponsored by Les amis de la musique juive. With Kálmán Balogh, cimbalom, Csaba Novák, bass, Claudio Jacomucci, accordion, Mark Kovnatskiy, violin:

He adds: (p.s. the CD of the whole program is on Traditional Crossroads and just went into a second printing :-) )

October 27, 2014

An exciting week in Cambridge, MA, and in NYC

There are a host of interesting and significant events happening this week in our northeast corner of the country.

Tonight, in NYC, Jeremiah Lockwood, leader of The Sway Machinery is back on this coast and will be debuting his new CD and offering up a tribute to his late mentor, Carolina Slim. Expect lots of blues.

Tomorrow night in Manhattan, CTMD and others present the exceptionally exciting NYC premier of Deborah Strauss's new women's klezmer violin trio, Figelin. More info at the KlezmerShack calendar. I might note that the trio is also appearing on Monday night in Brooklyn.

Most important for me, however, is the 2nd Annual Klezmer Festival at the Regattabar, here in Cambridge. Two of the most interesting Klezmer fusion bands, Klezwoods and KCB clarinetist Ilene Stahl's Klezperanto join forces. I've waited years to see Klezperanto again. This is going to be big. According to Ilene, we'll get the world premiere of lots of new repertoire and special guest, Kasia Sokalla, singer

Wednesday, for those lucky enough to be in Manhattan, Zisl Slepovitch is previewing his new Litvakus CD. I've heard it, and this is killer. It's called Raysn: The Lost Jewish Music of Belarus, and Dr. Slepovitch will also give a talk. He spent a decade researching the hidden musical treasures of Jewish Belarus (White Russia, also known in Yiddish as "Raysn") with the late, noted scholar Nina Stepanskaya. CTMD's Pete Rushefsky will interview Slepovitch during the program. More info on the KlezmerShack calendar, of course.

October 18, 2014

Catch Mark Rubin and the Youngers of Zion live on your laptop 10/24

Those who have scanned the KlezmerShack calendar may have noticed that Mark Rubin and the Youngers of Zion will be performing next week in Lafayette, LA. What you may not know is that you can tune in. Pay what you want, and the Blackpot Festival and Valcour Records Present will be playing this 30 minute (or longer) show directly into their laptop, just for you! Feel free to request songs in the chat room and leave a tip when you enjoy something.

Details at

Two different takes on Jewish music and Americana: Koby Israelite and Ezekiel's Wheel

cd cover

I have reviewed early Koby Israelite releases on these pages, and always with delight. But this latest, which includes some wonderful Americana, along with his usual patented remixing of world traditional music from all over (including a classic version of Bob Dylan's "Subterranean Homesick Blues," perhaps arranged as only an Israeli exile in London can). If you haven't heard of Israelite, or haven't yet heard Blues from elsewhere, you are in for a treat.

cd cover

The only thing sad about Ezekiel's Wheels first full-length release is that it has taken me a year to get it online. A traditional American klezmer band, the Wheels seem to infuse everything with a special energy. Their arrangements, even their newer compositions, are so much a part of the traditional approach to klezmer without foregoing what it means to be an American band making Ashkenazic Jewish simkhe music. They don't just sound special as a band, but in person they still seem special. This is the best capturing of that soul, so far, Transported

October 12, 2014

Zion80, Ichka, Lemon Bucket Orchestra, Lenka Lichtenberg/Yair Dalal - save the best for last from Ashkenaz 2014

So, we're just about at the end of my writing about the Ashkenaz 2014 fest and what I saw and heard there. Just a few more bands/releases to cover. Bear with me. I've kind of saved the best for last, so you wouldn't all go away.

The first full evening of the festival was Saturday night. As festival director Eric Stein noted, every act playing Saturday night was Canadian. That already makes Ashkenaz special. Beyond the rare incursion by some of the Montreal bands, you wouldn't think from sitting here in Boston that there was Jewish music, much less new Jewish music in Canada at all.

cd coverOne of the key ingredients of the festival is the ongoing dancing. This year, the band that did most of the playing for that dancing was a Montreal band, Ichka, that has also done some minor touring—they were even south of the border, here in Boston on a double bill with local favorites Ezekiel's Wheels last winter. They are a powerful, brassy ensemble that remind me in some ways of the venerable Dutch band, Di Gojim. Ichka is young and they play with excellence and fervor. Their first release, Podorozh, captures the contemporary North American klezmer sound: Not only familiar songs such as "Nifty's Freylakhs" or "Fun Tashlikh," but updated to include Steven Greenman's excellent "Dreaming of Goldenshteyn," a delightful "Glazier's Hora" from Alicia Svigals, and best of all, reaching across the pond to capture "the Tongue," by Merlin Shepherd (who, as already mentioned, was also at Ashkenaz with wife, singer/piano player, Polina Shepherd). Opening with a fantastic drumroll and a fantastic blaring of horns, this is both a blast from the past, and a statement about keeping the dancing speaking to us. If you were't at Ashkenaz, you can get your CD or MP3s from bandcamp.

cd coverJoining Ichka on its debut album was the Lemon Bucket Orkestra, one of Toronto's best street orchestras. You don't know from street orchestras? Somewhere, in an urban area near you there is a festival called "Honk!" featuring these popular, often-amateur ensembles from around the world. (Boston's was held this weekend, in fact!) Lemon Bucket is famed for calling out the band to play in an Assisted Living home, or to accompany a good protest. At Ashkenaz, they headlined on Saturday night, exciting the largest crowd I saw during the festival with incredible energy, precision, and a scintillating mix of klezmer, balkan, and whatever else they felt like playing. Their new recording, Lume Lume has the frenetic mix you would expect, with tunes from all over Eastern Europe, Jewish and otherwise. They close with one of my favorites, "7:40." Back towards the beginning of the klezmer revival, this was recorded by everyone. We all moved on. I am greatful to the Lemon Buckets for bringing it back, and for having so much fun playing. You can find out more and get your own copy (CD or MP3) from their bandcamp page.

cd coverAs part of my introduction to the artists playing at Ashkenaz, I mentioned Lenka Lichtenberg's recent CD, Songs for the breathing walls. She was at Ashkenaz to promote a new, just-released project, an album of lullabies which she has put together with Iraqi-Israeli artist Yair Dalal. Lullabies from Exile presents lullabies from both European and Mizrahi Jewish traditions. Featuring the gentle voices of both, as well as Dalal's wonderful oud, and backed by an excellent ensemble, this is the children's recording of the festival. Soothing and gentle, and drawing from so many Jewish traditions (and their overlap), it is a pleasure. Check out Lichtenberg's website for your own copy and for more info.

cd coverFinally, we come to my personal favorite, Sunday night's headline band, Zion 80, jazz guitarist/Tzadik recording artist Jon Madof's recent project merging the AfroPop sounds of Fela Kuti with the melodies of Shlomo Carlebach. While that original project was a wall of danceable, infectious nign, this concert highlighted material from the new release, Adramelech: The book of angels, vol. 22 featuring Madof's arrangements of John Zorn tunes from "The Book of Angels." The band isn't much smaller than the Lemon Bucket Orchestra, and took Jewish music to another continent entirely. If you don't have both of the Zion 80 releases, time to catch up. But, I also have to express my pleasure and delight especially at the new release. Available, of course, from Tzadik Records. Enjoy. Same time, same place, in two years for the next Ashkenaz Festival?

September 27, 2014

More from Ashkenaz 2014: Forshpil, Geoff Berner

Before memories of this year's Ashkenaz Festival totally dissipate, I wanted to continue my mentions of several notable bands and musicians encountered there.

cd coverFirst up is Forshpil, from Riga, Latvia. Although they performed a couple of traditional klezmer/yiddish sets at the obligatory "Bella Did ya eat?" brunch at the FreeTimes Cafe, the band is much more "rock-klezmer" fusion. In fact, the opening "Volekhl" on their eponymous 2012 CD immediately attracts the ears, sounding like an improbably successful marriage between Hawkwind and traditional klezmer. From there, it's on to a funk-infused "Priv Trink Oys." Despite the quite, gentle rendition of "Di sapozkelekh" or the closing "Dobranotsh," and although there are reggae and jazz influences, the dominant sound is that opening "heavy metal progrock" feel, along with a certain Dick Dale-inspired speed guitar picking, as on "Meyld in di yorn." In this, the band reminds me not a little of "Yiddish Princess." The diversity continues to good effect. Like so much good klezmer-and-more recordings these days, you can get your copy at, where you can also listen to samples of each of the songs.

cd coverGeoff Berner's 2011 "Victory Party" is a different kettle of fish. A long-time stalwart of the Canadian folkie scene, this is his sixth recording. Berner is often compared to Daniel Katz for the social commentary and (in Berner's case, relatively rare) Yiddish or klezmer inflections in his music. You can hear their similarities in songs such as "Laughing Jackie the Pimp" and in a very nicely contextualized "Daloy Polizei," also covered by Kahn (especially timely this year--and now that I think about it, all too often). At the same time, where Kahn both incites to action and expresses an ennui (this, too, will not ultimately change the world), Berner more often seems a bit more of a commentator, distant. His "Mayn rue platz" is less a call to action, than an evocation of sadness. But, we speak of relativity. "I am going to jail / to get a new pair of shoes" ("Jail") pulls few punches, despite its jaunty tune. "Oh my golem" is likewise fairly direct commentary. "Did you really think a perfect god / wants you to burn a goat / or nail the Messiah in place" from "Rabbi Berner finally reveals his true religion" may be gentle, but it's a call to action, nonetheless (smirk included).

In addition to performing at Ashkenaz, Berner was interviewed by DJ SoCalled (who also produced "Victory Party") at the Festival about his relatively recent short novel, Festival Man. Advertised as a hard-hitting satire about the Canadian Folk Festival scene, the book is actually a bit of a fond love poem to same—satire included, and a pleasure to read.

September 21, 2014

David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana, "Walk to the Sea"

another faux deep tzadik coverOne of the highlights of the Saturday evening concerts at this year's Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto was the appearance of David Buchbinder's Odessa/Havana. Showcasing their 2013 release on Tzadik, "Walk to the sea," the music was exhilarating. The fusion of Cuban, klezmer, and jazz, and much more was seamless. Buchbinder and his bands are always excellent, but watching pianist Hilario Durán was magic. Listening to vocalist Maryem Hassan Tollar live was a revelation. I have a short review of the CD now on the KlezmerShack. Enjoy. You can get your own copy via the band's website.

September 17, 2014

KlezKanada - 2014 student concert - Dave Tarras Ensemble

September 9, 2014

Klezmatics in studio, interview, on Voice of Israel

From Eitan of the "Voice of Israel." The Klezmatics are in town for a sacred music festival:

Musicians Frank London and David Licht of the Grammy award-winning band The Klezmatics perform live in-studio on VOI's Yishai Fleisher Show. Tune in for a fun conversation about culture, sacred music, and 'Jewy' pride.

September 8, 2014

Join campaign for Litvakus CD @ Indiegogo

Litvakus: The Lost Jewish Music of Belarus CD Help release our first full-length album Dear Friends, Litvakus is recording its first full-length album, Raysn (a Yiddish name for Belarus) that includes incredibly beautiful and endangered Belarusian Jewish music discovered and revived after 70 years of oblivion, as well original songs to the poetry of Moyshe Kulbak and Zisl Slepovitch. We are asking our friends for support that would make this project happen. Please check out the Litvakus' Raysn Indiegogo page for the full story of this record and consider supporting us through that page.

May 17, 2014

di bostoner klezmer, Jewish Heritage Night @ Fenway, Boston, May 29

Wondering when to catch your next Boston Red Sox game? Thursday, May 29 is "Jewish Heritage Night" at Fenway Park. di bostoner klezmer is thrilled to have been invited to play before the game on Yawkey Way as fans go into the stadium to see the Red Sox playing. We play from 5:40 P.M. for 50 minutes. Come say hello. It will be fun.

Thursday, May 29at 5:40pm - 6:30pm
1 Yawkey Place,
Boston, MA


New Klezmer class, Derbyshire, UK, 29-31 Aug 2014

From The London Klezmer Quartet:

I'm very excited to let you know that we're planning a klezmer course in Derbyshire for the end of August. Following on from the wildly popular KlezNorth spring weekend, a special course with the London Klezmer Quartet will be held 29-31 August in the same picturesque Peak District village. This one is for those who would like to delve deeper into the instrumental side of things. Course numbers will be capped at 30.


Youlgrave Village Hall, Holywell Lane, Youlgrave, Derbyshire DE45 1UT

Outline of activities

Jam: Friday 8.30pm til late at the Farmyard Inn
Course runs Saturday 11am to Sunday 1pm
LKQ in concert Saturday 8pm followed by session with optional dancing


  • Weekend: £45 (£40 early bird & concs). Includes Friday session and Saturday concert
  • Friday session only: £5
  • Saturday concert only: £10
  • Click here to book tickets

May 15, 2014

JewJamSouth, Aug 10-13, 2014

From our friends Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss:

festival logoJEWJAM SOUTH!

Join us for JewJamSouth, a four-day celebration of Jewish choral music, Yiddish song and klezmer music this August in Clayton, GA!

JewJamSouth will take place on August 10–13, 2014, at Ramah Darom's campus in the beautiful North Georgia mountains. The event is designed for passionate Jewish choral singers, klezmer instrumentalists, Hebrew and Yiddish singers and their families. Whether you are an experienced practitioner or a newcomer, this four-day festival will offer a feast of musical inspiration, ideas and fun.

JewJamSouth is open to people of all levels and backgrounds, and no previous experience is needed. Beginners are welcome.

Throughout the four days, you'll have a chance to participate in a hands-on ensemble program and study, perform and be mentored by world-renowned faculty:

Hazzan David Tilman, Program Director
"Hazzan David Tilman is Adjunct Associate Professor at the H.L. Miller Cantorial School of the Jewish Theological Seminary and the choral director at Keneseth Israel in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. He also serves as Hazzan Emeritus of Beth Sholom Congregation, where he created a nationally recognized five choir program.Hazzan Tilman is an award-winning, life-long conductor who has traveled around the world and received numerous awards, including the first Moshe Nathanson Award in conducting and the the Samual Rosenbaum Award for lifelong achievement from the Cantor's Assembly. His travels have included trips to Germany, Havana and Chile, but he is also well-loved right here at home, as he has been the music director of Camp Ramah in Wingdale and Nyack, as well as at the Brandeis Bardin Institute in Simi Valley, California.
Jeff Warschauer, Co-Director
Jeff Warschauer is a Founding Artistic Director and Senior Artistic Advisor of the KlezKanada Institute for Yiddish/Jewish Culture and the Arts, is on the faculty of Columbia University in New York, and is a graduate student in Cantorial Music and Modern Jewish Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary.
Deborah Strauss, Co-Director
Deborah Strauss is an internationally acclaimed klezmer violinist, an award-winning children's educator and a highly-regarded Yiddish dancer and dance leader.
The Strauss/Warschauer Duo
For over 25 years, Deborah Strauss (violin, accordion, vocals, dance) and Jeff Warschauer (guitar, mandolin, vocals) have been at the forefront of the international klezmer and Yiddish music scene. They were both long-time members of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, one of the premiere groups of the klezmer revival, and have performed with legendary violinist Itzhak Perlman on film and in concert. They are renowned worldwide for their depth of experience and knowledge, and for their innovative performances, residencies and workshops.

The event will culminate in a one-of-a-kind joint choral/klezmer gala performance.

  • Come enjoy a breathtaking view and gourmet Kosher cuisine among new friends;
  • Experience formal and informal Hebrew, Yiddish and Israeli singing and dancing;
  • Participate in choral and klezmer ensembles formed by JewJamSouth participants;
  • Enjoy a full klezmer concert and dance party with the world-famous Strauss/Warschauer duo, pioneering performers of the klezmer revival; and
  • Learn new musical skills and repertoire to bring back home with you.
  • Email Bennie Cohen with any questions, and register now, as spots are filling up quickly!

May 6, 2014

From the Shtreiml CD release party

cd cover

From the CD release concert for the new Shtreiml recording, "Eastern Hora," featuring Ismail Fencioglu. The band also features famed Philadelphia trombonist Rachel Lemish, composer/keyboardist/harmonica player Jason Rosenblatt, the incomparable Thierry Arsenault on drums, and Joel Kerr on bass. This is the band's second release fusing Turkish and klezmer music into something delicious. Find out more at

Composition Prize: Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band

CALL FOR SCORES • KCO COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Reimagining the American Klezmer Jazz Band COMPOSITION PRIZE 2015 Open to composers and arrangers ages 30 and under First Prize receives $1,000, performance of work, and live recording Multiple 2nd and 3rd prize awards available Deadline: December 19, 2014 (for best consideration, December 5, 2014) For guidelines, application, sheet music:

April 29, 2014

KlezKamp 2014 dates set: Dec 23 - 29

Dec. 23–29, 2014
30th Annual Yiddish Folk Arts Program
Shabbos KlezKamp in honor of our 30th Anniversary

Helping Yiddish culture flourish for 30 years!

Klezmer music and Yiddish Yiddish song, dance, theater, language, crafts, folklore and poetry--at all levels--taught by the world's most inspirational teachers. Full children's and teens programs. Held in the Catskills at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa, Kerhonkson, NY.

Later in September, please visit

March 28, 2014

Registration, Scholarship Apps open for KlezKanada, Aug 18-24, 2014

KlezKanada logoKlezKanada 2014
The Mystical and Supernatural in Ashkenazic Jewish Folklore and Practice

Mon, Aug 18 - Sun Aug 24, 2014
Camp Bnai Brith
Lantier, Quebec, Canada

If you have not yet registered, please do so here, as soon as possible. Reserve your place now before we fill up!

Scholarship applications are now open for emerging artists and scholars, ages 16 to 35. This internationally renowned program offers students an opportunity to study with many of the leading teachers of Yiddish/Jewish music and culture, and make friends and form artistic partnerships that will last a lifetime. Apply here.

March 7, 2014

German Goldenshtayn video online from CTMD, NYC

From Pete Rushefsky, writing to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

"We've just put up a new archival video on Bessarabian klezmer clarinetist German Goldenshteyn on the CTMD Archives website: in anticipation of Tuesday night's Tantshoyz Yiddish Dance Party featuring Michael Alpert, Alex Kontorovich and Naum Goldenshteyn:

February 7, 2014

EP of the day: Ben Holmes & Patrick Farrell / EP

CD coverI picked this up at a recent concert by the Yiddish Art Trio here in Boston. Both musicians, Ben on trumpet; Patrick on accordion, are vital members of the post-revival younger generation. Patrick released a wonderful, wildly diverse full-length CD a few years ago, Stagger Back, and I see him most often with various bands that include Michael Winograd and Benjy Fox-Rosen. I first noticed Ben as part of the legendary Princeton band, the Klez Dispensers. He is making a growing name for himself as a jazz trumpeter.

This is just a short recording, but I have been listening to it over and over. It starts with some traditional klezmer, to which the musicians have added some incisive improvisation, moves through Scriabin and Chopin, and finally ends with a Brian Wilson tune. What I like best is that the two play seamlessly, and beautifully together. I also appreciate that the music is often thought-provoking, and that I hear not just pop or classical or klezmer, but parts of something new that pulls these, and other influences, tunefully, together.

in short, just the short of recording, short though it might be, that my ears are always on the lookout for. You can get your own copy on Farrell's website. It will make for excellent Shabbes listening, good throughout the week.

January 13, 2014

New Kleztory video from Montreal

Here is a short video about a performance by the Montreal klezmer band, Kleztory, with the "Nouvelle Génération" Chamber Orchestra. The performance was held at Salle Claude Champagne, Montréal, Canada, November 23 2013.

December 12, 2013

more praise for "Joy of Klez" charts

No other klezmer book seems to get as much praise over the years. Here's another enthusiastic customer:

I think the Joy of Klez are tops and want to support Lori and the Maxwell St gang. I have a quartet at Tree of Life in Columbia Congregation, SC and Rabbi Sherman has been great in hosting us. We play mostly contemporary Klezmer from Daniel Galay but add traditional tunes and use the Joy of Klez books.

From my own experience in playing Klezmer, the Joy of Klez books are the best. The score provided allows adding instrumentation, but the supplied parts for violin/flute/mandolin, clarinet, alto sax, trumpet, bass and piano are very well written, easy to read and not difficult. Best is the fact that CDs are available to hear this music played in style. I am waiting for a second album.

A dank

Bill Campbell
Columbia, SC

To order the books from Tara Music, see:

Catching up #2: Hankus Netsky in the "Forward 50" for 2013

I meant to make a bigger deal of this. Now it's old news and the KlezmerShack hasn't even mentioned this. But it is a big deal. Hankus has mentored hundreds (thousands?) of amazing musicians over the years. If there is a cool project around town, he is probably part of it—often, unheralded. He continues to bring new musicians, to uncover scintillating old, forgotten music and put it back in our repertoire, and most of all, he remains a mensh making great music and getting us to dance. He has been a key figure in the klezmer/yiddish revival. Hard to beat that, and it's about time someone noticed:

Forward 50, 2013: Hankus Netsky

When superstar violinist Itzhak Perlman and celebrity cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot appeared at Brooklyn's Barclays Center in February, their musical director was hardly at the top of the bill. That is par for the course for Hankus Netsky, who helped mastermind Perlman and Helfgot's "Eternal Echoes" project. For more than 30 years, Netsky, 58, has been a quiet but powerful force affecting nearly every corner of contemporary Jewish music…. [more]

Catching up: Klezmatics given Lifetime Achievement Award at YIVO

This happened back on November 21, but it's still cool:

Klezmatics given lifetime achievement award at YIVO, by Jon Kalish

In the mid 1980s several key figures in the klezmer revival movement had day jobs at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. So, perhaps it was only fitting that The Klezmatics were given a lifetime achievement award at YIVO's Manhattan headquarters November 19. After cocktails and dinner at the Center for Jewish History's atrium on West 16th Street, the band performed a lively set in an auditorium after being introduced by Jeffrey Shandler, chair of the Jewish Studies department at Rutgers University…. [more]

December 4, 2013

From Moussa Berlin

החליל ומה אומרות ענייך The flute + Shneiorot

September 4, 2013

Concert review: Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, Boston, 2013

A highlight of the 2013 Boston Jewish Music Festival was a concert which featured violin virtuoso Itzhak Perlman and Cantor Yitzchak Meir Helfgot, backed by the Klezmer Conservatory Band and members of Boston Musica Viva.

Concert Review: Eternal Echoes: Songs and Dances for the Soul, by Dobe (Dena) Ressler

When's the last time you saw people dancing in the aisles at Symphony Hall? It doesn't happen often, but when Hankus Netsky directs a concert, even the improbable can happen. [more]

"The Yellow Ticket" reviewed in Philadelphia podcast

One of the most rewarding productions I have seen this year was the live music score written to accompany an early silent film, The Yellow Star. Written by violin maestro (maestra?) Alicia Svigals, and performed by her along with the equally amazing pianist, Marilyn Lerner, was incredible. The movie? Okay, it is easy to see how it got lost between the cracks. But the combination of violin, piano, and human voice that accompany the movie change the experience from viewing a static cultural document with curious history (essentially, an anti-Russian propoganda film created by Germans during WWI), to something far more alive and exciting—a iece that one hopes will remain in the active performance repertoire.

The piece is especially poignant as the National Foundation for Jewish Culture seems to have gotten out of the Jewish culture business and is instead focused on Israeli culture (not remotely the same thing, despite the obvious intersections). Feh.

In the meantime, folks in Philadelphia have done what I did not do when the piece was presented here in Boston earlier this year: they have reviewed the piece. So, let me provide a link to their audio podcast for your elucidation and pleasure:

The Yellow Ticket: An Early Record of 20th-Century Anti-Semitism, By David Patrick Stearns, May 12, 2013

"The 2013 Philadelphia Jewish Music Festival concluded with a curious 1918 silent film, The Yellow Ticket, presented at the Gershman Y in Center City, with live musical accompaniment that gave the often-grainy images a new life and renewed meaning. One of the first films about anti-Semitism, The Yellow Ticket reminded The Philadelphia Inquirer's David Patrick Stearns just how much the world has changed - and how much it has yet to change." [listen to the complete audio]

September 3, 2013

Community Klezmer Initiative in Philly now 501(c)(3)!

It's official, the grand Philadelphia outreach klezmer jam/open mic/cabaret/community dance project is finally, officially, a non-profit. For now, that means that they need people to show up and participate—easy to do. Sessions occur on the 1st Sunday of each month (although this month's was deferred due to Labor Day).

Celebrate first Sundays with your family, friends and neighbors.
1:00-3:00pm, Main Line Reform Temple, 410 Montgomery Avenue, Wynnewood, PA 19096
Enjoy Light refreshments along with fabulous klezmer, dancing and schmoozing

You can find out more at the group's home page which also contains a link to download sheet music (and get directions to the Main Line Reform Temple). You are also encouraged to "like" them on Facebook.

September 2, 2013

Klezmer festival at the Regattabar, Cambridge, MA, 24 Sep 2013

Have I mentioned this yet? So rare that one of Boston's jazz clubs notices klezmer, and here are the two most-frequently-performing local bands in one go. I'm very excited. It's on our calendar. On yours, yet?

"I would like to let you know about a big event that we are putting on next month. Ezekiel's Wheels is releasing their new album, Transported, and Klezwoods will be opening the program up for them @ The Regattabar on September 24th. They are making it the 1st Annual Regattabar Klezmer Music Festival!

We are doing a big push for this show as it's a particularly special event. This could be a good opportunity to bring in bigger acts in the future as well if this festival goes over well in its first year and would be huge for the Klezmer music community here in Boston. Here are all the exact details.

The Regattabar 1st Annual Klezmer Music Festival
September 24th, 2013
The Regattabar
1 Bennett St., Cambridge, MA


Featuring Ezekiel's Wheels CD Release of Transported and Klezwoods

Klezmer class to be offered in Portland, ME starting Oct 8, 2013

From the Casco Bay Tummlers:

Hey Klezmer fans,

Do you play an instrument and have you ever wanted to play klezmer?

Carl Dimow, flutist, guitarist, arranger and composer for the Casco Bay Tummlers, will be teaching a special four week introductory Klezmer Ensemble class, this October at Portland Conservatory of Music. The class will meet on four consecutive Tuesday evenings, starting October 8th. The classes will go from 7:30– 9:00 pm. The tuition is $80 for members, (currently enrolled private lesson students at the Conservatory), and $100 for non-members.

The only requirement for the class is a basic facility on your instrument. In the class we'll be learning and arranging a number of classic klezmer tunes. In the process we'll learn some of the scales and rhythms that define this music. We'll also discuss the history of the music and listen to recordings by influential musicians.

To register for the class, contact Portland Conservatory, (which is located at Woodfords Church, 202 Woodford St., Portland).

August 26, 2013

Andy Statman interview, clips on Aish site

Via @TheRealTzvi on twitter, in response to my recent tweet about the Center for Traditional Music and Dance clips of Dave Tarras. Statman is widely considered to be Tarras' musical heir:

Klezmer's Virtuoso: Patience and perseverance: Andy Statman's journey through Judaism and music, by Rabbi Tzvi Gluckin

Andy's earliest musical memories are his family's collection of 78s; an old-school mashup of show tunes, classical music, popular songs, and Jewish music (what would today be called klezmer). Shortwave radio and an encounter with WWVA out of West Virginia - Andy lived in Queens - turned him on to country music and bluegrass, inspiring him to take up an instrument. … [more]

August 25, 2013

new from Auris Media in Israel, plus Tim Sparks, Freylekh Trio, and 3 Leg Torso

There is an amazing label in Israel, Auris Media, putting out delicious, noisy, mashed-up fusion music. I got my latest fix this week, so let me give you all a quick rundown as I get ready to spend more time listening. I'll also put up links as to how to get these—the Auris Media website is the latest of my favorite vendors to suffer misfortune. In their case, most of the most recent CDs are not listed (or order-able online), although there is an active concert listing for those in Israel. I should also mention that if you purchase physical media, you are getting beautiful packages. This label is a labor of love. For those of us who treasure non-commercial music, Auris Media is a treasure.

unreadable, but beautiful coverLong-time readers of this site will be familiar with "Kruzenshtern and Parohod," a punk/avant-garde-ish band from Tel Aviv. More on them, anon. Most important at the moment is that they have completed two recent EP recordings with fellow-travelers, Vialka, from France. The combined band is know as the "KiV Orchestra." I love it! another unreadable, but beautiful coverEach of these recordings contains only five songs. It's as if the US punk-klezmer-balkan band, Golem moved even more extreme (and lost the klezmer), or if soulmates "Painted Bird" likewise amped up the noise and added French and Russian. Heck. "After Hostilities Ended" from Extension could have come from Daniel Kahn if they'd only sung it in Yiddish! KiV is a noise circus coupled with the amazing vocals of Marylise Frecheville. From the press release: "… a twisted version of Berlin 1920s cabaret into broken tango chansons, outsider's music from the Balkan and traditional Russian prisoner's songs. All these different styles and flavors mixed together with tons of black humor and a tough punk attitude." Get your recordings on iTunes, or from the Vialka website: Whatever hyperbole follows about other recordings? It may be true, but this is what has captured my listening time since its arrival. Extra kudos for "This is Not Tradition" on the LaRoue EP. You can also get most of the contents of the two EPs on a new release on LP/MP3: Whole.

too damn much pinkIgor Krutogolov and his fellow Tel Aviv-niks have been busy. I captured a short set of theirs a couple years ago on the KlezmerShack channel on YouTube which contains some material ("Koshka") from the most recent release, Hidden Album. The band (the origins of whose name resides in Russian irony; no duo, no Kruzenshtern, no Parohod) is now up to four members since the addition of accordionist Boris Martinovsky, the "Michael McLaughlin of the Israeli avant garde." What they haven't lost is intensity. pleasing 'kishkushim' on the outside, inside a bit too 'heavy metal portraitureGoing back a bit further to what is new to me is Noize 2005. With one song arranged by John Zorn, and that aforementioned intensity (and even without Martinovsky's accordion) the band reminds me a lot of my local Boston homies, Naftule's Dream, with an eclectic avant garde, anarchic-sounding intricately-arranged set of boundary-pushing punk-inflected soundscapes. That may be the longest string of compound adjectives I've used in a while. This isn't simple music (nor music for simple people ;-)). But unlike a lot of such music, these guys have their instruments attuned to something special. I may be listening to KiV Orchestra more, this week, because it is entirely new, but these two CDs will stay out with their brothers for a long while. Get your copies directly from iTunes, or from band camp.

too damn much blueRussian rapper/singer Psoy Korolenko is a treasure. In his second outing with Israel's premier klezmer band, Oy Division, Psoy Division / Dicunt he spreads anarchy and good feelings far and wide. It is easy to imagine, in fact, a delightful concert featuring this lineup and the earlier-reviewed KiV Orchestra. I'd go a long way to hear them all live. This is a reasonable place to listen in the meantime. As on his earlier recording with Daniel Kahn (just a few sentences from now), Psoy is mashing up Russian, Yiddish, Hebrew, klezmer, and rap, all to wondrous effect. There is even an excellent cover of Daniel Kahn's recent "Love Lays Low." But, here he is messing more directly with traditional folk traditions, ranging from Russian to Hasidic. I have attitude. I love it when really good musicians mess with things. fun lettering, fun illustrationFor those who need their "messing" more political, I've had Daniel Kahn, Psoy Korolenko, Oy Division / The Unternationale in the "listening, must review soon" pile for a couple of years, but haven't gotten a mention online. More shame, me. From the echoes of "Sympathy for the Devil" on the opening "Rakhmones afn tayvl" in Russian and Yiddish with its brilliant klezmer sound, this recording is delightful. The irony of sitting in Jerusalem and refighting the battles between the Zionists and Bundists (exemplified by a cover of the 1931 Beregovski recording, "Oy, ir narishe tsienistn"), plus the usual counterspin on life, politics make this a recording that is not just fun to hear, but fun to listen to closely Psoy's anti-cleric rap in the middle of the traditional Russian "Ekh Lyuli Lyuli" is worth the price of admission all on its own.

another so so album cover and so so typeIf you have stuck it out this far, you must be wondering if the KlezmerShack is ever going to review, say, klezmer again. Is there something on my review pile that is just plain pleasant to listen to, but also worth listening to? So, I'll conclude today's mini-reviews with a mention of Le Freylekh Trio / featuring Goulash System". As Tim put it in his most recent nudge, "One of the coolest bands in Paris. Klezmer-Gypsy-Balkan-African... The sounds of Menilmontant and La Goutte D'Or!" Easy for him to say. He's featured on this recording. If you like Django Reinhardt and jazz that swings, if you like Gypsy and klezmer music, if you just like great guitar and playing, plus wonderful vocals, then this is the recording to listen to. On this recording, the basic guitar-fiddle-bass are joined by a host of others. You can check out the recording on soundcloud.

a photo as garish as Naftule BrandweinOkay, now I have mentioned Tim Sparks, the amazing guitarist who, among other accomplishments (more in a minute) has released several tuneful and entirely un-avantgarde Jewish music recordings on Tzadik. Listening/watching him play is one of those special pleasures. There is a warmth to his playing (and an amazing speed to his fingers) that always blows me away and makes me feel good inside. On this 2009 release, Time Sparks / Little Princess, Tim channels crazy man Naftule Brandwein. In Tim's fingers, Brandwein's emotionally complex clarinet solos become instrumentally complex guitar heaven. Ben Bresky interviewed Tim about the album back in 2009 if you want to know more. But me, I'd just get the recording. Right. I have it. Now I've told you about it and you can do the same ;-).

a photo as garish as Naftule BrandweinAs well as he plays klezmer and other Jewish music, Sparks is better known for covering early 20th century blues and jazz. As he describes in the liner notes to Tim Sparks / Sidewalk Blues, 2009, the early 20th century is when "American Roots music crystallized and was transformed by the effects of recording and radio.…" This is actually the music I loved before I encountered klezmer (and Stockhausen—but that's another story), and this recording is spankin' great. You can get your copy right off his website, along with his guitar transcriptions, books, and instructional DVDs.

Well, some of the piles are a bit shorter now. Thank you for giving me the excuse to spend the afternoon listening to some of my new, and older favorites, all of which needed to be shared.

July 17, 2013

From our overflowing stack of new klezmer releases - a sampling of recent favorites

There are new CDs arriving every week. I got an email this week from a friend who saw one band from Knoxville, TN. "I don't think you know what it's like to encounter good klezmer here in the hinterlands! The least you can do is mention the CD on your website." So, we'll get to "Dor L'Dor" in a few minutes. And, in keeping with that suggestion, today's post, long as it is, focuses primarily on Klezmer. Despite our name, that is a small fraction of the wide array of Jewish music that is sent for listening and review, so stay tuned for some variety in coming days and weeks.

In the meantime, for those of you who are curious, last week I got most of one of the simpler websites set up acceptably in Drupal! It's only been a decade or so. Expect to see some fun announcements soon. There is still some significant work I want to do before launching that website and starting to apply that knowledge to the KlezmerShack, but, thanks to the ever-useful Using Drupal, things are finally starting to fall into place.

joy with (primarily) primary colors!The first CD I have to mention was released just today. The Breslov Bar Band is a joyous melee of klezmer, hasidish, funk, rock, ska, punk, and more. I loved the first CD, but this one just hits the spot. For many Happy Hours, Check out the CD website and extended liner notes, and then order the CD or MP3. I am likely to give this a more extensive review as time permits.

trendy middle earth coverAnother arrival this week is from a Polish band, "Di Galitzyaner Klezmorim." This release follows in the wake of several other recent Polish bands such as Kroke and the Bester Quartet in that the music is klezmer-influenced jazzy world music. In this, to some extent, they are also children of the later works by Brave Old World. At a first listen, the musicians are excellent, as well. There are extensive liner notes. Check it out at

brass unleashed but held back by cheesy typeThis is the band that got me started on this post. Dor L'Dor is based in Knoxville, TN, which is also home to a dear friend. Said friend was at a concert by the band and was blown away. "Why," he lamented, "was such an excellent band not mentioned on the KlezmerShack?"dancing at the khuppah with more cheesy type אשמתי. Mea culpa. The band is a delightfully brassy concoction. Their most recent CD is a few years old, but remains a nicely jazz-inflected collection of Jewish standards, most definitely living up to its title, "Not Your Father's Klezmer Band." Their earlier release, "Dance for your Life" is more straightforward modern Jewish wedding music. Both include klezmer, Israeli standards, old favorites, familiar and less so (one number works in "Putting on the Ritz"), often arranged in the sorts of medleys you would expect (and enjoy) at your next simkha or rounding out a good Jewish dance mix tape. Available, of course, on as well as common mp3 platforms

brass unleashed but held back by cheesy typeYou'd think it would be easier to get a mention on the KlezmerShack if you live nearby and run into Mr. KlezmerShack at gigs. Hah! You get the same look of despair and "how can I keep up" that everyone else gets—just to your face, instead of via email. Having said that, Dick Schoeller, of Shpilkes Klezmer Band (note proper Yiddish transliteration of the band name) put his band's newest release, "Can't Sit Still," (2012) into my hands at the most recent Boston Jewish Music Festival. Featuring excellent instrumentals, as well as vocals by Barbara Green, Arnie Harris, and Dick, himself. This CD features mostly klezmer, with one Ladino and one Hebrew song.

fun with memorabilia of the last centuryAnd speaking of local bands that I love and don't mention often enough, it is over half a year since the KlezWoods released their second CD, "The 30th Meridian: From Cairo to St. Petersburg with love." You can get your copy either on a physical CD or from iTunes. KlezWoods have long been my favorite klezmer bar band, and this CD begins to capture them at their best, playing all manner of Jewish simkha tunes and their own originals ("Somerville Sirba," anyone? Perhaps on "January 7th Early in the morning"). If you have the pleasure of catching them live, this will help you remember the good times. If you haven't yet had that pleasure, this is close enough—get your copy soonest.

If you liked ET, you might like this coverBased up in the northwest corner of the United States, Bellingham, Washington, Millie and the Mentshn offer a surprisingly classical Jewish sound. At times, with Millie's trained voice, the band sounds more like a "chamber simkhe" band than their more common and more raucous counterparts elsewhere. Bandleader Millie Johnson is out to entertain, but also to tell the story of her family's immigration experience, as well as stories of most of us whose ancestors came from Eastern Europe a century ago. Cover not notable for design or for typographyIn "Another DiMentshn" (2008), the band opens with a song written by a Brazilian Jewish immigrant a century ago ("Tico Tico""), gives the Israeli pioneer song more often known as "Arava, Arava" a cowboy beat, and otherwise ranges wide from klezmer to Ladino to Yiddish. In a second CD from the same year, "Mentshn It" (2008) the band performs a wide array of klezmer and yiddish folk/theatre tunes, but also recounts the experience in di goldene medine with "Brother can you spare a dime.". Sound samples, and more available on the band's website.

Nice and imaginative coverI close for today with a mention of a dear recent recording by Klezmerfest accordion maestro Zevy Zions. You can hear Zevy and the rest of the gang this fall at Greg Wall's birthday bash at the NY Klezmer Series. In the meantime, on this disk (his fourth) he takes us on another solo tour of the world via accordion. Despite the presumed limitation of using his solo accordion only, this is a very sweet and varied CD. But, you can get your copy of Bolero Fantasia from and other find klezmer vendors. Check out the sound samples on and try it yourself, or reach the review at the esteemed Blog in Dm.

July 8, 2013

almost time for Yidstock, Amherst, MA, Jul 18-21, 2013

There are some real goodies happening out in Amherst weekend after next. Here are some excerpts from the latest newsletter. Need I mention that we haven't seen Klezperanto live, anywhere, in years. To see them with Margot Leverett and her Klezmer Mountain Boys? Priceless:

Yidstock Logo 2013Yidstock 2013: The Festival of New Yiddish Music

July 18 - 21, 2013 at the Yiddish Book Center
Amherst, MA

"There are two concerts on the program that no one has ever seen anywhere else, and which will probably never be repeated. Frank London, trumpeter and founding member of the Klezmatics, and Steven Bernstein, a great jazz trumpeter who's worked with The Lounge Lizards, will be appearing on the Yidstock bill as Brass Khazones. Yidstock will conclude with a massive jam session at the end of the weekend featuring the "Yidstock All-Stars," a group comprised of players from the weekend's bands, under the musical directorship of Frank London. Among those all-stars are two of the greatest clarinetists in klezmer: Ilene Stahl of Klezperanto and Margot Leverett of Klezmer Mountain Boys."

"To see the full schedule and to order tickets or a Festival Pass (a limited number are available) visit or call us at 413-256-4900."

July 5, 2013

Review of Strom's "Shpil"

book coverShpil: The Art of Playing Klezmer, edited by Yale Strom, Lanham, MD: The Scarecrow Press, 2012. 153 pp. Reviewed by Jonathan L. Friedmann, Ph.D.

"The past decade or so has witnessed a flourishing of books tackling various aspects of klezmer, a term referring both to a style of Eastern European-born Jewish folk music and the musicians who perform it. Growing interest in the centuries-old genre has spurred the printing of a variety of songbooks, fake books, instrument-specific collections, historical analyses and ethnographic studies. All of these areas find a home in Shpil: The Art of Playing Klezmer, a slim yet information-rich volume edited by accomplished klezmer violinist and ethnographer Yale Strom. Filled with historical details, practical advice, technical instruction, musical examples and illustrative anecdotes, this all-in-one book gathers the wisdom of renowned klezmer performers, specifically Peter Stan (accordion), Jeff Pekarek (bass), Norbert Stachel (clarinet), David Licht (drums), Yale Strom (violin) and Elizabeth Schwartz (vocals)." [more]

July 4, 2013

A Biselle KlezKamp - free day-long workshop, Madison, WI, Jul 21, 2013

event logoA Biselle KlezKamp (a bit of KlezKamp) Please join us for our next day-long, free event on July 21, 2013, 9am-9pm. UW-Madison campus Union South 1308 Langdon Street Madison, WI More info: call 608-890-4818 or visit Music, dance, language, art, and cultural studies—plus age appropriate children's programming—are the lively core of this whirlwind 12-hour extravaganza of Eastern Euro pean / American Jewish life. A Biselle KlezKamp is the Midwest's premiere Yiddish event. This year's program will be as rich as ever. Our world renowned staff will return with new and exciting offerings, and we've implemented suggestions from previous attendees to make this event even more responsive to the needs of all participants, veterans and newcomers alike. If you've attended A Biselle KlezKamp before, come back to continue deepening your exploration of the bounties of traditional and popular Yiddish culture with our new workshops and lectures. And if you've never joined us, what are you waiting for? Yiddish culture is a thousand years old, but it can't wait for you forever! We'll be there. Will you? Join us! Henry Sapoznik Director, Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture

June 20, 2013

Fuse interviews Ezekiels Wheel

Thanks to Joey Baron, of the Boston Jewish Music Festival for the link. As one of the judges who voted for Ezekiel's Wheel in their Klezmer Idol walk-away (we were unanimous), I hope to see a large crowd Monday night, in Brookline:

Rolling with Ezekiel's Wheels, by Debra Cash

April 10, 2013

4th Kleztival in Brazil, Sep 28-Oct 6, 2013

Kleztival—the 4th edition of the Brazilian Jewish Music Festival will be held in São Paulo, from September 28th to October 6th, 2013. Major concerts and workshops all around Brazil. For further info:

IMJ Brasil—Jewish Music Institute
tel: +5511 3159-1997
São Paulo, Brazil

January 22, 2013

Review of the new Michael Winograd, "Storm Game"

CD coverPoet Jake Marmer has a (deservedly) very positive review of a wonderful new album by Michael Winograd in this week's Forward:

A Klezmerizing Performer: Clarinetist Winograd Transcends Tradition, by Jake Marmer (week of January 25, 2013)

"Thirty-year-old clarinetist and composer Michael Winograd is … [t]horoughly at home with traditional klezmer repertoire, he is able to powerfully summon the wild tragicomic essence of this music in his original compositions. His newest album, "Storm Game," is a complex and not easily classifiable record that not only showcases Winograd's impressive chops, but also grapples with fundamental questions about the very nature of contemporary American klezmer." [more]

August 2, 2012

Klezmer Idol winners, Ezekiel's Wheel, captured live

It was a drizzly, rainy evening as I rode my bicycle to the library for a delightful concert by Ezekiel's Wheel. The band is young, skillful, and inventive. It is a pleasure to listen to people in love with the music explore it live. I also realized how much klezmer has changed, even in the hands of relatively traditionalist players (without speaking of yeshivish or djs and the rock/jazz bands with the one "hava nagila" set—I have never, in fact, heard Ezekiel's Wheel play "Hava Nagila"). Nobody is trying to imitate old '78s any more. The tunes are longer, more danceish, more improvised. And even here, Sephardic music and other influences find their way, both explicitly and otherwise, into the playing. As I said, a delight

July 15, 2012

Last day of Yidstock

Well, after a whole week of film about various parts of the Klezmer Revival and new Jewish music, and a bang-up concert by So-Called last night, Yidstock ends today with an impressive series of shows starting with a sold-out Brian Bender brunch at 10am.

There are still tix available for the Hankus Netsky and Hebrew National Salvage show at noon (we'll certainly be there) with some recently discovered Yiddish gems. Then, for a change of pace the always-astounding Frank London's Klezmer Brass AllStars—with Eleanor Reissa are up at 2pm (It's true, we would have shlepped out to Amherst just for this.). The Festival finale, a concert with the Klezmatics at 4pm, is sold out (we settled for standing room only).

It's been a great weekend of music, from enjoying the Bang on a Can summer residency at Mass MoCA (North Adams) on Friday, to catching Arlo Guthrie and Family last night at Green River, to today. It will seem so mundane to end vacation and be back to work in the morning.

May 12, 2012

חוויות לג בעומר במירון Meron Sketches

Getting more into the current holiday spirit, Moussa Berlin sends the following from Lag B'Omer celebrations past at Meron, in Israel.

אוסף סקיצות מחגיגות לג בעומר במירון על רקע נגינתו של משה (מוסא) ברלין

Meron celebrations sketches with Moussa Berlin playing at background

May 3, 2012

Tribute to klezmer Avrum Segal, z"l

Moshe Berlin posted this video to the Jewish-Music mailing list, a tribute to the late klezmer and teacher in Israel, Avrum Segal, z"l who passed away just before Rosh Hashanna in 1993. The tribute was held in 1994.

Describing a "Jewish" hora mare from Bucovina

Many thanks to Joel Rubin for spotting this article and posting the link to the Jewish music mailing list. It includes both music and a short discussion:

Jewish Music From Bucovina, by Miamon Miller

April 29, 2012

Registration open! Yiddish Summer Weimar, Jul 21 - Aug 21, 2012

Registration is now open at the website for Yiddish Summer Weimar 2012 (July 21 - August 21). This summer's topic is "The bridges of Ashkenaz"—connections in song, instrumental music, dance and language between the Western European origins of Yiddish culture and its great flowering in Eastern Europe many centuries later. Whether you're a beginner, a pro, or somewhere in between, we invite you to join an incredible international community of artists, scholars and students from all walks of life. Check out the website for this year's exciting program of dance, music, song and more:

Warm greetings to all,
Alan Bern

April 23, 2012

22nd Jewish Culture Festival, Krakow, Poland, Jun 29 - Jul 8, 2012

From Jeff Warschauer to the Jewish Music list:

Come to the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow this summer!

For several years now I've had the great privilege of teaching the Yiddish Song workshop at the festival in Krakow. We truly have a wonderful time, and you will make new friends from all over the world. Here's the description for this year:

22nd Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow, 2012

Yiddish Song Workshop: Answering the Big Questions Through Yiddish Songs

We all confront the big questions: What is the meaning of life? Why are we here? What shall we have for Shabbes lunch? And Yiddish songs attempt to answer these kinds of questions, too! Each year, a wonderful, international community comes together in Krakow to sing, dance, learn and have fun. All are welcome, with no previous experience necessary. Join us!

Info on the whole festival:,en.html

Sound and Light Cinematic Duo trailer

From Polina Shepherd:

At last I've managed to upload a short demo of our silent film programme - you may have seen Merlin and myself accompanying these fantastic earliest cinematic representations of east European Jewish communities. Thought I could share...

Sara’s Grief “Cine-fono” magazine 1913 #25

Sara is a beautiful Jewish woman, granddaughter of the local rabbi who is loved by two brothers, Itzik and Borukh. They are sons of a wealthy Jew, Rabinovitch. They both love her deeply but she loves Itzik. Her parents consent that she marries him. Borukh loves both Sara and his brother and wishes them happiness in their family life, but he leaves the shtetl. It would have been too hard for him to keep seeing Sara and realising that she doesn’t belong to him.

Itzak and Sara are happy in their mutual love but God didn’t bless them with children, which they desperately wanted. Ten years past since their marriage but there are no children.

So Itzak’s parents and other Jewish shtetl authorities decide that they have to divorce. For her grandfather the rabbi it is a shame that his granddaughter is childless, it means that she doesn’t have God’s blessing. The authorities insist on it but Itzak fights against their opinion. Eventually he is too weak to struggle with everybody and agrees to sign the get (divorce certificate). The get has been ready for a long time, so Itzak has simply to sign it and take it to Sara. From that moment, they would be considered to be officially divorced, but the question is how to get this paper to the wife that he loves to death. She wouldn’t agree to the divorce, but the Jews have a special trick in this case; one can bring this paper to the wife using deceitful means. The most important thing is to have witnesses. As soon as she takes hold of this fateful paper and the others witness it, she is divorced.

The authorities decide to use his trick. One of them dresses as a pauper and whilst taking mitzveh geld (alms) from her, drops the document. Sara picks it up and already whilst opening the document realises that trick, too late!

She is in despair. She shares her grief with her husband but at the same moment, the Jewish authorities announce that she has to leave her husband’s house, and he is a stranger to her fro now on. This terrible outcome affects the weak Itzak so much that he takes a rope and ties it to a hook on the wall and ends his bitter existence.

Itzak was buried according to strict Jewish traditions. And Sara is inconsolable. She moans and longs and yearns and after gets seriously ill. Her father and mother invite a doctor to see their dear daughter. The doctor having examined the patient announces categorically that she is absolutely fine and is going to become a mother soon. So if Itzak had waited to define his destiny, they would both be happy.

And this is a play of ruthless fate.

April 21, 2012

Klezmer Paris - July 9-13, 2012

STAGES de MUSIQUE et de CHANT– Été 2012
Musique juive d’Europe centrale

Klezmer Paris - 2012
du lundi 9 au vendredi 13 juillet

Stage destiné essentiellement aux professionnels, semi-professionnels, musiciens, et chanteurs de bon niveau, sous la direction d’artistes de renommée internationale.


March 17, 2012

Central Massachusetts "Klezmer Idol"?

Last Sunday night I was one of the judges at the Boston Jewish Music Festival's "Klezmer Idol" (more about which, anon). So much fun was had, that Fred Ledley, of Shpilkes Klezmer, is interest in helping to organizae a similar contest at the Worcester, MA JCC:

We are working with the Worcester JCC to organize a “Battle of the Klezmer Bands” at the Worcester JCC around Chanukah 2012—date to be announced. This will be similar to last [Sunday] night's Klemer Idol at Ryles (which was awesome).

We are looking for amateur bands that would like to participate in an afternoon or evening event.

This will be a high energy, friendly “competition,” where everyone wins by being part of an evening of great music with a wonderful audience and the camaraderie of other Klezmorim.

Would it be possible to post or send a call-out to bands that might be interested. I know the local bands, but there must also be bands in central/west MA and surrounding areas.

Fred Ledley
Shpilkes Klezmer Band
E-mail Shpilkes

September 24, 2011

Music to accompany a new year

Tonight, of course, is selichot, the midnight prayers held on the Saturday night before the New Year. With that in mind, I have shuffled the mountains of CDs on the review table and come up with six especially wonderful recordings that most seemed perfect for tonight, and of course, for the new year:

cd coverFirst on the list is last year's long-awaited recording from Adrienne Cooper / Enchanted. I would have reviewed this long ago, but that would have implied that I would put it on the shelf and move on to other CDs that I need to review. No way this CD is unshuffling from the iTunes. Read more, and you'll understand why.

cd coverI couldn't stop kvelling about the Veretski Pass project, "The Klezmer Shul" back when I first saw it live over a year ago. Now the CD is out and you can hear why. A fusion of klezmer and jazz and avant garde modern music, the arrival of this CD a couple of weeks has pushed almost everything else out of mind.

cd coverThis one CD summation of three monster concerts from a year ago, "Further Definitions of the Days of Awe" is a perfect summation of both the Afro-Semitic Experience's wonderful fusion of Jewish and Black sacred music, and the art of the Cantor as mostly represented by the irrepressible Jack Mendelson, but also including several other significant names. And what better time for High Holiday nusakh than the High Holidays?

cd coverAll last year we got periodic new sounds from "The Nigun Project" by Jeremiah Lockwood, commissioned by the Forward. What is most striking is how much ground Lockwood covers in re-imagining the Nigun while also making deep music. I love this one.

cd coverI am a year late in my review, but at least I am right in time for the holidays with this return of Steven Greenman's sacred music persona, Stempenyu. This time, he captures "Stempenyu's Neshome". I typeset and laid out the CD, so it can't be all bad—actually, if I were as good a typesetter as Greenman is a violinist, this would be long out of print. Fortunately, you can still get your copy in time for the holidays.

cd coverWhy? Because if there is one thing that will ensure repentence, and get us in the frame to approach the awe of the approaching holidays, it is a reminder of what makes us happy. This loving 2008 re-release of Danny Rubinstein's original 1958 "The Happy People is all that.

September 22, 2011

Yiddish classes w/Deborah Strauss, NYC, start Sep 25, 2011

Come Play Klezmer with Deborah Strauss at the 92nd Street Y, New York City!
5 Sundays starting September 25, 3-5 pm

All instrumentalists (intermediate and above) are invited to join the kapelye (band) led by international klezmer star-fiddler and educator Deborah Strauss.

For more info and to register go to:

September 10, 2011

Ger Mandolin Orchestra - the documentary

One of the neatest projects to come out of Berkeley's Jewish Music Festival is the Ger Mandolin Orchestra, which has performed at the festival, and this past winter (? spring?), back in Poland. The project was initiated by a descendent of a member of the original Ger Mandolin Orchestra (a century ago, every town&mdashand many US "Workmen's Circle" groups, had mandolin orchestras), Bay Area resident Avner Yonai.

September 9, 2011

This week's hot CD releases--Klezmatics, Afro-Semitic Experience, Yaeko Mirando Elmaleh, Roger Davidson

CDs sometimes come in far faster than I can review them. I am going to try to at least get the word out on these with release dates in the coming week, and hope to catch up with reviews as I can.

cd coverI have already mentioned this new Klezmatics release celebrating their 25th anniversary. The main CD release party is on September 14th in NYC. Let me also repeat that when I first saw the band 15 years or so ago. At that time, as on this CD, the band came out and Lorin launched into a cut off their breakout CD, Jews with Horns, "Man in a Hat." Well, same cut, same energy—or more, and the broadest repertoire of new and traditional Jewish music and Americana played by anyone. You need this CD, and you can get it by doing good: In five days, on September 13th, the Klezmatics either reach their Kickstarter goal of $15,000 to pay for this tour and CD—or they don't. Then what? The band sets up shop as housepainters? That would be bad. Check out the Klezmatics Kickstarter campaign and pledge until it hurts. Make this happen.

cd coverDavid Chevan has been exploring Jewish and Afro-American spiritual music through the lens of jazz, for years. As I love mentioning, my first date with the person who is now my wife was at the CD release of one of his first efforts. The music gets better. David writes: "For most of the past decade the Afro-Semitic Experience has played the midnight Selichot service with Cantor Jack Mendelson at his synagogue in White Plains. We have, in the process, created a new way to accompany cantorial music and we decided to document it. We recorded three concerts in August, 2010 just before the High Holy Days, one in New York City, one in New Haven, Connecticut, and one in Greenfield, Massachusetts. And now that music is ready for you to hear. The new CD is called Further Definitions of the Days of Awe and it features the band with special guests Cantor Jack Mendelson, Cantor Lisa Arbisser, Cantor Erik Contzius, cantorial soloist Danny Mendelson, and trumpeter Frank London. The CD officially drops on Tuesday, September 13, but it is already on sale at iTunes and —if you want to hear the music first you can listen to three tracks for free at this website:

cd coverIf, like me, you have noticed that the fiery new violinist in the Klezmer Conservatory Band these last few years also seems to be a favored accompaniest and band-member on other Hankus Netsky projects, you won't be surprised that the classically trained violinist's first CD, Yaeko Miranda Elmaleh features a broad spectrum of underplayed, but very traditional klezmer tunes, ranging from the "Philadelphia Sher" (from whom could you have learned that?) to "Meron" and "Kaddish" (okay, this is Ravel), to some Carlebach tunes and "Waltz from the Hills of Manchuria." The CD release party is this Tuesday, Sep 13, in Boston at Club Passim, one of my favorite venues.

cd coverJazzman Roger Davidson explores klezmer with some of my favorite musicians, including Frank London, Josh Horowitz, Khevre graduate and current Klezmatics drummer Richie Barshay, the great Pablo Aslan on bass … and Andy Statman. The territory is relatively familiar, but this is an all-star cast. The CD, On the Road of Life . The release party is September 17th, at Drom, in NYC.

September 5, 2011

Video from Giora Feidman's 75th birthday

From Dobe Ressler, currently visiting Israel:

git a kuk - fayne frumer muzikers fun Medines Yisroyel

Fishel Bresler remarks on the Jewish-Music mailing list:

A sheynem dank, Dobe!

The dance they were doing is (as I understand it) the last remnant of the old "Broiges Tanz," once done by the mothers-in-law at a wedding, now done by two guys instead, fighting (*nebech*) over a bottle...death resulting. Followed, of course, by "t'chies hameisim" *(b'ashkenazit)* - the resurrection-of-the-dead dance. It's not specifically a hassidic custom; I've been asked to play it for litvaks, too.

September 4, 2011

Kickstarter3 - bring The Other Europeans to WOMEX

If you aren't familiar with "The Other Europeans" project you have been missing one of the most exciting projects of recent years. They have a delightful CD out ("Almost Bootleg") and give one hell of an intense concert. It was one of the highlights of my life to help bring them to Boston last year and watch a thoroughly excited audience cram into Johnny D's. I'll let Alan Bern take it from here:

many of you already know about The Other Europeans ( It's a truly incredible, 14-piece band playing heartbreaking and virtuosic music that goes back to pre-WWII Bessarabia and a community of professional klezmer (Yiddish) and lautar (Gipsy/Roma) musicians who live and played together for more than a century - a rare, historical example of such close cooperation between these groups. The Other Europeans restores this almost lost heritage to the 21st century.

The project brings together some of today's greatest klezmer and lautar musicians from 8 different countries - Moldova, Hungary, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Great Britain, the Ukraine & the USA and combines historical and ethnographic research with the highest levels of musicianship. It was only possible to create with the help of funding from the European Union. But now that funding has run out. To continue to exist, we have to connect with agents and festivals and find ways to continue to tour and record. That's no small financial task for a 14-piece international ensemble.

Now we've been invited to play a showcase at the 2011 WOMEX in Copenhagen—by far the most important trade fair for world music. It's the best possible chance for us to attract just the kind of attention and support we need. But first we have to get there! We have to pay our own expenses for travel and accommodations, and we also need to launch our live double-CD at the showcase. To accomplish that, we really need your help.

Some of you are already familiar with Kickstarter. It's an internet site that lets artists raise funds for projects just like this. As a reward for their support, donors also get our music and many other interesting and unique benefits. I've set up a kickstarter campaign for The Other Europeans. If you are already a fan of The Other Europeans, or if this project sounds worthy of support to you, then I hope you'll visit the site below and contribute whatever you can—every little bit helps! Thanks to all of you in advance, and I hope that with your help we can launch The Other Europeans at the WOMEX and visit your area in the near future to play a concert. Here's the Kickstarter website:

Kickstarter2 - help the Klezmatics put out 25th Anniv tour/CD

This one is easy. After all, I already have the CD because I are the KlezmerShack. I first saw the band in the mid-90s, but the concert I remember, the one that blew my mind, was in 1996 in San Francisco at the Great American Music Hall. If you help them meet this goal, I'll tell you all about it (your preference--if you'd rather I shut up, I can do that too!). That concert helped kick off the KlezmerShack! What I will tell you now is that they started the concert with "Man in a hat," with almost as much energy as there is on the new CD. The repertoire has grown since then, and the CD features many alumni and friends. And you can take part. Here's their pitch:

To mark its silver anniversary, the band that helped bring klezmer into the 21st century is releasing Live at Town Hall, a sonic souvenir of a remarkable NYC concert. And to help promote this, the Klezmatics’ first self-produced live CD, the Grammy Award-winners are launching their very own Kickstarter campaign. Your generous donation will enable them to cover post-production costs and hire a radio promoter and media publicist to bring the recording not only to those who already love the Klezmatics and klezmer, but also to those who are entirely new to the music.

We are pleased to offer a full length track from the album for your listening pleasure on our website. Click here to listen to Lolly Lo. We'll be releasing another track next week so stay tuned.

Curious - but welcome - rerelease dept, Alicia Svigals

cd coverAbout a decade ago, Alicia Svigals recorded a pretty amazing CD of Hassidic nigunim under the name of the "Nikolayev Ensemble." In celebration of the decade since the original re-release, maven, Zalmen Goldstein did the impossible: He improved upon the original. The cover is differently cheezy, and he has renamed the bass-player known to most of us as "Marty Confurious," but the production is even better. An unrelated first track by a different ensemble is gone. Aaron Alexander's outstanding drumming was added to the tracks. The result, quite frankly, is quite delicious. If you don't have the original, or if you're ready to compare the two, check out "Chassidic Breeze" (now credited to no ensemble until you get to the website where it is, indeed, credited to the much-missed Ms. Svigals).

If you already know the recording and need read no review, you can purchase it directly from Rosh Hashanah is coming. This could be the soundtrack!

June 6, 2011

Jewgrass in Durham, NC

My old friend, Riki Friedman and her band, Freylach Time! show off some of the "Jewgrass" they've been playing the last couple of years. Riki writes: "We are playing a fusion of the 2 styles we like to call "Jewgrass". There were a lot of problems with the sound system, so it's hard to hear the violin and accordian, but this still gives a good idea of what we have been doing. (Other than the corsets, which were special for this event.)"

April 4, 2011

Jake Shulman-Ment Romanian Klezmer Tour fundraiser

I avoid passing on requests for funds, but the people involved in this project are very special, and they've even gotten a token bit of my own non-existent funds.

Dear Friends,

Thanks to you and your wonderfully generous and supportive responses, we're well on our way to funding this concert tour of Romania! I just wanted to send out a little reminder in case there's anyone who is still planning to donate and/or help spread the word about the project. It's not too late!! Take a look on the Kickstarter link below for updates.

The fundraising drive ends on May 1, and, although the Kickstarter funding goal has been reached, we actually need quite a bit more to make it all happen.

Thanks again for everything, and I hope to see you soon,

February 13, 2011

New online guide to Klezmer music

This looks really cool - song titles, cross-referenced with both recordings and music sources!. The author is from the Cornell Klezmer Band, as well a member of the new upstate NY band, Mitzfits.

I just posted the fruits of many hours of labor to, a comprehensive cross-reference to klezmer recordings and sheet music sources.

For questions (the author asks that you not email him with questions about where to purchase or find things—he either knows, and the info is online, or he doesn't know) about the website, contact Allen Lutins

February 10, 2011

9th Annual KlezmerQuerque Fest, Albuquerque, NM, Feb 18-20

Even if I wasn't already a fan of the event, I gotta say that any event that features Yosl Kurland, Christina Crowder, and Margot Leverett is a treat.

February 18-20 (FRI-SUN over Presidents Day weekend): The 9th Annual KlezmerQuerque is Albuquerque New Mexico's 3-day festival of concerts, services, workshops and dance parties featuring ‘Klezmer’—the exciting traditional dance & music of the Eastern European Jewish people. The festival, which is produced by Congregation Nahalat Shalom, its 25-piece intergenerational Community Klezmer Band & Rikud Yiddish dance troupe, presents a wide variety of events for everyone with prices ranging from FREE to $20 per event and an ALL-EVENT early registration discount of $85-general / $70-senior, students or fixed income.

KlezmerQuerque 2011 welcomes three renowned klezmer artists & scholars who hail from New York City and New England: Joe “Yosl” Kurland (Yiddish language, song, dance & fidl - PLUS Shabbes nusach in loshn koydesh), Christina Crowder (accordion & Fulbright scholar specializing in Romanian-Jewish ethno-studies), AND the return of our dear friend the klezmer clarinet virtuoso Margot Leverett. Events include Der Freylekher Shabbes on Friday, Saturday morning learner's Shabbos service, Beginning Yiddish, SAT nite Concert & Dance, 3 music/dance sessions from 10am-5pm on Sunday, and a Lunch 'n Learn. Visit Nahalat Shalom's web site for full schedule & event details, performer bios/photos, registration form, flyer and more!!

For further info, call 505-243-6276 or email Beth Cohen.

January 17, 2011

Die Grine Kuzine on tour - the video

Touring hasn't gotten any saner since the days of "Hard Days Night." This is what it looked like to Die Grine Kuzine this year:

January 1, 2011

Klezical Tradition video

And even more from the amazing klezmer flautist and teacher, Adrianne Greenbaum—this time from her regular band, Klezical Tradition:

A couple standards, non-standards, and that adds up to four - but there are three … for your listening pleasure - I hope:

Wedding Hora

The sound of the 19th century wooden klezmer flute

Firn di Mekhuttonim

From, Adrianne, who wishes everyone a freylekhn Khanike and warm weather and thoughts if you're out on the east coast in the US or any other cold climate. Can't wait for Spring and we haven't even started….

December 31, 2010

new video: Mt. Holyoke College Klezmer Band

From klezmer flautist extraordinaire, Adrianne Greenbaum:

Please enjoy checking out a composite video I just finished of the Mount Holyoke College (really, 5-college community) Klezmer Band. Fall semester's focus was on the standards of the Belf repertoire:

NYC Premiere of new Klezmatics film, 'On Holy Ground' Jan 13 & 17, 2011

film stillAnnouncing the New York premier screenings of The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground. January 13 and 17, Walter Reade Theater, Lincoln Center. Part of the New York Jewish Film Festival.

The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground
Germany/Hungary/Israel/Poland/USA, 2010; 106m

Director Erik Greenberg Anjou (A Cantor’s Tale, 2006) returns with this high-energy documentary about the Grammy Award-winning, New York-based Yiddish roots band, The Klezmatics. Live performances are mixed with soulful interviews with band members as well as other performers including Joshua Nelson, Chava Alberstein and Theodore Bikel. Anjou and crew followed the Klezmatics for over four years capturing the band’s highs, lows, and relentless march forward.

December 28, 2010

Music with which to pass time at airport delays

Aeropuerto de Tucumán. Octubre 24, 2010 -17:00 hs|

El domingo 24, un vuelo de LAN que venía a Tucumán tuvo una demora, y un grupo de músicos pertenecientes al grupo KBB (Klezfiesta Buenos Aires Band, orquesta recién creada que debutó en la 3er. edición de EMMKA /Klezfiesta) comenzó a tocar música klezmer. Los artistas regresaban a Buenos Aires luego de haber realizado un concierto klezmer en el teatro San Martín. Sin duda, le dieron vida al hall del aeropuerto como pocas veces se pudo ver.

Jewish music to protest at Tucuman Airport (Argentina) Sunday 24, October 2010 17:00 | A LAN flight coming to Tucuman was delayed, and a group of musicians belonging to the group KBB,(Buenos Aires Klezfiesta Band, orchestra which debuted recently, that was created for the 3rd. EMMKA / Klezfiesta) started playing klezmer music . The artists returned to Buenos Aires after having made a klezmer concert at the Teatro San Martin. Without doubt, that gave life to the hall of the airport that rarely saw something like this. /

December 25, 2010

New releases from Sy Kushner

cd coverWith most people who release new CDs or music books, I am only one disk or so behind. In the last couple of years, Sy Kushner has been pouring forth an amazing array of pent-up klezmer. It is all worth paying attention to, so rather than just add yet another disk to what I have taken to calling the "review or die" pile (naming backlogs doesn't seem to change the time constraints, but it makes me feel better), I would like to actively call everyone's attention to the new release, and note that this comes with music for purchase, as well. Accordionist Kushner has been making excellent klezmer since his hits with the Mark 3 Orchestra back in the 1960s. He has only gotten better and deeper.

For more info, starting with the newest release, visit NuLite Music's website.

Klutzy Klezmer: Zeek's First Klezmer Liner Note Contest

Klezmer, blogger Bert Stratton strikes again:

"Have you read any klezmer CD liner notes lately? Some are great—they read like fascinating mini-doctoral theses about Eastern Europe and/or the Lower East Side. And some are downright horrible. Too much Slivovitz has gone into the writing. Some of these homemade liner notes are best read only on Purim. (Hey, the music is often terrific, but the notes—the liner notes—are sour.)

Are you ready to write your own bad liner note? Zeek is holding a contest. The best worst klezmer liner note—as judged by Zeek Editor-in-chief Jo Ellen Green Kaiser and Bert Stratton (a.k.a. Klezmer Guy)—wins a One Ring Zero’s new Planets cd. Just submit your line in the comment section below. We’ll email you if you win, and fb it out to all our fans!

Celebrate the end of Sabbath and that other holiday with some klezmer

This rather delightful concert by Rhode Island veteran Fishel Bresler may have slipped through the cracks. On a day when just about nothing is open, and there is nothing to eat but Chinese Food (and many of us fulfilled that mitzvah last night already), check it out. If you are instead, in NYC, don't forget to check out Tzadik's "Radical Jewish Music Fest; in Chicago it's Jewmongous. Enjoy.

Fishel Bresler Klezmer Hassidic EnsembleFishel Bresler's Klezmer Hassidic Ensemble
Sat 7:30 PM, December 25th
Cong Ohawe Shalom
671 East Ave, corner of Glenwood
Pawtucket, RI

$10 for adults, $7 for (quiet) children under b-mitzvah
Refreshments for sale. Plenty free parking.

Lively & Moving Music, world class musicians, a comfortable environment, a little humor thrown in.

Funded in part by a Folk Arts Fellowship grant from the RI State Council on the Arts.

December 15, 2010

Kesselgarden plays Goldenshteyn

"Kesselgarden continues to thrive in the miserable weather one finds in the early Seattle winter. Here is a clip from a recent rehearsal, just to show that only two old guys can still put on a hell of a show. Hope all is well and peace in 2011."

December 1, 2010

Mark Rubin's video of "The Other Europeans"

Mark Rubin has posted a passel of videos from the last three years of "The Other Europeans"

"Here's a collection of videos of the "Other Europeans" project which took up a big chunk of my last 3 summers. Watching these videos, I can hardly believe I was actually there when this all happened."

View the whole series of several concerts on his blog, Chasing the Fat Man.

Readers of earlier posts will also remember that I put up the video from the band's Amherst, MA concert: National Yiddish Book Center on YouTube (clip below)

November 28, 2010

9th Festival of Jazz and Klezmer in Paris

festival posterLancement du IXème Festival Jazz'N'Klezmer à partir du 21 novembre 2010.

This started last week and I missed it. There is an amazing line-up throughout December, though, including David Krakauer on Dec 13. Check it out!

November 26, 2010

Weimar Winter Workshops announced, Jan 23 - Feb 9, 2011

What is Winter Edition? It is a path-breaking institute for the study of music improvisation with an interdisciplinary and intercultural approach. Teachers and students from around the world join in an open, evolving exploration of the connections between improvisation, musical tradition, communication, cognition, the voice, the body and awareness. Led by Alan Bern and an outstanding international faculty, Winter Edition is a learning community: a place for taking new risks, acquiring new skills and information and for making new personal and professional relationships. In past years, Winter Edition has focused on how to discover musical intentions and communicate them in various group improvisations settings. In 2011 it takes a new turn in order to complement the work on musical impulses, awareness and communication with intensive work on practical skills in rhythm, harmony and melody. The theme of Winter Edition 2011 is Techné: Craft & Creativity. In ancient Greek, techné meant multi-faceted craftsmanship, the kind of knowledge necessary to make something, as opposed to purely theoretical knowledge. For many musicians today, though, "technique" (deriving from techné) means only physical mastery of their instrument. This narrowed conception reflects the loss of many skills that belong to musical mastery, such as being able to hear and freely create harmonic, melodic and rhythmic material in real time. The purpose is not to return to any particular musical language, but to increase the range and freedom of musical expression. The workshops will be led by a great team of artists and teachers with a lot of experience and many approaches to the work of integrating creativity and craft. The various workshops that make up Winter Edition are for instrumentalists and vocalists, from advanced students to professionals, who want to develop their creativity through an intensive exploration of improvisation, awareness, and deepening fundamental musical skills. For further info:

October 18, 2010

Review: Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys live at "Hardly Strictly Bluegrass" Oct 1-3

San Francisco's Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival, held a few weeks ago from Oct 1-3, was also notable this year from including some well-known klezmer stars. I'm not surprised. In addition to Leverett's wonderful work (have I mentioned in the last few days that Leverett's most recent CD features Jorma Kaukonnen and Hazel Dickinson?), I should remind Bay Area folks of Sacramento's Freilachmakers who have their own new Celtic-Klezmer fusion CD out. This post, however, belongs to Julie Egger of the Red Hot Chachkas who writes about Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys earlier this month at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass:

Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a music festival that is one of the biggest in the Bay Area. I went yesterday, once again, expecting some bluegrass, some rock and roll, Emmylou Harris and Earl Scruggs, but what I got, was Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys. As another Klezmer musician with The Red Hot Chachkas, I have known Margot for many years, Klez Camp, classes, etc. but to get a hit of Klezmer at Hardly Strictly was an amazing surprise. I left my husband and friends, who I had come with, at the Rooster Stage and weaved my way through the throngs down to the Porch Stage.

Margo outdid herself. Her music was amazing, and yes, it is a combination of Klezmer and Bluegrass, and that may be her in in this festival, but it was definitely Klezmer, or what we are struggling to call it these days.

My band, The Red Hot Chachkas, just got back from playing the Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto and networking with the most amazing Jewish musicians of our time, Adrienne Cooper, Michael Alpert, Alan Bern, Frank London, to name a few. It was an amazing festival and the music that is being created is, as we are struggling with calling it, New Klezmer, or Klezmer fusion, or New Jewish Music, is the next generation of Jewish music. This is not your Bubbe’s Klezmer

With access to music from all over the world, Klezmer and Jewish music is being fused with world music of all genres. This is where we are headed. We are the next generation of Jewish musicians playing New Jewish music. I feel honored to be part of this revolution.

But to see Margot at Hardly Strictly was even more amaz\ing because she is taking her music to the mainstream. I know Ashkenaz is an incredible festival , but to be part of a mainstream festival will get our music out to those who have never heard it before. There are so many times I tell people what kind of music I play and they have never heard of it. Think of the thousands now, (and there were at Hardly Strictly) that now have a new knowledge of klezmer, and with Margot’s amazing chops via Sid Beckerman she plays like the true Klezmer player she is, with a twist.

At one point, I got about 20 people to dance around the lawn, Yiddish style. I wanted to get the whole crowd up on their feet but as I went around I looked at faces, and it may be a projection on my part, but it looked like a great deal of them had never heard this type of music before. It was amazing, and they clapped and loved it. In fact, at one point, Margot got the audience to sing along with Yiddish syllables (di, di, di). They all did it.

I don’t know if others around the country or around the world have seen Klezmer in the mainstream such as this, \ but in my little neck of the woods, this is revolutionary, and will open doors for the rest of us Klezmer players. We need to get out of the ghetto.

Thank you to Margot for pursuing this and moving the revolution forward. We will all benefit, especially since her playing is of excellent caliber, so the impression to those who do not know, will get the right idea.

Mazoltov to Margot and Warren Hellman for featuring her at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass

October 16, 2010

New reviews by Michael Regenstreif

Jewish-Music mailing list regular Mike Regenstreif has begun writing reviews of new Jewish music for the Ottawa Jewish Bulletin. He has graciously begun sending the columns to the KlezmerShack for publication online here.

In his first reviews, published last month right after the most musically diverse Ashkenaz Festival yet, he covers a couple of artists about whom I know nothing, and a couple that have been very high on the "get a review onto the KlezmerShack soon" list. Not a bad way to start:

cd cover You may have heard Israeli-born cellist Maya Beiser on NPR a few weeks ago. Here, Mike reviews her excellent new album, Provenance.

cd cover Bassist Jim Guttman has been the rock holding Boston's own Klezmer Conservatory Band together since the band's formation these many decades ago. It's taken him a long time to release a CD under his own name, and we've put up with it because his "day band," is, after all, pretty spectacular. This CD, he says, is the one he's longed to create for years, and Mike discusses what makes Bessarabian Breakdown.

cd cover Mike notes the Ashkenaz Festival debut by the Red Hot Chachkas with admiration—and well he should. I was sitting with Philadelphia drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts while they were doing their set, and Elaine was pretty admiring, herself. I've reviewed previous CDs with great pleasure. Their newest, Beats without Borders deserves everything nice that he says about it.

cd cover I've never heard of jazzman Benny Sharoni until I read Mike's review of Eternal Elixir. I would be very surprised if jazz fans don't really enjoy what they hear when they check out the bebop and ballads on the new CD.

Hankus Netsky tonight, "Klezmer and Beyond"

Chase-Netsky: photo by Susan WilsonHankus Netsky has been stretching the repertoire available in the Klezmer world for quite some time. He has also been doing more work with fellow jazz musician Linda Chase and friends. Tonight we'll get a chance to enjoy the best of both of those worlds at Newton's Temple Reyim. Show is at 8pm and the details, of course, can be found on the KlezmerShack Calendar.

KlezKamp 2010 program announced

KK 2010 logoKlezKamp 2010 will be held December 26-31, 2010 at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa in New York's Catskills Mountains.

"Our theme this year, Gilgulim/Transmigrations, celebrates not only the diverse and dynamic history of Yiddish culture on the move, but also Living Traditions' "transmigration" into the Mayrent Institute for Yiddish Culture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Please check out our online registration. Or, if you are not on our mailing list and would prefer a good old-fashioned in-your-mailbox registration brochure, drop us a line or call our office at (212) 532-8202 with your name and address. Please hurry, though: space is limited and we are already swamped with many more requests than we have seen in a number of years.

It is also our great pleasure to announce the upcoming release of The Tradition Lives: Yiddish-Moldavian Music of German Goldenshteyn. Recorded at last year's KlezKamp, the new CD has material our late and beloved teacher and friend German Goldenshteyn chose for his first recording and for a proposed Volume II, and honors the great music and inspired playing he shared with us.

As with our other LT CDs, we look for support from our KlezKamp community to issue this critically important recording. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation for the production and release of this CD in time for this year's KlezKamp. Donations are tax-deductible and can be made by check to Living Traditions Inc. or online with a credit card. All donors will be listed in the record notes and, as with our previous German Goldenshteyn CD and books, a percentage of the profits are shared with the Goldenshteyn family.

July 26, 2010

Stempenyu's Neshome - new soul from Steven Greenman now available

cd coverWhile I am on the subject of New Jewish Music, with an emphasis on new music worth hearing, let me note that Steven Greenman's latest release, an amazing blend of klezmer, nign, and classical feeling is now available from, with samples. It features several compositions by midwestern violin maestro Greenman, along with his playing, accompanied by the likes of Alan Bern (Brave Old World) and Pete Rushefsky. It's been on my current rotation for several weeks now and isn't going anywhere. There is some very deep music here. I don't think I'll get tired of it anytime soon. (Fair disclosure: I typeset the CD notes, so cannot be regarded as entirely unbiased unless you consider that I only work on projects that I am very much in love with and manage to hit during the very rare instances when I have time to work on them—the former criterion being the one that's relevant here.)

July 18, 2010

The Klezmer Shul - davenning klezmer style

This past Thursday night this year's Paper Bridge festival was closed out by Veretski Pass performing the East Coast premiere of their new improvisational piece, "The KlezmerShul."

It wasn't klezmer. There was lots of classical, cantorial, jazz music. It was intense and wonderful. Here is the closing movement (I posted the two movements under 10 minutes, plus all of the QA sessions, on YouTube):

You can catch the entire concert from the Internet Archive at


July 15, 2010

"Branches" bridges old and new at Paper Bridge fest

Those of us (and the house was pretty full, so it wasn't a small crowd filling out the National Yiddish Book Center's new auditorium--I'd give you the donors' names, but the new NYBC website seems particularly opaque on such details) who attended the Amherst debut of Hankus Netsky's new band, "Branches" on Monday night had a subversively pleasant evening.

"Branches," includes Hankus on piano (Klezmer Conservatory Band founder and, as Dr. Netsky, head of the NYBC's "Discovery" Project), KCB regulars Andy Blickenderfer on bass, cello, and banjo; and Yaeko Mirando Elmaleh on violin; along with Hankus' jazz ensemble, "Another Realm" co-conspirator Linda Jaye Chase on flute and bass clarinet; and Hebrew College cantorial student Jessica Kate Meyer on vocals, harmonium, and percussion. You couldn't ask for a much more professional, tighter sounder group of folks for a pleasant evening in Amherst. Augmenting everything was the core of NYBC interns (and audience members) who took advantage of the floor space to indulge in "Yiddish" (Eastern European Jewish) folk dancing. The group started off with some traditional klezmer, but it quickly became clear that this was traditional music, but not the old same repertoire. Instead, Hankus mixed in pieces that he had gathered as part of the Center's "Discovery" project, as well as less-well-known pieces by that generation of Second Avenue songsters who had drawn on traditional music and made it American. We got to hear wonderful music that sounded familiar, but was still new to most of us.

Once the audience was warmed up, Hankus moved farther afield, including pieces from "Another Realm," including two wonderful pieces by flautist Linda Chase, one inspired by a poem by Itzik Manger, read simultaneously in Yiddish and English by Netsky and Chase; and another inspired by an earlier poem by the Sufi mystic Rumi. Again from "Another Realm" (I think—I forgot to check) was a new middle eastern piece by Hankus. Closing out, the ensemble returned to the familiar-sounding Yiddish and klezmer. As they played, my audience companions would turn to each other and to me, smiling that "this is hot shit" smile.

What made the concert special wasn't just wonderful music wonderfully played—it was the way that Hankus continues to broaden the repertoire of traditional music, expanding ears, and in a way, legitimizing further the boundary-pushing music of a younger generation of musicians such as The Lithuanian Empire or Daniel Kahn & Painted Bird. It's not a static canon, nor does the music come from a tradition that is disappearing—at least, not disappearing yet, and if the musicians or Monday night's audience have anything to say about it, clearly not disappearing anytime soon.

Tonight, of course, is the East Coast premiere of the new Veretski Pass piece, "Klezmer Shul," as suitable to close the festival as "Branches" was to open the festival—the one to open by showing that the culture that the Center has preserved is alive and well; and tonight to seal a future is even more open-ended and exciting than we imagined a few days ago. חזק חזק ונתחדש!

July 11, 2010

Ezekiel's Wheels on YouTube

As I wrote last week, this performance of Ezekiel's Wheels last weekend at the LilyPad was the culmination of a week of great music. I taped the whole thing on a Flip camera, and the bandmembers edited it down and put segments up on YouTube. The band, playing to a full house, was joined by several friends onstage, and great fun was had by all:

July 1, 2010

From Cooper and Lerner to Ezekiel's Wheel - a week of good music and not done yet

This past Sunday I found myself in New York City. I did the obvious and caught Adrienne Cooper and Marilyn Lerner at the City Winery brunch, way off on the West Side of town where I hadn't been since visiting a college friend at her father's print shop--Varick Street was once the center of printing in Manhattan.

Not only did I run into several friends, but the music was superb. The repertoire was a varied as one would hope for—older, less-well-known Yiddish songs, new ones, and a taste of Cooper and Lerner's settings of the poetry of Anna Margolin. I could listen to Adrienne Cooper sing for hours and days. I have to say likewise for listening to the improvisational piano playing of Marilyn Lerner, here extending from the instrumental music recorded on her most recent Jewish music CD, Roumanian Fantasy, to her incredible interplay with Cooper. Watching them both was a treat.

Brunch at City Winery is a major step up from the tiny old Tonic (which wasn't even offering food in the last years of its Sunday brunch series). The space is huge, and clean, and the waitstaff are attentive. But, I gotta say that Sunday brunch needs to feature food that is better than "okay." It is not painful to eat there, and the coffee is good, but I can't imagine anyone waking up and saying, "I can't wait to eat at the City Winery again, and boy, wouldn't it be great to take the family out and listen to XXX." For the music, you can't do better. But for the food, you'll always be thinking, "couldn't I be eating someplace else?"

I was sorely tempted to stay in NYC to catch Mycale that night, and really, really wanted to hear Greg Wall's Ain Sof Arkestra Monday night. Too bad on my part, as Greg writes:

The Ayn Sof Arkestra and Bigger Band played Monday night to a packed house and kicked hard! The Jewish Week wrote a nice preview and that helped. Interesting mix of folks in the audience—young, older, secular, frummies, and a bunch of musicians as well.

My consolation? I was back here in time to attend the first gig by the KlezWoods at Johnny D's. I've written about this band a few times—usually I see them at Atwoods Tavern in Cambridge at one of their Sunday night gigs. Dana Westover, who has a great Sunday afternoon world folk show on WUMB interviewed them last week, and got them this gig. It was smoking. If ever there was a band ready to be playing to people who are actually paying attention and are ready to dance, it's KlezWoods.

There were 10 people on stage, including Grant Smith, drummer for the Klezmer Conservatory Band and a wide range of projects including balkan and other world music; and Michael McLaughlin—Dr. McLaughlin to most of us—who plays accordion and keyboards for Shirim, Naftule's Dream, and some wonderful avant garde-ish bands. Joe Kessler, the band instigator was there hopping around and playing his battered electric teal violin. There was electric guitar and stand-up bass and trombone and trumpet and Becky Wexler on clarinet, Alex Spiegelman (sp?) on sax, all playing this wonderful soup of klezmer/balkan/funk/jam band music that was so perfect for dancing that you had people bopping around in usual north american style on stage while others were carefully weaving a line of Balkan steps.

'Nuff said. The band has a CD out in a couple of months. It may or may not be great. They appear around town. Time to catch them live.

And finally, the week not being over yet, I expect to see the same faces at the Lily Pad, in Inman Square, on Saturday night at 10pm when Ezekiel's Wheels hold forth. Big fun expected.

June 26, 2010

Stages Klezmer Paris - 2010 du 5 au 9 juillet 2010 / From July 5 until July 9, 2010

promo image for festivalN'attendez plus pour vous inscrire !


Du 5 au 9 juillet 2010

Pour la huitième année consécutive, ces quatre cursus parallèles et intensifs s’adressent aux intéressés de tous âges, du niveau intermédiaire au niveau professionnel. De nombreuses passerelles permettent à chacun de découvrir l’étendue de ce folklore particulièrement riche ou de parfaire ses connaissances (cours dispensés en français et en anglais).

Au programme : ateliers, conférences, master classes, jams, spectacles ... certaines animations seront ouvertes au grand public. Et pour les juniors de 7 à 17 ans, un projet pluridisciplinaire : « le grand cirque klezmer »…

Informations et inscriptions auprès d'Estelle au 01 47 00 14 00 ou par e-mail

Maison de la culture yiddish – Bibliothèque Medem
18, passage Saint-Pierre Amelot F - 75011 PARIS
Tél. : + 33 1 47 00 14 00 / fax : + 33 1 47 00 14 47
Métro : Oberkampf (lignes 5 et 9), Richard Lenoir (ligne 5), Filles du Calvaire (ligne 8)
Bus : 56 et 96 (arrêt : Oberkampf), 20 et 65 (arrêt : Saint-Sébastien Froissart)

Continue reading "Stages Klezmer Paris - 2010 du 5 au 9 juillet 2010 / From July 5 until July 9, 2010" »

June 24, 2010

The Other Europeans, Somerville, MA, 31 Aug 2010


I have been remiss in posting this, but for the first time I can claim to have played a useful role in bringing a concert to the Boston area. If it had to be a first time, this is definitely the group to bring.

The Other Europeans is an amazing project fusing Lautari and klezmorim, playing amazing traditional music and very new, very powerful fusion. The band will be at Johnny D's, my favorite spot for dance music, on Tuesday, August 31. Anything people can do to help bring a crowd will be appreciated. Please help us get the word out. If they don't play to a packed house, it won't be nearly as much fun (and boy will it be hard to bring them back, or bring the next unknown band this exciting).

You can help. Download a flyer and post it. Share it with friends.

June 21, 2010

Yeshivas Goldenshteyn live at Northwest Folklife fest

You don't know from Yeshivas Goldenshteyn? You're in for a treat.

Yeshivas Goldenshteyn's performance at the 2010 Northwest Folklife Festival (4 of 7 videos already online, the rest should be online within the next few hours) at "professormobesser" on YouTube:

June 19, 2010

KlezKamp Roadshow, Poyntelle, PA, Jul 7-14, 2010

imageSpend an incredible week July 7 - 14, 2010 as a part of the Klezkamp Roadshow at the Block and Hexter Vacation Center in Northeastern, PA. The famous KlezKamp program of Yiddish music, dance, arts and language returns to BHVC for a week of lectures, participation, and performances.


  • Henry Sapoznik—Cantors, Klezmorim and Crooners 1905-1953

  • Pete Sokolow—The Alef, Beyz, Gimel of Klezmer

  • Susan Leviton—Jewish Life In Art and Song

  • Michael Wex—Born To Kvetch

  • Jill Gellerman—Simcha Dancing: Secular or Sacred?

The price is just $705 double per person or $1,000 single occupancy.
The rate includes:
  • Roundtrip bus transportation from select locations in the New York area

  • Comfortable accommodations: Double, single and arranged shares, private bath and daily housekeeping

  • Scrumptious Glatt Kosher meals, with choice of entree & snacks

  • Exciting classes taught by the faculty of Living Traditions

  • Heated Pool/Jacuzzi/Boating

  • Tennis/Handball/Golf nearby

  • Fitness center open all day w/Complimentary personal training

  • Crafts/Painting/Computer Classes

  • Nightly activities and concerts—Including Klezmer Dance Party

Associated Camps, Inc., Block and Hexter Vacation Center
1-800-400-1924 / fax: 973-276-3188
Poyntelle, PA

June 12, 2010

Name that tune

As is usually the case with a non-musician, I can place this tune, but can't name it. Can anyone help?

I'm an Israeli composer and pianist. I used to go to NEC, but now I'm doing a scholarship year in Berlin. I'm contacting you because I have a klezmer band here, and we're playing some tunes, some of which we don't know the composer and name of tune. I attached here the mp3 with the tune. If you recognize it, can you tell me what it is?


We are putting together a demo CD with a few tunes and would really like to put correct information.

Thanks very much in advance,
Osnat Netzer

May 12, 2010

Thinking "Metropolitan Klezmer"

CD coverThis is a short post—I just don't have time to reduce it to twitter length (follow my occasional tweets at "@klezmershack").

One of the big pleasures of having iTunes on my laptop (esp. since I haven't been able to afford an iPod or similar mp3 player) is putting the whole thing on shuffle so that John Zorn segues to Jewlia Eisenberg to the Klezmatics. Every so often I hear something so good, but I can't place it. I stop what I am doing and take a look so that I can get in some additional listens. This afternoon it was Metropolitan Klezmer—the incomparable Deborah Karpel on "Ot azoy neyt a shnayder" with this crisp, celebration of brass and drums and everything behind her.

Often, life is good.

March 28, 2010

Yiddish Summer Weimar 2010 now online

yiddishkeit at Yiddish Summer Weimar 2010

Alan Bern announces the Yiddish Summer Weimar program, with several week-long workshops running from July 4 through Aug 2, 2010:

The website for Yiddish Summer Weimar 2010 is now online:

Celebrating our 10th anniversary, this summer's overall topic is yidishkayt. The advanced vocal workshop topic is unaccompanied Yiddish folksong repertoire & style, led by Michael Alpert, Ethel Raim and Itzik Gottesman. The advanced klezmer workshop topic is non-dance repertoire & style, led by Zev Feldman, Josh Horowitz, Cookie Siegelstein, Stu Brotman, Steven Greenman, Michael Winograd, and others. We'll also conduct a 3-day seminar for professional Yiddish dance teachers & musicians led by Zev, Sue Foy, Christian Dawid and Jake Shulman-Ment, aimed at developing a unified dance/dance music culture based on the more gestural style of dancing practiced by Zev. For more information about these workshops and others, I invite you to check out the website. Best wishes to all, Alan Bern

Review of new Moshe Berlin CD

CD coverReview of the new Moussa Berlin CD, just in time for Pesakh, "זמירות וניחוחות מבית אבא" ("Psalms and scents from the house of father"). Review is in Hebrew:

ניחוחות וזמירות מבית אביו של מוסא ברלין, March 2, 2010.

March 22, 2010

KlezKanada 2010, Aug 16-22 - Registration now open!

KlezKanada logo

Register now for KlezKanada 2010!
August 16th to 22nd

KlezKanada is preparing for its 15th year! We are in the midst of finalizing our 2010 faculty and creating a week of world-class programming. Each year we present an incredibly talented faculty and exciting new programming while still ensuring the atmosphere you love. This year is no exception—our program highlights this year are truly not to be missed!

Register now online

Continue reading "KlezKanada 2010, Aug 16-22 - Registration now open!" »

March 20, 2010

Mardi Gras Day, French Quarter, New Orleans, German Goldenshteyn tune

How far behind is the KlezmerShack in reading correspondence? By us, it's still Mardi Gras in New Orleans, as you can see from this video supplied by the always-amazing Mark Rubin standing in with Panorama Jazz Band. We may let ourselves remain stuck in Mardi Gras for a while.

March 19, 2010

Review of Klezmatics in Somerville, MA

Attending my long-standing March "must-see" Balkan night last weekend, I not only missed the last events of the Boston Jewish Music Festival, but also missed one of my favorite bands in the world—

It was still a terrific show. I brought my 10 year old son, who had a blast. Despite the loss of someone apparently close to them all, they performed with humor and energy. It was not quite up to the MFA show of a couple of years back, but it was still among the best performances I have seen.

Two of the highlights of the concert were "Ki Loy Nue" and a rousing version of "Ale Brider." Joshua Nelson did a funny and original piece called "I Want to Be a More Observant Jew" during the encore. If there was a featured player during the evening, it was Matt Darriau, who played alto sax most of the time and soloed with Joshua Nelson on two different pieces. He was on. As I wrote before—it was a terrific concert—the melodies are still running though my head, and the energy from Saturday night still puts a spring in my step.

February 3, 2010

"Beyond the Pale" podcast

Beyond the PalePostcards, by Beyond the PalePerhaps pre-celebrating the California tour of Beyond the Pale this week, Keith Wolzinger announces Klezmer Podcast 60, featuring Eric Stein and Beyond The Pale. It is available on the website, iTunes, and Blubrry

Two US Jewish Music Fests Imminent--Klezmerquerque, KlezCalifornia

If you are anywhere in the Southwest, you must make your way to Albuequerque weekend after next to join Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss and a stellar class of local and imported teachers and musicians at the 12th Annual "KlezmerQuerque" (my all-time favorite festival name). Find out more at the Cong. Nahalat Shalom website:

Klezcalifornia logoOn the other hand, if you are California Dreamin', what could be better than checking out the new Veretski Pass "The Klezmer Shul" on Feb 14 as part of the grand KlezCalifornia extravaganza which runs from Feb 12-15. Questions? 415.789.7679.

January 30, 2010

Best historic Jewish music recording release yet - now available!

Mark Rubin puts it much better than I can:

CD coverYou checked this out? It's friggin' AWESOME. No foolin'. Best sounding and curated Jewish release I've yet encountered. Belf sounds like he's playing in your front room.

… They've already moved 5000 copies and are headed to a second pressing, which is a pretty big number for a box set especially these days. I think Henry just did the track annotations on it, with Chris King doing the clean ups and Sherry Mayrent writing what could be the best introductory notes I've seen in a good long while. It's her baby as far as I know. And I hear there's already talk of a second volume. Seriously holmes, this is a must have set even if you think you've already heard it before, you ain't heard 'em like this.

Pick up your copy from and help support the KlezmerShack.

November 29, 2009

Sandra Layman in Seattle, WA

This is a very rare public performance by one of the most wonderful klezmer violinists out there. If you're in the area, it's worth stopping by!

Sandra Layman CD, Little BlakckbirdYou're invited!

Sandra Layman will be performing with the Seattle Jewish Chorale and Kesselgarden at a free event on Sunday afternoon, November 29, between 2:00 and 5:00 pm, Barnes and Noble bookstore at University Village, NE Seattle.

It's a "pre-Hanukkah" event, with beautiful choral singing (including a lovely song for women's voices with violin), interludes of rousing klezmer music, and Hanukkah sing-alongs. Drop by, and bring the kids!

It's finally available -- at a special low price for the holiday gift-giving season -- the downloadable (MP3) version of my CD, "Little Blackbird"! Preview and buy it at: Little Blackbird

November 26, 2009

"Rejoicing" - a recording worth mentioning on Thanksgiving Day

cd coverI try not to let visitors see my office, where the piles of CDs awaiting review stun me. But, today is Thanksgiving. We've set the table, Judy is working on some pies with a niece, and it's time for me to express holiday feelings by catching up with a few of the recordings that have been on my "this is wonderful. spread the word." list for a while. Foremost among these is this stunning 2005 recording by Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer: "Rejoicing: Yiddish Songs & Klezmer Music." If you do not have a copy, you will want one now, and you'll probably want to get copies as Hanukkah gifts. In that case, don't let me stop you from ignoring my review and ordering directly from I'll encapsulate what I said in a few words: "Never miss a chance to hear Strauss-Warschauer Duo perform. Never be without their CD. It's as important as chicken soup."

November 20, 2009

25th Annual KlezKamp registration opens

KlezKamp 200925th Anniversary
A Fertl Yurhundert KlezKamp
KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program
December 23-29, 2009/5770
< ahref="">

This is to announce the opening of registration for A Fertl Yurhundert KlezKamp, our 25th anniversary program to be held at the Hudson Valley Resort and Spa from December 23–29. This year's program features a faculty of over 45 of the world's greatest exponents of traditional and contemporary Yiddish culture.

We invite you to follow us on Facebook and get regular updates about our upcoming event. For more information about the program register online at our KlezKamp website. We look forward to seeing you this coming December at KlezKamp 25.

Henry Sapoznik

September 13, 2009

Ben Bresky interview of Tim Sparks

from Ben Bresky:

Can Non-Jews Play Klezmer? Tim Sparks does on his new CD

cd coverCan a Gentile play Jewish music? Which is more Jewish? Barbra Steisand's Christmas album or Tim Sparks' klezmer album? Find out in this in depth interview with non-Jewish jazz guitar virtuoso Tim Sparks on his new CD 'Little Princess', which gives Naftule Brandwein, the 1920s king of the klezmer clarinet, a smooth instrumental jazz treatment.

Click here for mp3 podcast download

Article on Israel's "Oy Division"

Israeli radio's Ben Bresky sent me this a couple of months ago. It's still a good article about an interesting band:

Israeli Klezmer Revival Band 'Oy Division' Rocks Tel Aviv by Ben Bresky, Jun 10, 2009

If you think a club in Tel Aviv is no place to find a rocking acoustic klezmer band, then think again. On any given night, Oy Division is playing to an enthusiastic group of young Israelis. The rockers, jazz musicians, and world beat singers who make up the group have never done Jewish-oriented material before. But they’re now dedicated to the music their grandparents played, as demonstrated on their new CD which features accordions, clarinets and singing in Yiddish and Russian.

Clarinet player Eyal Talmudi talked about the group's thoughts on klezmer, Yiddish culture in Israel and their unprecedented Rolling Stones cover on Israel National Radio's 'The Beat with Ben Bresky.'

Full article including video and photos.

September 7, 2009

2nd Argentinian KlezFiesta, Buenos Aires, Nov 7-15, 2009

Ya esta llegando la 2º Edición de la Klezfiesta, y esta año llega recargado!!!
Próximamente recibirás información de los lugares y horarios de las presentaciones.

Buenos Aires
Del 7 al 15 de Noviembre de 2009


Pix from First Jerusalem Klezmer Fest at beginning of August

Posted by Binyomin Ginzberg to the Jewish Music list last month—I'm just catching up now:.

[H]ere are some pictures and video from the first Jerusalem Klezmer Festival Itzik posted about. The accompanying text is in Hebrew.

More about the event (also in Hebrew).

There was also a book of Klezmer sheet music "Nishmat Haklezmorim—The Soul of Klezmer" released to coincide with the festival. I don't have much information about the song contents, but I do know that it includes the repertoire of the Jerusalem klezmorim and contains traditional dance melodies for the Bottle Dance, Tkhias Hameysim Dance, and more.

It has many photos and the text in translated into six languages. I did some of the English translations including forewords by Mousa Berlin and Giora Feidman.

I haven't seen the book yet—I wasn't at the festival—but I anticipate getting one soon, at which point I'll have more information about the contents, should anyone be interested.

Good listening from KlezKanada

Every year I end up leaving KlezKanada with a bit more music than I arrived with. This means that the trip home in the car is especially fun. This year, there were few new CDs, but what was there represented, I think, the diversity and depth of this "Naye Dor" (new generation) that was on display at the great concert at camp.

cd coverThe hit of the pack is clearly this new CD by violinist Jake Shulman-Ment. Called אַ רעדעלע / A Wheel, his violin work is superb as he plays fairly traditional klezmer, with a few Yiddish vocals, all with a very pre-America European feel that is nicely complemented with tsimbl work by both NY's Pete Rushefsky and Cleveland's Alex Fedoriouk. Will this setting of Linestski's poem replace the Jerry Garcia song of similar name? Perhaps! In songs, as with life, the wheel keeps turning. This album? I'll be listening to it for a while. Pick up your copy at

cd coverShulman-Ment is involved in several bands. It is rare to see a klezmer- or Yiddish-related concert of interest in NYC that doesn't feature him, these days. One of his many side projects is a "transylvanian" folk band called "Metrofolk." Not knowing what I had in hand, I happened to swap it out in the car's CD player with an early Muzsik´s CD. For a few seconds I wondered if I had mistakenly left the first CD in place. Billed as "Traditional Gypsy, Hungarian, Romanian, and Jewish folk music and songs from Transylvania, freshly interpreted on the streets and subways of New York City," this first release, "Renegades of Folk" is a delight. Vocalist Kata Harsaczki is a lovely find. Shulman-Ment fiddles like a soul on fire. Pete Rushefsky makes a cameo on tsimbl, er, cimbalom. The repertoire includes some specificly Jewish songs from the region along with a host of other songs and tunes. The literal translation from Hungarian, "I smoked and burned my mouth" and "My heart aches inside and out" add piquancy. This is a fun album, and also available from

cd coverAnd now for something completely different. Fans of New Orleans' Panorama Jazz Band have long been aware of Patrick Farrell's accordion playing. A recent transplant (except for during mardi gras season) to NYC, he is also a stalwart of the ever-amazing Frank London's Klezmer AllStars and Michael Winograd's klezmer ensembles. Now he has his New Orleans-style brass band, Stagger Back Brass Band and it rocks. This is the band you want to invite to your street party—to any party. It's a romp through world music as interpreted by New Orleans-style brass and it is as good as it sounds. Better. You can check out samples and pick up your own copy (and support the KlezmerShack by using this link) from the usual

cd coverOne of the elemental recordings of the Klezmer Revival was this 1978 recording by Dave Tarras, modestly titled, "Music for the Traditional Jewish Wedding," and originally released as a cassette from New York's Balkan Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Music and Song headed up by the ubiquitous Pete Rushefsky). The recording was rereleased last year? on CD, and I now have a copy that I can easily listen to on my computer. It's not that I have forgotten how good Dave Tarras is, it's that I hadn't thought about this recording for a while and was surprised how often I found myself preferring familiar songs his way. We have created new "classics," but Dave Tarras was the Master of the Jewish Clarinet. It's worth the reminder. Get your copy from the CTMD and help support Pete! Your ears, your feet, and all but jealous clarinetists within range will thank you.

cd coverOne of the pleasures of KlezKanada was sitting across the table from Toronto's Yiddish scholar, Anna Sternshis, and her kids (did we talk about the explosion of babies at KlezKanada?) and discovered that she is married to Dan Rosenberg who is responsible for several of my favorite "Rough Guide" compilation CDs. (He is also responsible for the excellent Rounder set, "The Hidden Gate: Jewish Music From Around The World"). His guide to Israeli music was reviewed on the KlezmerShack a few years ago. I thought he juggled an impossible task and caught an incredible slice of what has been interesting and innovative in that country's music. I felt that his guide to the Klezmer Revival missed some critical bands (nothing from Australia's Klezmania and, I think nothing from Canada—not even the Flying Bulgars from his own town. There were also a few cuts I would probably not have put on my own compilation. On the other hand, had I realized that there was another volume coming, the "Rough Guide to Klezmer Revolution" I might have been more excited, because this CD does capture much of the breadth of what is new and exciting in klezmer-based new Jewish music. From the Klezmatics singing "I Ain't Afraid" to South America's Moguilsevsky & Lerner—and yes, the Flying Bulgars are here, along with SoCalled and Mikveh, Margot Leverett, and Shtreiml, and David Krakauer, and Wolf Krakowski, and Oi Va Voi, and lots more from around the world. In short, pretty much everyone I was pissed at him for leaving off the first CD! This is the best sampler of what's new in the Klezmer world since last year's KlezKanada compilation. As was the case with the Israeli music CD, it isn't that I can't think of incredible artists or bands who aren't represented, but that the geographic and music span of the diversity is so well represented. If you can't have everything, this is a good starting point. Hey, it's got Dan Kahn on the cover. It's got to be good. Pick up your copy today.

cd coverI mention one last recording, from 2003, because it kept coming up in conversation. Klezmania's Freydi Mrocki was at KlezKanada this year and kept kvelling about the soundtrack to this remarkable book by someone "down under" named Arnold Zable. It's called "The Fig Tree" and features music by Klezmania, Klezmeritis, and several Greek bands from the same neighborhood. It is such a delight that it is already part of my car-driving music repertoire. If you can figure out how to get a copy from down under, you'll thank me for it. I just have to get a copy of that darn book and see what the real fuss is about.

September 6, 2009

From Joel Rubin

Pete Rushefsky pointed out that my klezmer dance set at KlezKanada with an all-star band incl. Jake Shulman-Ment, Josh Dolgin, Susan Watts, Dan Blacksberg, and Stu Brotman, has been posted to youtube in 3 parts. Here's pt. I, which will lead you to the others:

June 17, 2009

Minsker Kapelye blows me away with "Tutejsi" (The Locals)

the locals - the minsker kapelyeHere's another case of a CD arriving in today's mail. I put it on the turntable to listen to while I study a bit. Never open the books. Just keep listening. From the opening "street sounds" featuring the electronic bells of the Minsk city tower to the closing Nign sung by Samuil Linkovskiy in his 80s, this is exquisite, intricate klezmer music and yiddish song introducing an unfamiliar klezmer sound—recreated from wax cylinders in many cases; from recordings of elderly Jews in Belarus made from 1997–2008. Who knew? Much of the field research was done by Dr. Slepovitch and the late Dr. Nina Stepanskaya to whom the CD is dedicated.

The Minsker Kapelye consists of just three musicians: Dmitri Slepovitch on clarinet and other woodwinds, vocals; Tatsiana Kukel on tsimbl; Hanna Kharchanka on cello—a remarkably traditional ensemble playing traditional music as it may have been heard prior to the Holocaust and Soviet antisemitism, now revived and, at least on this recording, very lively and enlivening. The quality of the playing is extraordinary. the Belarusian alto cymbalom in the hands of Ms. Kukel is a revelation, but none of the playing is less than excellent, ranging from a classical formality to swinging dance music as the music demands.

In terms of repertoire, many of these melodies are recently recovered from wax cylinders recorded by Sophia Maggid in the '30s (1928–1938); others come from relatively modern sources, including a rousing "Ot Azey!" credited to the late German Goldenshteyn (Moldavia, Belarus, what's the difference :-)) and some brilliant rap & reggae improvisation in a lovely folk poem recorded from Hirsh Reles, the last Belarusian Yiddish writer, and, um, improvised here. It is touches like the rap, and the occasional interjection of the Minsk streetscape that help make this recording special. It is traditional music, yes, but traditional music as I enjoy it best—lovingly sung in the here and now. The title of the CD, "Tutejsi,"—The Locals, is derived from the name of a classic Belorusian novel by Yanka Kupala (so claim the liner notes—I am sadly ignorant on this score). It feels appropriate in terms of making a local (Belarusian) klezmer repertoire available to the rest of us, but also in terms of the neighborhood feel of the material. If only all neighborhood bands played this well.

The album closes with the singing of the father of Slepovitch's late research partner, singing words written by Slepovitch (from the translation in the liner notes):

I am strolling on the streets of the ghetto, / Over there, there are modern houses and new people. / And here inside and under my feet, there lives my lineage, the poets, / Who bless us with their soundless verses and songs.

The CD is lovingly produced with copious liner notes in Polish and English. You can get copies from the band's website. It's a keeper.

June 14, 2009

"Postcards" from Beyond the Pale and US tour

Postcards, by Beyond the PaleFor those who don't know yet, Beyond the Pale has released a new CD with their patented blend of traditional folk music and intricate instrumental weavings. "Postcards" is an all-too-short record of where the band is traveling now, from traditional-sounding new melodies to Windham-Hill-ish explorations of pleasing harmonies. On this outing the band also features well-known young Israeli Yiddish singer Vira Lozinsky on several vocals.

Speaking of traveling, I mention Beyond the Pale in particular because they are on a short US tour this week, starting today in Amherst at the National Yiddish Book Center. You can catch them next week in NYC (including at the Theo Bikel 85th birthday bash), and then Princeton, NJ on June 17. It is the first time I can remember them being on the US east coast so I want to let people know who are already familiar with the band, and to encourage those who haven't sampled the music yet to catch the shows.

May 31, 2009

Elizabeth Schwartz, Yale Strom, and more

A couple of clips from 2008 Radu Gabrea documentary film, "Romania, Romania: Searching For Schwartz" about which I know nothing, other than Elizabeth Schwartz (whose voice is featured on both of these particular clips) having alerted me about the YouTube videos. There is a whole series. Enjoy.

May 30, 2009

KlezKamp Roadshop Madison Dance Party

So what goes on late at night at those KlezKamp roadshows? Mark Rubin provides some documentation from last month's KlezKamp Roadshow in Madison, WI. YouTube's "byray" writes:

Part 1 of the Sunday night dance at Temple Beth Israel Center, Sunday April 19th, 2009, Madison Wisconsin. The Kamp was led by UW Artist In Residence Henry Sapoznik, who was still at the movie "His People" when the band started. Aaron Alexander on drums, Dan Blacksberg on trombone, Josh Horowitz on button accordion, Mark Rubin on bass and tuba, Cookie Segelstein on fiddle and Michael Winograd on clarinet. The dances were led by Steve Weintraub. I filmed until my arm grew sore and my feet refused to stay still. So I put down my camera and joined the dance!

Margot Leverett w/Brown University wind ensemble

For those who missed seeing Margot Leverett solo last month with some special compositions, including a new piece by Matt McGarrell of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony, there is a second chance:

Matt McGarrell's wonderful arrangement of klezmer tunes for clarinet and wind symphony. which I performed last month with the Brown University wind symphony. I love the arrangement. It was such a pleasure to work with them.

The video does look like it was recorded on cellphone, but the sound quality is decent:

April 27, 2009

Yid Vicious: Car-less Klezmer in Madison

Let me step back to Madison and Yid Vicious for a moment to present a 20 minute video of the band's participation in "Car-less" week in Madison, WI.

April 23, 2009

Klezmer Paris 2009, 6-10 July 2009

Klezmer PairsKlezmer Paris - 2009
musique juive d'Europe centrale

Faites du Klezmer !

Stage de musique instrumentale / Music workshop
Stage de chant / Song workshop
Stage de danse / Dance workshop
Stage pour juniors / Juniors classes

Du 6 au 10 juillet 2009

Simultanés et avec de nombreuses passerelles, ces quatre stages de musique juive d'Europe de l'Est
seront animés par des artistes de renommée internationale.
The four parallel courses (with common activities) - klezmer
music, Yiddish songs and nigunim, Jewish dances of Eastern
Europe and Juniors classes - are all led by internationally
known musicians.


Informations et bulletin d'inscription / information and
application form:
Tel : + 33 1 47 00 14 00 - Fax : + 33 1 47 00 14 47

April 19, 2009

KlezKamp Roadshow sells out in Madison, WI

I am the sort of person who is well known for occasionally dropping from Boston to New York for an evening, so it came as no great surprise when, finding myself in Indianapolis yesterday I drove over to Madison, WI to catch the opening concert for the KlezKamp Roadshow. Today and tomorrow the roadshow will be featuring FREE workshops with some of the best teachers to be found anywhere. I hadn't been in Madison since the last time I drove cross country, and it was an enormous pleasure to hear Yid Vicious, still a kick-ass klezmer band, punkish only in name. Their set came after a lovely performance by the Madison Yiddish Choir and included the title track off their last CD, a klezmer tribute to Balkan music (sort of—they explain it better, live) called "The Seventh Shlemiel."

This was just forspeis. Henry Sapoznik was his usual welcoming self, and the KlezKamp regulars had a grand time on stage. Michael Wex opened with one of my favorite monologues. Susan Levitan gave a too-brief taste of her Yiddish singing (which I could hear more of—I am more familiar with her work in Yiddish folk arts—I have fond memories of a paper-cutting workshop at Ashkenaz, for instance). Mr. Sapoznik, accompanied by Cookie Segelstein and Mark Rubin delivered some favorites from his "Youngers of Zion" CD, including my favorite, "I am a boarder by my wife." Sherry Mayrent played an awesome set. These days, you have to go to KlezKamp to hear her, so this was a rare, and much appreciated treat.

But these were mere distractions. Welcome, distractions, true. Had there been nothing else, I could have heard these pieces and felt the trip well-repaid. But the larger ensemble, which also featured Michael Winograd on clarinet, Dan Blacksberg on trombone, Rubin on both bass and tuba, Segelstein on fiddle, Josh Horowitz on accordion, and the incredible Aaron Alexander on poyk, rocked big time. This was a traditional klezmer show, but much of the music came from the repertoire of the late German Goldenshteyn. In my mind's eye, I can see each of the musicians add solos or fills that reminded me of why I go such distances to hear them. Watching Mark Rubin's fingers as he plays, or listening to Alexander turn a short solo into an awesome transition to the next number are the equivalent of watching a skilled set of trapeze artists as they skillfully move back and forth, now airborn, now holding up the others, always in rhythm, with an "ooh" or "ahhhh" every second.

The evening had one further bonus. The last time I was in Madison, a band member loaned me a cassette copy of the sessions of their first recording to help me finish my trip cross country. By entirely pleasant coincidence, the band has just released their latest, Dollars to Doinas, and I now have a copy to help me finish my trip cross country. Some traditions are worth repeating.

If you are near Madison, and haven't signed up for the FREE workshops, let me encourage you to do so. Space is limited. And I've got to hit the road. This is, after all, not KlezKamp, but the KlezKamp Roadshow :-).

April 5, 2009

Marty Levitt videos and CD release

Pete Rushefsky writes to the Jewish-Music list:

There's now a Youtube channel dedicated to clarinetist Marty Levitt with some great concert vids from the '80s:

For the curious, Binyomin Ginsberg notes that the trumpeter in the videos is Ken Gross.

Dave Levitt writes:

CD coverA remastered collection from the Marty Levitt Klezmer Ensemble was just released on March 31,2009 through Universal Music Group.

March 29, 2009

Mar 29 - music everywhere, especially here in Boston

Here are two disparate, very kid-friendly (and adult-friendly) Jewish music events for a rainy Sunday afternoon in the Boston area. Judy Bresler is an outstanding dance teacher (and you thought she was just a pretty voice). Shirim has been adding some new material and sounds excited about playing music all over again. More details on the KlezmerShack calendar, (or just to view USA_northeast:

  • Sunday March 29, 2009, 1:00 - 2:30 pm
    Springstep, 98 George P Hassett Drive, Medford MA
    Part of a series: Spring Sundays Workshops for Families & Children

    At the door: $8 Youth / $10 Adult

    Get ready to dance at your great grandparents' wedding! Join Hankus Netsky, clarinetist Dena Ressler, and dance caller Judy Bressler and learn line, circle, and set dances from the "Old Country"! Join in the fun and learn dances such as the Freylakhs, Bulgar, Hora, and Sher! This workshop is co-sponsored by the Boston Workmen's Circle.

    tel: 781-395-0402

  • shirimShirim Klezmer Orchestra @ The Lilypad on Mar. 29, 2009!

    Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, masters of the klezmer universe, perform a fun and infectious concert of klezmer and beyond on Mar. 29, 2:00pm at the Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, MA . Suggested donation, $10, $7/kids. Bring the kids, bring your grandmother! Be ready to move. This is music for the soul.

March 28, 2009

Yiddishe Cup, live video

Our favorite heirs of Mickey Katz, Yiddishe Cup, send out two videos from shows back in February. This one claims to be "klezmer hip hop" featuring throat singing. Beat boxing. Hip Hop. "Tsiganeshti." Jack Stratton, soloist.

And then we have "Halelujah," with Hawaiian lap steel guitar. Gerald Ross, soloist.

Budowitz videos

Two videos featuring Budowitz talking about their music, from WatchMojo

Video of Jewish Violinist Leon Schwartz

From the usual suspect—Mark Rubin, this was recorded in his living room by folklorist Itzik Gottesman. "The audio drops out a few times, but hang in there, this is the real deal straight from the master himself&hellipse;.

February 15, 2009

Josh Horowitz: Klezmer and the Hungarian Tanchaz scene

From Josh Horowitz, who's articles on the KlezmerShack, and in recent years, on his own website, are always worth reading:

If you're interested, I've just posted a partly self-critical pdf article I wrote for the Hungarian Studies Journal on the relationship of the Klezmer scene and the Hungarian Tanchaz scene. If you'd like to know some of the down and dirty, its called "If the Tune is Jewish, Why is the Style Hungarian?". Please download it for your pleasure.

The article is the published form of a paper I gave at last years' symposium at the University of Indiana. Enjoy. Josh Horowitz

February 14, 2009

American Yiddish Instrumental Fusion Music in the 1950s and 1960s

Drummer Matt Temkin writes:

I am pleased to announce to the list that I have published my masters thesis online. It is entitled American-Yiddish Fusion Music in the 1950s and '60s. 30 second musical clips are provided of the tracks that are looked into in depth. Photographs of record covers can also be seen.

February 9, 2009

Yiddishe Cup Ann Arbor performance reviewed

The lucky Jack Zaentz catches Yiddishe Cup in their annual foray to Ann Arbor, MI and writes a wonderful, detailed review.

February 7, 2009

Brazilian Klezmer band, "Zemer" on YouTube

This trio are from the Zemer group, from Rio de Janeiro. You can see also a reharsal joining samba and klezmer music. We, from Zemer, met percussionists from the School of Samba Beija Flor, one of the greatest groups of samba in Rio de Janeiro. This meeting was recorded for a documentary about a neighborhood were the first jews settled when arrived in Rio, in the 40s.

February 6, 2009

Shirim at the Lilypad this Sunday, Feb 8, 2009

Speaking of concerts not to be missed, this is the kid-friendly local one we intend to ensure we attend this weekend: shirimShirim Sunday, Feb. 8, 2009, 2:00pm The Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, MA Wash away your midwinter blues with some klezmer music, this Sunday afternoon, Feb. 8, 2:00-4:00pm at the Lilypad, 1353 Cambridge St., Inman Square, Cambridge, MA . Suggested donation, $10, $7/kids. Bring the kids, bring your mother! Be ready to move. This is music for the soul. Come see us, you won’t regret it in this intimate venue. This performance will be more music, less talk, with a few non-klezmer gems thrown in for good measure. The band will feature: me on clarinet; Gary Bohan, trumpet; Michael Mclaughlin, accordion & piano; Dan Fox, trombone; Jim Gray on tuba; Eric Rosenthal on drums! The Lilypad is not big, so get there a little early to make sure you get in (and parked). See you soon!

January 25, 2009

KlezKanada winter program deferred to mid-February in Montreal

KlezKanada logo
Announcing Winter KlezKanada at the Ben Weider J.C.C.

Musicians! Counting the days until KlezKanada 2009? Don't wait for the warm weather to brush up on your D Freygish and join us for the WInter K.K. ensemble.

Come out and play Klezmer repertoire with other musicians with the guidance of Klezkanada Faculty member Rachel Lemisch. Learn the Freylach, Hora and bulgar, as well as improvisation in a Jewish style. All instrumentalists aged 14 and up welcome. Emphasis will be on jamming and performing. Semester will culminate in a concert.

Group meets every Mon./lundi, 19h00 - 20h30, from ~Feb 17 (delayed from original start of Jan 26)

Further info at|1-21438.html, or email Rachel Lemisch.

January 20, 2009

Props to the Klezphonics

I missed a couple of great performances by our Rhode Island neighbors, the Klezphonics a couple of weekends ago, but fortunately a reporter from one of the local papers caught the music, and documented:

Beyond ‘Hava Nagila’, by Jim McGaw, 16 Jan 2009, EastBayRI

January 19, 2009

Veretski Pass t-shirts almost as good as the music

It is one of my complaints that Jewish musicians do generally uninspired t-shirts. Except for the KlezmerShack, itself, and a few bands like the Klezmatics or Yiddishe Cup or Jewlia Eisenberg, t-shirts that one might really want to wear are few and far between. For someone like me, for whom making the t-shirt fashion statement is a minor ingredient at getting myself up to the gym early in the morning, this is no trivial thing.

t=shirtThere is, however, one klezmer band whose wild, insanely good playing sets the bar. And, it is fitting that Veretski Pass should issue t-shirts worth having. I post this notice not just to encourage fans of the band's music to grab one of these custom-made, limited edition goodies before they disappear (now $20, incl. shipping), but to encourage other bands to do the same.

cd coverCheck out the Veretski Pass store, where you can purchase the t-shirt, a full-sized poster. Elsewhere on the website you will discover actual CDs of the band, including their blazing second CD, on the 10-best list of all cognoscenti, including new blogger/long-time reviewer George Robinson this past year, and even printed music! Such a deal!

"Aneinu" - new Moshe (Moussa) Berlin field recordings by Joel Rubin

This was announced this Fall by Joel Rubin, and the CD is now available at all the US outlets (, etc., as well as from Wergo, in Europe. The entire Wergo series is also available from our favorite Jewish music vendor, Simon Rutberg of Hatikvah Music. E-mail Simon for an excellent deal on all or parts of the series (or any other Jewish music).

cd coverWe are pleased to announce the release of the 11th production in the Wergo Jewish Music Series, edited by Joel Rubin and Rita Ottens:

Aneinu! Hasidic-Orthodox Music from the Festival of the Torah in Jerusalem, featuring the Moshe "Moussa" Berlin Ensemble (Schott Wergo SM 1628-2).

The CD received a German Record Critics' Prize (4th Quarter 2008). It was released in the US on Dec. 9 2008, coinciding (approximately) with Moussa's 70th birthday.

Aneinu! contains repertoire from the Israeli hasidic-orthodox klezmer tradition. The field recordings of Israel's preeminent klezmer clarinetist, Moussa Berlin, were made by ethnomusicologist Joel Rubin in the Beit Ha-Rav Kook yeshiva in Jerusalem during the Second Hakafot ceremony celebrating the end of the holiday Simchat Torah in 1992. They show the vital role that the music of the klezmorim and the ecstatic singing of nigunim (melodies of spiritual elevation) play among orthodox Jews, displaying at the same time a microcosm of the variety of ethnic and cultural influences to be found in the musical traditions of Israel today. Accompanied by electric guitar, synthesizer and drums, Berlin's clarinet melds with the ecstatic, impassioned, loud and exuberant singing of the students of the yeshiva.

January 18, 2009

Some recent reviews of interest by Elliott Simon

While I am catching up, it is long past time to note several new posts of interest by Elliott Simon, from All About Jazz:

Nicely done!Let's start with a review of David Buchbinder's brilliant collaboration with Cuban musician Hilario Durán, Odessa/Havana.

… Partnering with Cuban pianist Hilario Duran, Buchbinder has created more of a symphonic statement that extols the best of both genres [Cuban/Jewish]. While some pieces clearly ring more Latin than Jewish and vice versa, others blend aspects of both musics into a holistic experience that highlights the commonalities while celebrating the differences….

CD coverIf, like me, you are as captivated by Balkan brass rhythms as by klezmer, you will be very interested in Simon's review of this new entry from Seattle: Orkestar Zirkonium.

… This is great "tukhes" shaking music with a depth of composition and style that keeps it from becoming cartoonish—Orkestar Zirkonium is the real deal.

cd coverFinally, and sticking closer to home, Simon catches the latest of a series of Israeli jazz artists who have come to call New York their home, Introducing Omer Klein

… an Israeli-American jazz connection … has produced a culture of premier artists who have gone on to influence the broader jazz community. Pianist Omer Klein is part of a second wave of these musicians who mix virtuosity, world music sensibility and melodic flair to affect a global sound….

New Wolzinger reviews, from Polish Klezmer to Canadian Yiddish Art Song

I am so very behind in posting reviews by Keith Wolzinger, who continues to release new podcasts and reviews, regardless. Let me start to catch up with some very special ones:

I'm not happy with that Hebrew font used that way, but otherwise a nice coverIt's hard for me to imagine a more pretentious name for a Yiddish art song CD than "A Song is Born," especially when the haunting sound of didgideroo is heard in the opening bars. But Mitch backs it up. The former director of Toronto's acclaimed Ashkenaz Festival got some of his (and mine!) favorite musicians from around the world, including trumpeter Paul Brody from Germany, and the incomparable Moguilevsky and Lerner from Buenos Aires. The result is the most exciting, inventive, beautiful, and just plain interesting Yiddish album in years. Songs range from traditional, to Yiddish folk & theatre hits, to the always-interesting Lazar Weiner, and new tunes by Marcelo Moguilevsky. But, read what Keith has to say, in his review of Mitch Smolkin / A song is born / אַ ניגן איז געבוירן

nice woodcut drawing and well-rendered letteringFor those lucky folks who live in Toronto, tonight is the CD release of the first solo release by talented Jazz musician Lorie Wolf: The Lithuanian Empire, as well as the award-winner Sisters of Sheynville.

cd coverDrummer Matt Temkin goes in a different direction, entirely. To those who know him, this is no surprise, nor is the delicious serving of older-style klezmer-jazz á la Epstein Brothers, with welcome side trips to Second Ave. and to the music of the late German Goldenshteyn. Anchoring it all in "today" is the way he transposes the concept of "jam band" to klezmer, and how obvious and delightful it all sounds together. Check out Keith's review of Matt Temkin's Yiddish Jam Band / Poykler's Shloft Lied.

cd coverFinally, Keith introduces a band that is entirely new to me, the high-energy Polish ensemble, Klezmafour. Sounds like I need to pick up some new music.

More coming soon!

Bios of Jewish musicians in Poland between the two World Wars

From Helen Winkler, back in mid-December, comes this gem from

I came a cross a website today that give bios of various Jewish musicians in Poland between WW1&2—Thought it might be of interest.

Jewish Music in Poland between the World Wars. It is a partial translation of a book written in Yiddish originally.

There's a very moving section that talks about a musician, Jakob Glatstein, who led a children's choir in the Warsaw Ghetto, including a photo of the choir. (scroll down a short way)

Lori Cahan-Simon adds some additional resources:

I've been wanting information on just some of these people! I have the Jakob Glatstein 1918 book Di fraye muze and am so glad to know something more about both the book and the author/composer. Does anyone know anything about the music and school books of CJSZO (The Central Organization of Yiddish Schools ) or the Tzisha shuln in Poyln? I know about Israel Glatstein's Gezang un Shpil, Warsaw, 1920s, but haven't seen a copy yet.

Speaking of Poland and Yiddish, have you all heard about the hundreds of Yiddish books online to view for free from the Polish National Library?

January 10, 2009

7th Annual KlezmerQuerque, Albuquerque, NM Feb 12-15, 2009

Albuquerque, New Mexico USA, January 7th, 2009 -- The Southwest’s 7th Celebration of Klezmer Music and Dance-- KLEZMERQUERQUE 2009-- presents 4 days of concerts, dance parties, classes and workshops featuring the world-renowned Strauss/Warschauer Klezmer Duo—Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer; the acclaimed dancer, choreographer, dance scholar and historian Judith Brin Ingber, as well as many local artists. ‘Klezmer’ is the music and dance of the Jewish people of Eastern Europe which is currently enjoying a revival in the world music scene as well as in popular music and culture. The annual festival will take place from February 12-15 (Thursday evening through Sunday afternoon) at Albuquerque’s Congregation Nahalat Shalom which is located on 3606 Rio Grande Blvd. NW (between Candelaria & Griegos).

For detailed information about class times, prices, tickets & registration:
Beth Cohen, Klezmerquerque coordinator (505) 243-6276 and/or
The non-profit and tax-exempt Congregation Nahalat Shalom: (505) 343-8227

January 3, 2009

"Arise!," from Sy Kushner

cd coverNulite Music, formerly Kush Publications, proudly announces the release of "Arise! New Jewish Music by Sy Kushner". This is the first of a series of albums to be released containing original compositions by Sy Kushner. Performing on this CD are some of New York's top klezmer musicians. Also available is a book by the same name of transcribed music from the CD. Sy writes, "This CD, the first of a series, was influenced by a lifetime of experiences, of lows and highs, of despair and hope, of darkness and light. There are many musical influences on my work, from Chassidic, Israeli, klezmer and Mideastern, to Irish, African, Latin and avant-garde. I hope that listening to this music will bring you the same degree of reflection, joy, light, and hope for the future that it has brought me in composing and performing it".

For more information, visit Nulite Music, Inc.

January 1, 2009

Moussa Berlin live in Jerusalem

So, you just heard Pete Sokolow doing some very American-style klezmer. Now, by way of contrast, the great Moussa Berlin wails away in Jerusalem on "Bar Yohai nigunim".

Pete Sokolow tears up Tarras' Rumeinishe Freilakhs

Michael Winograd posts this great video from a recent gig by the Tarras Band: "The Tarras Band plays the music of Dave Tarras (no way!!!) featuring Peter Sokolow on piano, Ben Holmes on Trumpet, Michael Winograd on Clarinet, Jim Guttman on Bass, Richie Barshay and David Licht on Drums. Here Mr. Sokolow tears it up on an old klezmer standard "

Elaine Hoffman-Watts: Girls Don't Play Drums

Keith Wolzinger posted this last week—I believe it is the first video cast by his wife, Renah Wolzinger. From the content, it looks as though this was recorded at KlezKanada last summer. For more on mothers who play drums, see a video from earlier this fall.

Watch the new short documentary film by Renah Wolzinger about legendary Klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman-Watts:

There's even more video of Elaine from the Philadelphia Folklore Project: Women Play Klezmer

December 29, 2008

Maxwell St. Klezmer celebrates 25th Anniversary

From the Chicago Jewish NewsMaxwell Street Klezmer celebrates, in part, with a long, well-written article in the Chicago Jewish News: All that Jewish Jazz: Maxwell Street Klezmer Band celebrates 25 years of keeping the music of our past alive and well, by Pauline Dubkin Yearwood (12/26/2008)

December 28, 2008

David Breytman, a"h, 1948-2008

David BreytmanYears ago, awed by David Breytman's playing, I accused him of playing "speed klez." This past spring, with a new release by his band, Klezmania, Shmoozin', his playing had slowed. In response to my query, his bandmates let me know how sick he was. It was with no surprise, but deep sorrow, that notice of his passing arrived in August:

It is with heaviness of heart that I write of the passing of David Breytman.

A skilled bayan player, an honest and truly decent mentch, an ever-reliable member of our group, Klezmania, his smile, his playing and his very presence will be sorely missed.

Born in Odessa, David graduated from Music College where he studied to be a conductor, and performer of folk instruments. During compulsory military service he was a musician with the Red Army Choir. David became a teacher of music and later attended the Teacher's Institute where he trained as a secondary teacher. David learned traditional Moldavian, Rumanian and Yiddish melodies from his grandparents and from his extensive travels throughout Moldavia and the Southern Ukraine. He toured throughout the Ukraine and the USSR with the Odessa Instrument Orchestra as concertmeister. This ensemble won gold and silver medals for Best Folk Music Orchestra at ‘All Russia’ Competitions. He migrated to Australia in 1978 and became the musical director of the Sadko Balalaika Orchestra in 1980 which has toured Australia and the USA.

David joined Klezmania in 1993, and last played with us at our recent album launches in June.

Lionel Mrocki

Tributes flow for Klezmania member, Darren Levin, Australian Jewish News, Aug 26, 2008

Harris Wulfson, z"l, July 23, 2008

I sadly catch up with some sad tidings from the months I was unable to keep up with email. Harris Wulfson died suddenly on July 23. This from July 26, 2008. I have concatenated several posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list, started by the death notice in the NY Times, and then emails from Eve Sicular:

Harris Joshua Wulfson

Harris Wulfson, from flickr, 12th St. DavidI very sadly report that the wonderfully talented and sweet Harris Wulfson has died. His gifts included an extraordinary ear for many styles on violin, particularly klezmer and Balkan musics.

We were fortunate to have Harris record as a guest artist on our first two Metropolitan Klezmer CDs, and one photo of him with the band has long been posted on our gallery page. (You have to scroll down and look to the left side of the screen; this image is from 1999 at Tonic, picture by Dennis Kleiman; Harris is in a red shirt on the far right.) This is also in the booklet of "Mosaic Persuasion" in higher resolution:

Harris had been involved with many other band projects too—I know he had frequented The Tank and Barbes, around NYC, in the recent past—as well as compositional graduate programs on the West Coast and at CUNY, and many other high-level ventures and adventures, even in the short time he shared with us all.

May his memory continue for a blessing.

Continue reading "Harris Wulfson, z"l, July 23, 2008" »

December 27, 2008

Despite funding cuts: London KlezFest 2009 NOT cancelled

As of 3/1/09 I am able to report that KlezFest 2009 will definitely happen, as will other London Jewish Music events this summer

Booking is now open for this summer's JMI KlezFest London 9 – 14 August 2009 Preceded by the famous one week - Ot Azoy! Yiddish crash course 2 – 7 August 2009

At SOAS, University of London
Vernon Square Campus, Penton Rise, London, WC1X 9EW
Book online

To all KlezFest Faculty,

I have some disappointing news. Despite our best efforts, we have had to take the decision that KlezFest 2009 is just not going to be possible. As I am sure you are all aware, funding is very difficult at the moment and the amount needed to run the event properly is very large. The funding organisation we were applying to would only be able to let us know too late whether funding has been allocated. This would not give enough notice to teachers to make decisions about whether to come or not, and would offer us too little time to manage the marketing and administration necessary. So, it is with regret that we announce that KlezFest 2009 will not take place next August. We are very sorry and disappointed about this ourselves, but thought it best to inform everyone as soon as possible so that you can all make alternative plans.

This comes at a time when funding for the arts in the UK has completely slumped, and our own funding pools have seriously depleted. As a result, JMI has had to undertake some serious cutbacks. I have personally decided that it is best for me to look for alternative employment, so, sadly I will be leaving JMI at the end of this term (19th December).

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Geraldine & co will be continuing to apply for funding for KlezFest 2010 and will be in touch with people in due course to develop that. August 2009 it is hoped that JMI may be able to hold some small scale workshops at SOAS with a small team of UK teachers—so there will be Klezmer and Yiddish song in London of some description next summer.

I have so enjoyed getting to know all of you over the past few years and working with you to make KlezFest such a joyous and memorable and I definitely want to stay in touch with you all … email me, and of course I am on facebook—do become my friend if you arent already!

Lots of love, happy Chanukkah and best wishes for 2009
Dr. Laoise Davidson

Pete Rushefsky featured in Jewish Week article

Pete Rushefsky at the tsimblBack on the Jewish-Music list, George Robinson (whose own blog and reviews should be launched in a few days—stay tuned) got a chance to profile someone "… in the Jewish music world who was focusing on good works. I could have given my editor a list that would essentially have included every working musician on /this/ list, but I had to pick one to write about. I chose Pete Rushefsky, in no small part because I think that CTMD does important work directly affecting the future of the arts in New York City and beyond.…

All joking aside, I'm sure everyone knows Pete as a terrific and dedicated musician and a creative arts administrator and programmer. And now he's learning to change diapers, too. A man of many talents, profiled at Playing Against Time.

December 17, 2008

Di Naye Kapelye/Traktorist - what a treat!

cd coverI had other plans this evening. I might happily have caught up with a review of a very, very nice klezmer flute CD that is having a CD release party in New York City even as I write this. But then the package from Hatikvah Music arrived....

cd coverThe new CD is called "Traktorist." It features Bob Cohen, Yankl Falk, and the rest of Di Naye Kapelye. Michael Alpert shows up, as does Josh Dolgin. At one point they run out of musicians, so they dragoon a semi-anonymous crowd of extras called the Técső village band. The music runs a gamut from hutsul and other Carpathian wonders to Abe Schwartz, Hasidic nign, and those folky things that you collect when you've wandered around in them thar hills a few decades. In short, if you were hearing real bands worth hearing playing the mixed up, all fits together, dance your socks off usual repertoire, it might sound this good. I might have more refined things to say as I listen to this a few more times (It's been on steady repeat since I got home a few hours ago), but I already know that this is the gift. (Well, this and the other ten or so recordings on my Hanukkah List. I may be passionately in love with music, but I share.)

Available exclusively in the US from Hatikvah Music. Email Simon and tell him that Ari sent you! Available in Europe and elsewhere from Oriente.

December 14, 2008

Three must-have CDs, reviewed by Keith Wolzinger

cd coverLet's see. Suppose you took one of my favorite old-time singers, Hazel Dickins, and had her sit in with the amazing Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys. Then suppose you invite some of the best bluegrass musicians--oh, Mike Marshall, Tony Trischka ... then suppose you rope in the guitarist whose work in the Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna made my high school years almost bearable. Even in my imagination, I didn't dream of something this good. Check out Keith's review of the Klezmer Mountain Boys' latest, Second Avenue Square Dance. I'll say just one more thing. Jorma co-wrote one of the songs with Margot. It's good.

cd coverLike fellow trumpet genius Frank London, David Buchbinder is never still, and he is always involved in something special. Problem is, he's from Canada—a Torontan, for goodness sake, so we never hear of him in this country. Bad move. In this project he got together with Cuban musician Hector Durán and they decided to see what they could come up with. The results first hit the performance waves at Ashkenaz two years ago. They waited to bake the CD until the songs were ready. It is outstanding. Check out Havana/Odessa and you'll hear why I love this CD.

cd coverThis is Yale's umpteenth CD. It's a good one. It features music from all over Eastern Europe that he's gathered in his travels, the drumming of David Licht (among other stars), and the voice of his wife Elizabeth Schwartz. Check out what Keither has to say about Borsht with bread, brothers.

As you get ready for your final holiday purchases, I will be trying to catch up with reviews of the latest Jewish music. Some by me, many by Keith and other reviewers. Stay tuned.

Review: New Klezmer Fiddle book by Ilana Cravitz

book coverWe've already noted that the book is out, but now Eric Zaidins takes Ilana Cravitz' new book for a spin and tries it out with his Westchester Klez Kidz. This is the gift for the budding musician in your family this year. Check out the details of Klezmer Fiddle: a how-to guide. (Note, the book comes with parts for a number of string instruments. We had the great pleasure of using it during our Sukkoth klezmer jam. ari)

With luck, getting this review online means that I'll be breaking the logjam and other listings, calendar events, and reviews will start appearing. If you haven't already purchased items for the gift-giving season, stay tuned.

Beyond Boundaries this Tuesday

If you are in NYC, you'll hear everyone from Drs. Hankus Netsky and Joel Rubin to Alicia Svigals at this amazing event:

Hot PstromiDecember 16 2008

3pm to 4:30:
Symposium 'Beyond Boundaries: Klezmer in the 21st Century' at CUNY's Martin E. Segal Theatre.

Concert with Yale Strom & Hot Pstromi and special guests celebrating the first anniversary of the historic 'Great Day on Eldridge Street' photo and gathering. Martin E. Segal Theatre, CUNY, New York

For more info, see the Klezmershack calendar listing.

November 23, 2008

Jorma Kaukonen plays KlezmerGrass

This just posted to Facebook (and YouTube) by Margot Leverett from the CD release for her fabulous "Second Avenue Squaredance" CD. You get a sense of why I can't stop listening--and now you know what to get the bluegrass and/or klezmer music fans in your life for Chanuka! (Did I mentioned David Licht on drums, Tony Trishka, or the others?)

October 18, 2008

Abraham Inc., Live at Ashkenaz, on CBC radio

From the Ashkenaz Festival folks

Undoubtedly one of the highlights of this past Ashkenaz Festival was the Canadian premiere performance of Klezmer-funk supergroup Abraham Inc., featuring David Krakauer, Socalled, and funk legend Fred Wesley. The performance for a near-capacity crowd at Harbourfront thrilled young and old alike, and was recorded by CBC Radio for broadcast on the program "Canada Live." If you missed the show, or simply want to relive the moment, the show will be broadcast nationally on CBC Radio Two (94.1 fm in Toronto) tonight Wednesday October 15 at 8pm. The show will also be available online, for free on demand, from the "Canada Live" website.

October 12, 2008

Pete Sokolow with the Tarras Band

Michael Winograd posts this video in which Pete Sokolow talks about Dave Tarras with the Tarras Band—contemporary musicians playing Dave Tarras' music:

October 5, 2008

More from Krakow Jewish Music Festiva, 2008 - the finale

Christian Dawid sends in these two clips from the festival finale. The first is general chaos. In the 2nd, Jewlia Eisenberg appears to be leading an American gospel song?….

September 28, 2008

Leverett and her Klezmer Mountain Boys … with Jorma Kaukonen, Hazel Dickens and more!

who knew the classy Traditional Crossroads could produce such an appalling cover?At last I can spill the beans! I've been biting my tongue to keep from kvelling about this recording for ages. I should have realized that if anyone could bring Jorma into the klezmer fold, it would be the persuasive, astonishing, and ever klezmerdich Ms. Leverett. (My very first CD review was about Jorma's "Hot Tuna/Burgers" release, for a Dallas underground paper that had the good sense to reject it on the grounds of bad writing.) This is a CD that brings out the best in klezmer, bluegrass, and all the colors in between. The vocal by Hazel Dickens is wonderful. Guest appearances by the whole gange of Tony Trischka, Darol Anger, David Grier, Mike Marshall—and David Licht on drums and Hankus Netsky on piano…. Whew! I'll let Margot take over—but look for me at the party; I so want to be there:

Announcing the release of the new CD by Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys—"2nd Avenue Square Dance" on Traditional Crossroads.

Our CD RELEASE PARTY will be Tuesday, October 7, at 8pm at DROM, 85 Ave. A (between 5th and 6th streets), NYC. Featuring guest artists Jorma Kaukonen (hot tuna), Dave Licht (klezmatics), Jen Larsen (straight drive) and hopefully even a few more! (212) 777-1157 Tickets are already on sale.

Continue reading "Leverett and her Klezmer Mountain Boys … with Jorma Kaukonen, Hazel Dickens and more!" »

Cancelled: Danube Klezmer Cruise, May 15-24, 2010

This has been cancelled. Consult the website for further info

cruise ship

Continue reading "Cancelled: Danube Klezmer Cruise, May 15-24, 2010" »

Praise for "Isle of Klezbos"

Eve Sicular writes:

Here's a link to the blog about our Isle of Klezbos 9/16 show in the East Village, a good time was had by all. Isle of Klezbos was grateful for beautiful weather this time too! The photo here remarkably shows all six of us in action

"soulful artistry … a beautiful summer night's evening in the park by ladies who know their craft."


new Klezmer Fiddle Book from UK's Ilana Cravitz

Klezmer Fiddle coverIlana Cravitz writes:

’m delighted to be able to let you know that my new book on playing klezmer music is now available.

The book contains 16 tunes in treble clef with chords above the stave for easy accompaniment. Each has a ‘workshop’ on playing in traditional style. There’s a CD with a complete set of backing tracks you can play along to, as well as two pull-out booklets with bandstand-style parts for sekund and bass players.

For more details about Klezmer Fiddle – a how-to guide (Oxford University Press, 2008) and a special introductory offer, visit

I hope you enjoy using the book, and look forward to your comments and feedback!

Austin Klezmorim bring klez to "Festival Institute @ Roundtop"

Ya'll remember the Austin Klezmorim, one of the oldest klezmer revival bands, presenters of my favorite retelling of the Purim story, etc., etc., etc. Bandleader Bill Averbach writes of a new achievement, coming up this Oct 12:

I wanted to mention that we are preparing to do an historic concert in Texas. We're a good group to do historic Texas things in the Klezmer world. We are playing at the Festival Institute in Round Top, TX. This is the first time ever that they have had music other than symphonic performances. And, yes! The Austin Klezmorim are there to blaze new trails into the Vild Vest! EEEEEHAH!

We'll be playing a wide range (no pun intended … yeah, sure, why not a pun) of music starting with the most traditional through to the most contemporary (our stuff).

Klezmer Orchestra forming in London, UK

Just to let the on-line klezmer world know about a klezmer orchestra I am busy forming in the London UK area. The rehearsals for the orchestra will begin on Monday 13th of October at:- The Inn on the Green 3/5 Thorpe Close Ladbroke Grove London W10 5XL Website for more info on the location: The rehearsals will be every 3 weeks from 19.30-21.30 on 13th Oct.; 3rd Nov.; 24th Nov.; 15th Nov.; & led by the the very wonderful Ilana Cravitz. We want musicians, singers & dancers..! Do let the klezmer world know abou this special shtik!! for more info contact E-mail William Millis

September 27, 2008

The more-or-less 25 essential klezmer recordings

My wife is putting together a list for librarians of essential Jewish recordings—everything from classical to cantorial to Ashkenazic and Sephardic folk traditions. I tend never to make lists, never to recommend music. Sometime in adolescence I got tired of the "who is the best rock guitarist of all time" conversations. Best at what? Best when? Would I really want to be stuck on a desert island with this wanker? So, with the exception of the occasionally updated "10 CDs I'm listening to now" list, I stay clear.

Here's the problem. First, we all hear with different ears and for different reasons. Some recordings are simply great, but if I used greatness as a criterion, I'd have to include everything by Brave Old World and the Klezmatics and dozens of others. That's not a top-25 list. I'd also have to include scores of CDs that move me greatly, or that are my idea of "comfort food", and I'd have to include merely "good" CDs by bands that I would go a long way in a snowstorm or across the desert to hear, because when I hear the recordings, I hear them live, again, and it feels so good.

But this is a different exercise. Suppose you wanted to express the breadth of klezmer—just that one bit of Jewish music? Suppose you wanted to ensure that people understood that there was amazing klezmer coming from places many of us aren't conscious of there being Jews, to being with? Suppose you had to give people a sense of the history of klezmer recordings and the ways the music is changing? In this case, I also tried to emphasized a few of the most promising young musicians.

Continue reading "The more-or-less 25 essential klezmer recordings" »

September 6, 2008

Zev Feldman at Music Mountain, CT, today

I have to call your attention to an extraordinary event happening today that most people wouldn't otherwise notice: The Alexander Fiterstein Trio: Music of the European Jewish Wedding.

Walter Zev FeldmanIt is at Music Mountain in Falls Village, CT, on Saturday, Sept. 6 at 6:30pm. and features clarinetist Alexander Fiterstein along with the maestro of the tsimbl, Zev Feldman, and the avatar of the accordion, Christina Crowder. Ignore the rain, I say. This is not to be missed if you are anywhere within a few hours of the event.

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 or check out the Ashkenaz Foundation and Festival group on Facebook.

September 1, 2008

Quick report from Ashkenaz

I have good intentions to write more about the festival once I get back to the States (and dread that drive). Those intentions may end up with my notes from Israel last spring.

So, here are some quick high points:

Basya SchaechterFirst, kudos to Eric Stein for bringing in a diversity of traditional Jewish cultures in flux—not being stuck on just Yiddish and klezmer. Pharaoh's Daughter last night was one proof of how much interesting music is coming from outside our Eastern European cultural world. Bandleader Schachter was so grounded and comfortable, and the band, supplemented by sax maven Alex Kontorovich, was so tight, even in the longer improvisations. The material focused largely on traditional Ladino, Yiddish (including a rousing "Shnirele Pirele"), and liturgical Hebrew—I didn't notice any of the new Heschel material (Schaechter has set several love poems by the late AJ Heschel to music.) It was easily the best concert in the large stage all day—although Streiml were in excellent form, themselves, and "Sisters of Sheynville" were sheer delight.

Saturday night, Konsonans Retro blew the stage away (okay, that was an easy statement), which isn't to say that the Klez Dispensers were less than superb, either. Many indoor concerts were over-subscribed, so I'll be cutting out of the parade early today to ensure that I see the new Marilyn Lerner-Adrienne Cooper piece.

Dancing on the lawn with Konsonans Retro at Ashkenaz 2008The other thing to note is how much Eastern European folk dancing is happening. There are at least three hours a day, converting the main lawn of the event area into a place where traditional klezmer, accompanied by primo dance instructors including Toronto's own Helen Winkler, keeps people moving in circles (sometimes twining lines, or couples) throughout the day. This should become sine qua non for all Jewish music festivals—it's important for learning/remembering basic dance steps, and it matters that people see other people having fun dancing to traditional Eastern European simkhe music. In that sense, this festival is still very much "Ashkenaz."

August 11, 2008

Last call: KlezKanada, Aug 18-24, 2008

KlezKanada 2008There is still room to register for KlezKanada 2008, to be held from August 18 to 24. Act quickly to be part of the richest, most intense experience of Yiddishkeit in North America. Follow these links to download KlezKanada's

2008 Registration Form
2008 Brochure
2008 Workshop Choice Sheet

Check out the new KlezKanada website,

Ashkenaz Festival Starts in two weeks, Toronto, Canada

Ashkenaz Festival logo
For 13 years Ashkenaz has brought the finest in Yiddish and Jewish culture to Toronto. To celebrate our ‘Bar Mitzvah’ year we have assembled a diverse and exciting festival lineup featuring more than 70 performances and 200 individual artists from a dozen countries. From music, dance, theatre, and film, to visual arts, literature, discussions, kids and family activities, and group celebrations like Havdallah and our famous Parade, Ashkenaz offers a wealth of artistic and cultural experiences for all the senses. The intermingling of tradition and innovation has always been the hallmark not just of the Ashkenaz Festival, but of the global Jewish community. This year, Ashkenaz once again presents a mix of traditional arts along with multicultural fusion bridging communities and artistic traditions from within and beyond the Jewish world. And while contemporary Klezmer music and Yiddish culture remain at the heart of our programming, we are thrilled this year to offer more Sephardic music and culture than ever before. In short, Ashkenaz offers something for everyone, a multi-cultural, multigenerational experience for Jews and non- Jews alike.

August 7, 2008

And the wrap-up - Greenman + Mahovlich online in the IA

What an amazing concert. We had a standing-room only crowd that seemed to consist exclusively of people who knew this music and loved it, and the musicians fed right off that in one of those wonderful loops where the music becomes incredibly good. They covered the gamut of folk music from Eastern Europe, and Steven contributed a generous helping of material from Stempenyu's Dream. This lead to the delighful anomoly of a concert that ran the gamut from Walt singing a Balkan drinking song to Steve getting the whole audience to join him in a concert-closing catharsis singing his "Yah Ribon."

I tried out two new recorders, one digital audio (but got only one channel), and one DAT (had to boost amplitude, and kept forgetting to turn it on). The DAT recording is now in the Internet Archive (thank you Steve and Walt) for everyone's pleasure. And, of course, if you like this, you have only to visit Steven Greenman's website for more. (The Harmonia Band website appears to be down—not sure where to pick up their wonderful recording on "Traditional Crossroads").

July 18, 2008

Steven Greenman+Walt Mahovlich, Cambridge, MA, Aug 4, 2008

Steven GreenmanIt's confirmed! Steven Greenman (violin) and Walt "Vlado" Mahovlich (clarinet) will be in the Boston area in about two weeks to play some freaking amazing Eastern European music. We rushed to find a venue and managed to rent the Lily Pad 7pm, Aug 4. Now to fill it!

The duo, 2/5 of the Cleveland world music band, Harmonia (as well as members of the original Budowitz) will be playing a wild array of Eastern European folk music: balkan, Rom, klezmer.

Walt MahovlichBoston Balkan music fans will know Walt from his many appearances at Balkan night. Steven, of course, is renowned for his Eastern European klezmer roots recording with Zev Feldman, Khevrisa, as well as his more recent, and stunning release, Stempenyu's Dream.

This is likely to be the most fun you can have on a week night any time soon. I intend to bring my copy of the Shalom Aleichem story after which Steven named his band for autographing ;-). Do please help spread the word.

July 10, 2008

Bob Cohen salutes the "others"

If you've been paying attention, you know that Alan Bern has set up a wonderful project with Jewish and Rom musicians as part of his Yiddish Summer Weimar project. They did a preview at the Krakow festival, and you'll get a chance to hear them in Vienna, then at Yiddish Summer Weimar, itself. Bob has been doing this sort of fusion most of his life, of course. Among my fondest memories of wandering in Eastern Europe in 1996 was listening to Bob and Josh Horowitz talk about meeting and playing with musicians, Jewish, Rom, and otherwise, throughout eastern Europe. This week, spurred by the Weimar project, Bob pays homage to some of his teachers:

Jews and Gypsies: The "Others" in European Music

New JTA column by "virtually Jewish" Ruth E. Gruber

Kinky Friedman, photo: Ruth Ellen GruberHey, I got it on the grapevine by reading the original Rootless Cosmopolitan, that writer Ruth Ellen Gruber has a new column, on the JTA website. To help confuse the perplexed, this, too, is called "Rootless Cosmopolitan."

What I find very interesting is that, for the first subject of her new column, Gruber touches on Texas country music icon, Kinky Friedman. Heh. It was only a few decades ago that I was starting a multi-lingual newspaper in Jerusalem. I needed an editorial. So, as the October War changed history around me, my first published newspaper column was on, um, Kinky Friedman and how the Israeli Knesset would react if he carried out his threat to concertise in Israel.

Gruber has far more interesting things to say as she discourses on "From klezmer to country: Linking the soundtracks". Check it out!

July 6, 2008

Catching up: Michael Winograd Ensemble at NYBC

It was mother's day. In our family, that meant an opportunity to gather the youngest son and travel out to the National Yiddish Book Center, where this year, the featured band was Michael Winograd's Klezmer Ensemble. The weather was perfect. In fact, it was tempting to sit out in the orchard and watch the birds, enjoy the sun. But, inside we went.

CD coverIt was my first chance to hear Winograd perform material from his latest CD, Bessarabian Hop. For the occasion he also brought in a singer from New York City, a cantor named Judith Berkson. Amazing voice. As was the case with Winograd's earlier band, Khevre, the songs he chose are newer ones, not the usual golden oldies. We started off with Josh Waletzky's "tantsn kales" (Brides are Dancing). By the time the afternoon was over, my notes show songs by Arkady Gendler and Beyle Schaechter Gottesman, as well. As Winograd said about Gottesman (which could have been applied to any of the material), "wicked in a good way, if you know what I mean."

The music was superb. Patrick Farrell's accordion went from Irish to French to New Orleans in seconds. It's rare to see musicians having as much fun playing such complex, sometimes serious music. We also got the real test. Would an audience consisting primarily of older people dig the new stuff? I guess so. In the middle of one of Winograd's introductions, one visitor exclaimed that he had to bring the band to her town, Saratoga Springs. And, at the conclusion of the concert as we drifted out, with the band, to enjoy the sunshine, it appeared as though almost everyone in attendance had lined up to purchase a CD. (It's an excellent CD, by the way. And, I forgot, the reason I bring all of this up months later is to announce that I finally have a simple review of the CD up, myself, to help spread the word. "Bessarabian Hop." It's the new dance/CD craze and a must-have.

More video from Krakow

Bob Blacksberg, talented photographer and proud parent of world-famous trombonist Dan Blacksberg (who appears in the "Other Europeans" video) writes:

The Festival has now posted segments from several of the performances at The "Next" icon in the Windows Media Player applet will cycle through the segments, which each run about 5 minutes. All performers deserve hearing, of course. The final portion of the Other Europeans, that Ruth Ellen Gruber posted yesterday, is included in the "official" feed. Would that we could have seen today's Shalom on Szeroka Street.

"Other Europeans" concert at Krakow Jewish Culture Fest

Writer Ruth Ellen Gruber attended the first performance of Yiddish Summer Weimar's "Other Europeans" concert:

The "Other Europeans" project—an intercultural dialogue on Yiddish and Roma music, culture and identity—had its concert debut July 2 at the Jewish Culture Festival in Krakow. The two-year project entails creation of two bands, one Yiddish and one Roma, which this year will play separately, developing repertoires with common Romanian roots and next year will join forces, performing together. At the concert in Krakow, each band played a set and then joined together for the encore—here's a link to a video I shot of that joint performance. Sorry about the fuzzy video, but the sound is more or less OK….

The project is a collaborative effort of the Yiddish Summer Weimar, the Krakow Jewish Culture Festival and the KlezMORE festival in Vienna. Driving force behind it is Alan Bern. For details of the project, see

Yiddish Summer Weimar kicks off next weekend with a 3-day "other Europeans" symposium.

Günther Schöller notes:

The internet radio station broadcasts both Vienna concerts:

The concert of the "Yiddish Music Project" is on July 7th, starting at 9 pm local time, that's 3 pm in New York. The concert of the "Roma Music Project" is on July 8th, same time.

Both concerts should also be available as stream on demand afterwards, but I'm not 100% sure.

KlezKanada brochure available; registration filling up; Aug 18-24, 2008

KlezKanada 2008Okay, it's true that I'll be doing the multilingual daily newsletter (Yiddish, English, maybe some Russian, Spanish—in whatever languages events happen) and other computer-related stuff there, but there is also going to be some hot Yiddish culture, starting with klezmer.

The brochure for the 13th edition of KlezKanada's Summer Institute is now available! Download it in PDF form from our website. Also available is the Workshop Choice Sheet. Print it, fill it out and send it in!

Download the 2008 registration form/a> and send it in today to reserve your place at KlezKanada!!

Our new website is almost finished and should be online very soon! There, amongst bright colours, you will find full faculty bios, a year-round calendar of events, program highlights, pictures, videos and more!!

Can't wait until August?? Recapture some amazing moments from last year's concerts on KlezKanada's YouTube Channel.

La Minute Klezmer Bling Bling

Klezmer has really caught on in Paris. Catch this quick video from Yom, a Parisian klezmer channelling Naftule Brandwein.

June 29, 2008

Three new reviews by Keith Wolzinger

CD coverWhile my back was turned, Keith Wolzinger has zipped out three more reviews which are now copied here to the KlezmerShack. First, he beat me to the punch and reviewed the most recent Metropolitan Klezmer CD, the deliciously live, "Traveling Show." For hard-driving, enormously fun, American-style klezmer, this band cannot be beat (nor, given Eve at the drumkit, can they lose the beat!)

CD coverNext up is singer Lori Cahan-Simon's latest collection of lesser-known Yiddish songs that, had we been luckier, our bubbies would have taught us. When Chanukah rolls around again this winter, we'll be ready, because she has assembled her usual amazing team and recorded some very special songs in Chanukah is Freylekh! A Yiddish Chanukah Celebration. Songs My Bubbe Should Have Taught Me: Volume Two

CD coverFinally, what Keith calls "neo-klezmer," Toronto's klez-jazz fusion band, Klezfactor releases its second smash album, Klezmachine.

Enjoy! And many thanks to Keith.

A fresh set of reviews from George Robinson

CD coverOkay, these have been online for a few months—catching up means that I get to post a lot of stuff that some people will have already seen. But, this is an incredible set of reviews, covering almost everyone on my own current listening list, and on the "must review very soon or I will be depressed at not getting the word out: Michael Winograd's "Bessarabian Hop," David Buchbinder's excellent "Odessa/Havana," cd coverthe hot new Veretski Pass, "Trafik," and that's just a few of the gems reviewed here. Check out The Jewish-Latin Connection, published, as usual, on the Jewish Week. This one from March 26, by George Robinson, of course.

KlezKamp Channel on YouTube - new clips

Well, first of all, you can view the KlezKamp channel on YouTube (to which you can even subscribe with your ipod or newsreader) at

Recent posts include "KlezKamp 2007 - Carpathian Jewish Wedding Band (Part 1)":

and KlezKamp 2007 - Dance by Felix Fibich's class

Jewish podcasts that don't suck

Well, obviously Keith Wolzinger's Klezmer Podcast would be one of the featured podcasts mentioned. Even better, commentors to the article have added other names with contact info. Check it out! Jewish Podcasts That Don't Suck, byby Elizabeth Alpern, from the "New Voices" Student Jewish newspaper

While I'm at it, Keith has been busily releasing new podcasts regularly:

June 28, 2008

Channe Nussbaum & Klezmofobia rock out in Mexico

From Channe Nussbaum, Queen of Danish Klezmer, ever pushing the edges of Yiddish music, this time, in Mexico! (Is that the largest bass balalaika you've ever seen, or what?

Klezmofobia has recently returned—all high from playing stadium concert in Mexico City for at least 15.000 wild young mexicans. We were also invited to perform in the mexican TV show "Animal Nocturno"; a channel wich is broadcasted in all Mexico, Latin America and the USA.

We met other bands from many countries who also participated the Ollinkan Festival, and we had a marvellous time partying and jamming with people from Africa, Portugal, Spain, France, England, Germany, South America etc.

Here's a couple of samples from the TV show "Animal Nocturno":

Grine kuzine/Zigeuner

Vi ahin zol icg gehn

Best regards
Channe Nussbaum

June 27, 2008

KlezKamp one-day roadshow, NYC, July 13, 2008

Living Traditions, in conjunction with YIVO, and the Uriel Weinrich / NYU Program in Yiddish Language Literature and Culture, presents:

KlezKamp Roadshow

posterSunday, July 13, 2008

Classes + Workshops: 12:30-6:00pm
dance party: 7:00-8:30pm

Center for Jewish History
15 W. 16th St., NYC

Continue reading "KlezKamp one-day roadshow, NYC, July 13, 2008" »

June 23, 2008

"Shmoozin'" down under--a new "must have" CD from Klezmania

CD coverOh, man. A new disk from Australia's answer to the Klezmer Conservatory Band crossed with digideroo arrived today, and this one doesn't even feature didgideroo (although ears better than mine will catch it's use on a couple of cuts). I should wait and listen to Klezmania's new "Shmoozin'" a few times before writing anything, but I can't wait. The disk is a perfect blend of klezmer and jazz, but damned if I can easily separate one from the other, and all held together by the sensuous voice of Freydi Mrocki.

Continue reading ""Shmoozin'" down under--a new "must have" CD from Klezmania" »

KlezFest London 2008, Aug 7-22, 2008

KlezFest London 2008 posterKlezFest London August 10 - 15 Directed by Frank London, with SongFest directed by Shura Lipovsky and DanceFest by Andreas Schmitges. With special guests Moshe Berlin (Israel), Steve Weintraub (USA) and Joanne Borts (USA). An incredible week of Klezmer classes, workshops, masterclasses, jams and concerts in the heart of London. See for full details.

June 22, 2008

KlezKanada Brochure and Workshop Schedule Available Online!, Aug 18-24, 2008

KlezKanada logoKlezKanada

KlezKanada 2008 will take place from August 18 through 24.

We have a world-class faculty and a fantastic program of concerts, lectures, films and hands-on workshops scheduled. The proprietor of this website will be there once again facilitating the Yiddish gossip column, the blog, and other neat, new ventures.

You can download all of the information at

Hope to see you there!

KlezKamp Roadshow, Poconos, PA, Jul 30 - Aug 6, 2008

Roadshow graphicKlezKamp Roadshow: July 30-August 6, 2008
Block & Hexter Vacation Center, Pocono Mts. PA

Download brochure

For more information (note new address):
Living Traditions
207 W. 25th Street, 4th floor
New York City, NY 10001
(212) 532-8202
or visit the Living Traditions Website

Konsonans Retro on YouTube

Christian Dawid writes: "For those of you who are already looking forward to the Kraków festival and KlezKanada…">

"[Filmed last night [back on May 18, 2008—the KlezmerShack can be slow. ari]. Yes, it's pretty dark, but the tune is all the brighter!] [You can also see Guy Schalom dance for three seconds.]"

Klezmer on Spanish radio

From Spain, I get the following word:

We make a radio program from Madrid, called Mapamundi, where we pay a big attention to klezmer. As an example you can listen to our special report about klezmer history, even from the destruction of the 2nd Temple (hehe) to nowadays. You can also search for "klezmer" in our website and you'll check it.

Sincerely yours,
Araceli Tzigane & Juan Antonio Vázquez

Video: Klezmer Juice performing in LA

Gustavo Bulgach here frOm Klezmer Juice…. Here's a new video of us performing @ the DOROTHY CHANDLER THEATRE in LOS ANGELES last December. I hope everything is fine and we'll see you guys soon with UNA NOCHE YIDDISHE. ZAI GEZUNDT

In praise of Pete Sokolow

Pete SokolowMark Rubin takes some time out to write about an essential (and ubiquitous) member of the Klezmer Community, Pete Sokolow. Follow the discussion and you'll get video, Wex, and more.

Remembering Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel, z"l

photoStill catching up from several months of backlog, here is a note from Pete Rushefsky:

For those of you who missed it in the last Center for Traditional Music and Dance eNewsletter (which you can sign up for at, I interviewed Joel Rubin about the recent losses of clarinetists/band leaders Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel. You can find the article here: Remembering Marty Levitt and Rudy Tepel

June 21, 2008

Paris Klezmer Festival arrives, Jul 7-11, 2008

photoKLEZMER PARIS - 2008 Musique juive d'Europe centrale / Jewish music from Central Europe Stage de musique instrumentale / Music workshop Stage de chant yiddish et de danse / Yiddish song and dance workshop Stage pour enfants et juniors / Kids and juniors classes Du 7 au 11 juillet 2008 - July 7th - 11th, 2008 INSCRIVEZ-VOUS VITE ! REGISTER NOW ! Informations détaillées et bulletin d'inscription / more information and application form: Tél : + 33 (0)1 47 00 14 00 - Fax : + 33 (0)1 47 00 14 47

Continue reading "Paris Klezmer Festival arrives, Jul 7-11, 2008" »

June 15, 2008

The klezmer Golem, revisited

dvd coverIt was just a few years ago that Mark Rubin sent me word of an exciting project. He and his Austin-based band had screened the 1920 silent film by Paul Wegener, The Golem to a (mostly klezmer, with some davening assists by Cantor Neil Blumofe) soundtrack he composed. The results were captured on DVD.

The result is fascinating. In the 16th century Prague, of course, wild Jewish wedding music would surely have been popular as 20th century German Jews would have distanced themselves as far as possible from such unmannered music. Anachronisms abound upon anachronisms (including some of the very romantic plot twists), all moved along at an enlivening pace by Rubinchik's Yiddish Ensemble. Occasionally, one can hear the reactions of the audience viewing the movie.

This classic was almost immediately sold out. I am pleased to announce that "The Golem: How He Came Into The World" is once again available to the discerning public, with the klezmer accompaniment from as DVD or digital download.

June 10, 2008

Yiddish Summer Weimar almost here - "The Other Europeans," Jul 10 - Aug 15, 2008

Date: Mon, 19 May 2008
Subject: Newsletter Yiddish Summer Weimar: The Other Europeans July 10th - August 15th 2008

Dear Friends of Yiddish Summer Weimar,

I just returned today from Chisinau (Kishinev), Moldova, where I spent an incredible five days with Marin Bunea (violinist), Diana Bunea (musicologist), Adam Stinga (trumpeter), Kalman Balogh (cimbalist), Fima Chorny (singer/songwriter) and Susana Ghergus (pianist). We spent from morning to night discussing, playing, listening, and exploring the topic of klezmer (Jewish) and lautari (Roma) musicians in Moldavia before the war and until today....

Yiddish Summer Weimar
Veranstalter other music e.V.
c/o Kulturbüro LaRete | Goetheplatz 3 | 99423 Weimar
Fon +49 (0)3643 50 66 77 | Fax +49 (0)3643 49 86 04
Mehr Informationen zum Festival finden Sie unter

Continue reading "Yiddish Summer Weimar almost here - "The Other Europeans," Jul 10 - Aug 15, 2008" »

May 20, 2008

Portuguese Street Corner klezmer

I owe this one to Jack Zaentz' "Teruah blog:

May 7, 2008

Frank London, tonight, NYC, Musical Extravaganza Carnival Party

Frank LondonFrank London's
Worldwide Booty Shaking
Music Extravaganza
Carnival Party
aka "Frank London's 50th Birthday Party Blowout at DROM"

8pm: Sizzle Ohtaka and Han'nya Teikoku from Japan
9pm: Brian Mitchel Band deliver New Orleans funk
10pm: Scott Kettner & Maracata New York—Northern Brazilian carnival party
11pm: Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars
12pm: DJ Joro Boro

May 7, at DROM
85 Avenue A (btw 5th and 6th)
Cover: $15

March 16, 2008

"Early Recordings of Jewish Music in Poland," now available online

From the Jewish-Music list, by Helen Winkler:

"Early Recordings of Jewish Music in Poland" by Michael Aylward, with accompanying introductory remarks is now available for download on my website, courtesy of Michael Aylward.

You can access it from my opening page: Or directly via: (article)

Introductory remarks are available at

This article originally appeared in Polin Volume 16, 2003. Thanks to Michael Aylward for providing this article offprint.

Fwd: Marty Levitt 1931-2008, z"l

Dan Peck wrote to the Jewish-Music list for Henry Sapoznik:

Marty Levitt LP coverKlezmer Friends,

Marty Levitt, klezmer clarinetist and a one time popular Jewish band leader in New York in the 1960s died today. He was 77 and lived in Brooklyn, New York.The cause of death was lung cancer and lymphoma. Levitt came from a long line of professional Jewish musicians; he was the son on of famed klezmer trombonist Yankl "Jack" Levitt a noted Yiddish theater musician and member of the famed Boibriker Kapelle. During the 1950s and 1960s Marty Levitt together with his wife, vocalist Harriet Kane, had one of New York's most popular Jewish wedding orchestras regularly featuring an eight musician bandstand. The several LPs he recorded at this time for Tikva, Fiesta and other indie labels, picture a tuxedoed Levitt all pencil thin mustachios and horn rimmed glasses holding his clarinet at a rakish angle. Though not one of the best of the old line klezmer clarinetists, Marty Levitt commanded a unique and atypical repertoire and had a surprisingly literate knowledge of the history of klezmer music and its folklore. It was only his continual resistance to becoming part of the klezmer revival which kept him from being celebrated by a new generation of klezmer afficianados.

He is survived by a son, David, himself an outstanding jazz and klezmer trombonist.

From Hankus Netsky:

So sorry to hear about Marty—he was truly one-of-a-kind. When the "Klezmer Revival" started, he was one of the last guys on the New York scene actively playing the old repertoire—mostly because of his extensive contacts in the survivor community. His recording, "Wedding Dances," is a true standout among klezmer LPs, and he continued to record and perform throughout the 1970s, 80s, and early 90s, until a calcium deposit in his fourth and fifth finger on his left hand made it impossible for him to play the clarinet. As he used to say to me, "For most musicians, their dream was to play on Broadway or at Carnegie Hall. For me, my dream was to play on Pitkin Avenue." That was a dream he more than realized—no one knew as much about the Brooklyn Jewish music scene as Marty. He will truly be missed.

Paula Teitelbaum adds the last note:

He played at our wedding in November 1985.

According to the Discographie of the German book/cd on the Klezmer Revival, von der Khupe zum KlezKamp at least a couple of his LPs, including "Bar Mitzvah Favorites" have been on CD at least at one point.

March 9, 2008

Why Klezmer? by Inna Barmash

In Why Klezmer?, then college-student Inna Barmash, co-founder of the Klez Dispensers wrote an article describing her attraction to the music form. This article was originally published in Princeton University's Nassau Weekly in 1999. What's especially neat is that here it is, almost a decade later. Barmash has extended her reach from klezmer to other Eastern European music, but she is still involved and still a klezmer.

March 8, 2008

New Keith Wolzinger reviews of Brian Bender, Hilda Bronstein

album coverKeith Wolzinger has been reviewing prolifically, again. This is a good thing. He covers a fascinating disk put out by local (well, Western Massachusetts) musician Brian Bender, featuring some of my all-time favorite accompaniests (you know, folks like Alicia Svigals, Frank London, Stu Brotman, KCB's Grant Smith, NY percussion wizard Raquy Danziger, …): Brian Bender & Little Shop of Horas / Eyn Velt, 2008. Not content to stop there, Keith crosses the pond and discovers Hilda Bronstein / Sings Yiddish Songs Old and New, 2007. Hilda is accompanied by that wizard of UK klezmer, Merlin Shepherd, and his quartet. Not a bad pair of CDs to hear, at all. Read all about them here, or on Keith's blog

New klezmer podcasts and blog entries

Keith Wolzinger announces Klezmer Podcast 30, featuring an interview with Eric and Mindy Zaidins, and Kenny Green, of the Westchester Klezmer Program, There are also new reviews, which will be up on the KlezmerShack soon.

You can also catch Keith's MySpace blog where he posts about the cancellation of the Balkan Beat Box U.S. tour. He was planning to see their concert and interview them for the Podcast. He has also posted an upcoming concert by Odessa/Havana.

February 24, 2008

Veretski Pass / Trafik and 3 other reviews by Keith Wolzinger

cd coverJust in time for the official release of the new, highly-anticipated Veretski Pass CD, Trafik, I have posted Keith Wolzinger's review of same. Keith also did a podcast of the band, recorded last summer.

Other new-to-the-KlezmerShack reviews by Wolzinger include:


February 23, 2008

CD Review: Konsonans Retro

CD coverThere are a few things that are certain in the small area of the universe covered by the KlezmerShack. One of those certainties is that if Christian Dawid is involved with a project, I am very likely to put any resulting CD on my "permanent rotation" list. I have noticed this a lot in the last few months as I struggle to find time to review CDs, any CD that I like. Over time, some CDs drop off the "immediate" table. The CD by the most recent band with which Dawid is involved is one that I continue to listen to non-stop: Konsonans Retro / a podolian affair. In this case, there is a happy end. There is a review, and the CD is even still available! Let me encourage you to get your own copy. I'm not loaning you mine.

February 19, 2008

Play along with the Austin Klezmorim and learn some klezmer

From the people who gave us an amazing latke recipe (don't worry; I'll repeat it come Hanuka again), the world's best version of the Purim story, and the Flounder Blues, comes a new video series on YouTube: Play along with the Austin Klezmorim (complete with music on your computer screen). Here's the world-famous Zeltser Vasser:

Catch the whole series, or subscribe to it on Bill Averbach's YouTube channel,

Shirim still putting on a great show, 25 years on

shirimI had big plans this past Sunday. I was going to catch Shirim here in Boston for their 25th Anniversary, and then hightail it down to NYC for the young Michael Winograd CD release party. I got into the car and turned the key and nothing happened. Dead battery. AAA came right out, charged me up, and the car seemed fine, but I felt a bit leery of running down to NYC and possibly coming out of the Workmen's Circle around midnight to discover the battery dead, again.

It was a good enough afternoon, anyway. Shirim were excellent, and the crowd was perfect—a very fine mix of folks my age and older, plus younger people and their kids. It was a very Sunday afternoon friendly-for-kids concert.

When Shirim play concerts these days, they focus more on the theatricality of the music. This can make for some great dancing, but it also means that as the band dips into Jewish jazz greats like Artie Shaw, or "klezzifies" the theme from "Psycho," what we're hearing is slightly transformed from plain dance music. This is music for the sheer fun of it.

I have known the band for only about half their tenure. Glenn and Dave have a few more lines on their faces, but otherwise look an awful lot as they did the first time I saw the band play at Club Passim back in '95 or '96. They are still amazing musicians. In particular, in a world filled with trombone players I could watch all night (and a very few I don't need to hear at all), Dave is still special. I know Eric's drumming better than I did then, and I appreciate it more. His hair has receded a bit. I enjoy watching him as he plays the drums closely, often back straight, just the wrists flashing; sometimes leaning into the kit as though playing percussion. Jim took a couple of years off somewhere in the middle. These days he looks like he's lost some significant weight. Doesn't affect his playing one bit. It still thumps amazingly along.

Michael plays these amazing keyboard and accordion riffs, and seems to be having a lot of fun while he does it. The youngster, and the newest member of the band, is Brandon Seabrook, on banjo. He's the big hair—the Lyle Lovett hair—guy. A keeper.

The band runs through some klezmerized classics, some jazz, lots of American klezmer … despite spinning off originally from the Klezmer Conservatory Band (is that true? Dave was in KCB. The others?), Shirim, in many ways, carries on the tradition of those loud, raucous, joyous guys who kicked off this whole revival in the first place, The Klezmorim.

After the Artie Shaw suite, the kids, dancing in the aisles, shout, "encore," so the band comes back with one of their signature oldies, "Oy tate, s'iz gut" (oh daddy, that's good). And, indeed, one could say that about the entire performance.

An excellent way to spend the afternoon, and still one of my favorite bands.

February 13, 2008

Klezmer Podcast, "Yiddishe Cup"'s Bert Stratton

If there is a band that successfully channels the spirit of the late Mickey Katz, it has to be Yiddishe Cup. Now Keith Wolzinger catches bandleader Bert Stratton in this latest Klezmer Podcast (#29 for those who are counting).

February 11, 2008

New reviews by Keith Wolzinger

CD coverI have been slowly gathering in reviews written by Keith Wolzinger over the last few months. There are many more to come, but in the meantime, check out his wide-ranging examination of the post-klezmer sounds of The Lithuanian Empire, country-Jewish Mare Winningham / Refugee Rock Sublime, Yiddish folk and theatre songs from Hy Wolfe / Yiddish Songs for the Soul, world Jewish music by Montrealer Hélène Engel Trio / Voyage, and new Jewish sounds of another Montrealer, Shelley Posen / Menorah.

February 10, 2008

Two more reviews: London's "A Night in the Old Market" and Brave Old World, "Lodz Ghetto"

cd coverWhile I'm busy promoting reviews on other websites, I should mention a new review put up just last week by first-time KlezmerShack reviewer Anna Torres. Of course, it helps to work with great material, and I think you'll agree that Frank London's latest, the soundtrack to his new opera, "A Night in the Old Market" is outstanding.

cd coverIn the belated reviews and even more belated notice, let me mention an actual review written by yours truly. I've been listening to Brave Old World's "Songs of the Lodz Ghetto" for so many years. First it was live, then, I was listening to the CD and still catching the performances whenever possible (here in the Boston area, that will be in just a couple of weeks). I've been too wrapped up in it. This is one of the most powerful CDs ever recorded, and one of which I never tire. It's about time I passed on the word to others.

George Robinson reviews: Polina Shepherd, Metropolitan Klezmer, Blue Fringe, Romashka video, and more

CD coverAlong with Elliott Simon, George Robinson is the one other reviewer of new Jewish music who continues to publish about a wonderful gamut from the avant garde to klezmer to music from the newer Orthodox-based jam band sounds. Catching up to links that ya'll should have seen months ago, I present: Chanukah: For listening, for giving—klezmer and its cousins, by George Robinson. There are video clips from several bands, as well as reviews. Enjoy!

Elliott Simon reviews: Metropolitan Klezmer, Red Hot Chachkas, Lori Cahan-Simon

CD coverWith great frustration, I look at reviews and tips that I wanted to get online two months ago. Hold them for next year? Present them now? The latter wins. After all, these are great CDs, reviewed by Elliott Simon, which means that the reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and intelligent. So, travel back a skip in time and consider Simon's article, Happy Chanukah 2007, from All About Jazz, Dec 8, 2007.

Two Yale Strom reviews in "All About Jazz"

CD coverGifted Jazz/Jewish music reviewer Elliott Simon does a two-fer on recent Yale Strom albums in last month's All About Jazz. He discusses Strom's most recent klezmer effort with his New York band, Hot Pstromi, and a different effort with several of the Radical Jewish music crowd, Dveykes:

Trailblazing with Tradition, by Elliott Simon, Dec 12, 2007

February 8, 2008

Veretski Pass interview from Oct 2007

Ates Temeltas, who run's the band's label, sent this Veretski Pass interview to me month's ago, but it's still good video. It also includes footage of the band playing:

Prior to their concert at California State University, Sacramento [in October 2007], members of Veretski Pass were interviewed by the producers from MusiqBase website. Here is the link to the first part of that interview in which Cookie, Josh and Stu talk about the background of music performed by Veretski Pass.

February 7, 2008

The weirdest klezmer review so far

So, what happens when a deep south wanna be literature major (or something) meets klezmer for the first time? Joel Rubin posts this link to a review of a concert he gave with Pete Rushefsky down in Charlottesville, VA.

oel Rubin and Pete Rushefsky, Gravity Lounge; Tuesday January 29, by Brendan Fitzgerald

February 3, 2008

Klezmerola - Klezmer piano roll recordings released on CD

Klezmerola CD coverCleveland native ‘on a roll’ with new klezmer piano CD, by Vivian Witt, Special to the Cleveland Jewish News.

“Klezmerola,” a brand-new CD created by native Clevelander Bob Berkman, makes it possible for the first time ever to hear Jewish recordings from a long-neglected source: old player piano rolls.

Included in the CD is the only Jewish roll by George Gershwin, recorded in 1916 and long thought lost. There is also music from the world of klezmer, highlighting Russian-born Samuel A. Perlstein. … [The CD] comes with a 16-page booklet. For information, visit wwwklezmer

For more, read the article in the Cleveland Jewish News

New Klezmer Clarinet forum

Internationally acclaimed mensh (and incidentally, acclaimed klezmer clarinetist) Merlin Shepherd writes the Jewish-Music list to note a new klezmer clarinet forum, nestled among other forums dedicated to the clarinet in other world music settings. Shepherd's most recent CD, last year's Intimate Hopes & Terrors, is an excellent example of the clarinet in such a setting, so his advice to check out the new forum should be heeded:

Just to let any clarinetists amongst us know that there is a brand new section of the Greek and Turkish clarinet forum dedicated to Klezmer clarinet. I'm moderating it, so you'll be on friendly ground straight away!

If any of you want to go there then we can all discuss the various issues involved … subjects currently under scrutiny include: Ornamentation, Phrasing, Tonality, Timbre and general technical section Vocal Ornaments transferred to instrumental playing Repertoire, Genres and Crossover. There's also a category dedicated to Jewish cooking!

February 2, 2008

Konsonans Retro and others in Helsinki Jam

For those (myself included) who can't get enough of Konsonans Retro, here's a jam session from the Helsinki Klezmer Fest with members of that band, Kharkov Klezmer (another set of amazing folks) and more, forward to the Jewish-Music list by usual provocateur, Christian David:

Christian continued, "Here's another groovy Moldavian tune from the same session:"

February 1, 2008

Sponsors sought for Annette Brodovsky memorial benefit, Davis, CA, Feb 10, 2008

A 3-part concert to benefit the family of the Freilachmakers' former fiddler, Annette Brodovsky, will take place on Sunday February 10th, 3 pm, in the sanctuary of Congregation Bet Haverim, 1715 Anderson Road in Davis. As you may remember, Annette was tragically killed by a drunk driver on the eve of Pesach, just this past April. Three top Northern California klezmer bands, including the Davis Klezmer Orchestra, The Freilachmakers Klezmer String Band and the Red Hot Chachkas (from Marin County), will be participating. Details and contact information appear in the press release reprinted below.

Please note that we are actively seeking sponsors. Sponsors can choose donation levels ($50, $100, $500, $1000, $2500), which entitles them to concert tickets ($20 each) equivalent to their contribution. They will also have their name published in the program unless they specify not. Checks should be payable to Congregation Bet Haverim, with a notation on the check that the donation is for the Annette Brodovsky fund, and sent to the congregation at 1715 Anderson Road, Davis, CA 95616.

For more information about the concert, see the KlezmerShack calendar

January 30, 2008

Klezmatics live on Italian radio, Fri, Feb 1, 2008

Lorin Sklamberg writes the Jewish-Music list:

… at the last minute we found out that tonight's supposedly live concert was taped for broadcast on Friday night (gut shabes, everyone!). Of course, it'll still be afternoon in the U.S…

So, it'll be broadcast/webcast on Friday, January 30, 9:30-10:30pm Milan time at

Flying Bulgars 20th Anniversary concert, Toronto, Canada, Feb 9,10, 2008

For a number of years I had an arrangement with one of my oldest friends. She'd fly out to California, where her mother (and, I) lived and we'd celebrate American Thanksgiving. And then I'd fly to Toronto to celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving. One year she neglected to tell me that we were preparing Thanksgiving dinner for a couple hundred of our closest friends following a rally in support of First Nations' rights in Canada. It was tremendous fun (despite succotash made of frozen vegetables.) One year I noticed a CD by a band that featured one of my favorite folk fiddlers, Anne Lederman. Indeed, it was Toronto's first klezmer band, and they were excellent. In subsequent years the band moved from traditional klezmer to world klezmer fusion, but better than almost anyone I can think of making a similar journey. Led by trumpeter David Buchbinder (in whose honor Frank London is sometimes referred to as "the American David Buchbinder), featuring the last decade the voice of David Wall—if these guys were an American band, Wall and Buchbinder would be as well known as Loren Sklamberg and Michael Alpert—the band is going through changes, again. For their 20th anniversary, they are doing two concerts to show off and celebrate:

band in concert

The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
20th Anniversary Concert
at the Al Green Theatre (in the Miles Nadal JCC) 750 Spadina Ave

Saturday, February 9th, 8pm & Sunday, February 10th, 7:30pm
Tickets: $24 in advance, $30 at the door
Tickets available at Miles Nadal JCC reception, and by phone 416-924-6211 x 0

More info on the KlezmerShack "Jewish music around the world" calendar.

Michael Winograd Klezmer Ensemble CD Release, NYC, Feb 17, 2008

Suppose you can't be here in the Boston area on the 17th? (Suppose you're crazy like me and might even drive down from the Boston area to NYC after the Shirim gig that day?) Then, you really want to be in NYC. Winograd's first klezmer band, Khevre was a favorite of mine. But his new ensemble, and the new CD, kick ass way beyond that. This is new klezmer, in traditional style, featuring some of the best folks around, playing incredibly tightly. Don't be silly. Don't live the rest of your life regretting that you could have been at this party, and just didn't make it….

CD coverSunday, February 17th Michael Winograd and his Klezmer Ensemble celebrate the release of their new CD "Bessarabian Hop" with a Big CD release party/bash/concert/extravaganza!!!

this will take place at the Workmen's Circle, in NYC! (on Sunday, Feb 17th)
that's at 45 E. 33rd Street (off Park Ave)
that's at 8pm (with doors open at 7ish)
that's $10
that's alot of fun!!!!

More info on the KlezmerShack "Jewish music anywhere in the world" calendar.

Shirim 25th Anniversary concert, Arlington, MA, Feb 17, 2008

Glenn summarizes band history, below, but I should mention that Shirim is one of the reasons I wound up in the Boston area. I was in town on business and saw them at Club Passim back in 1996. It was the performance at which they announced that they were splitting in two: Shirim would continue to play traditional klezmer (including the very traditional klezmer nutcracker), and Naftule's Dream would be the name of their avant garde ensemble (the name followed the title of their second CD). Seing them in person was incredible. I still haven't forgiven the little "Toad" bar for cancelling their monthly Naftule's Dream gig. The band has changed in the dozen years since I've known them (and even more over 25 years). They played my wedding. We run into each other as we try to catch exciting music around town. I've never heard them perform less than wonderfully, so this (and the following two posts) is the first of three concerts that I absolutely don't want to miss—and which I not so humbly submit, you don't want to miss, either:

shirimCan you believe it? It is time for the 25th Anniversary concert of Shirim on Feb. 17, 2:00 at the Regent Theater, 7 Medford St., Arlington, MA. Tickets are $12.50, $8 for seniors and kids. Call the box office at (781) 646-4849 for tickets or visit We are keeping the price low in the spirit of celebration and because we are making a video of the concert and want to have you there! Buy your tickets early!

more info

January 12, 2008

Klezmatics in Rome, Jan 22, 2008

Woody Guthrie mosaicMarc Di Martino caught this one on his blog. The Klezmatics are coming back to Rome and playing a bigger venue than ever: "This time they're playing the prestigious Auditorium."

Klezmatics Back in Rome!

Rudy Tepel, o"h

Rudy TepelItzik Gottesman posted to the Jewish-Music mailing list this week that long-time bandleader Rudy Tepel passed away a few weeks ago. Hankus Netsky writes: "Rudy played with great passion and feeling. He actually started out as a dixieland player, but joined the Hassidic scene, since it fit his Orthodox lifestyle better. He was featured with 'Neginah' for a while and later was one of the best clarinetists playing the klezmer rep with Klezmer Plus in the early revival era. He made three excellent recordings on Westminster, which his son put out on CD, 'Chassidic Wedding,' 'Lubavitcher Wedding,' and 'Bobover Wedding.' [Recordings re-released just a few years ago, and reviewed on the KlezmerShack by Matt Temkin: /articles/temkin /tepel/temkin.tepel.html.]

For more information, there is a website devoted to Rudy's music:

December 8, 2007

"Shtreiml," live at Common Fence Music, RI

Okay. By now you'll have gathered that I am infatuated with Shtreiml. I contend that it is with good reason. Listen to their CDs and read the concert review that follows and decide for yourselves. And, for now, no more features about them for a little while. Even though, a week later, I can still see Lemisch's trombone and hear Arsenault's incredible drumming and all the rest....

On a lucky break, I discovered that there was going to be a Shtreiml concert last Saturday night down in Portsmouth, RI. As folks who caught my write-up of the band's appearance with Golem and SoCalled last year will know, I find their performances quite exciting. The only thing better, perhaps, than their CDs. This particular set was sponsored by an organization called "Common Fence," which sponsors a whole series of excellent folkies/blues/traditional music groups ranging from (looking at what's on tap over the next few months) the blues of Roy Bookbinder to the excellent folk of Patty Larkin and Catie Curtis. The events take place is a lovely meeting hall seeming out in the middle of nowhere to a Boston driving trying to find the place at the last minute, just off the highway in the dark.

Continue reading ""Shtreiml," live at Common Fence Music, RI" »

November 13, 2007

Call for papers: "Music of Yiddishkayt"; Deadline 3 Dec 2007

Dear friends and colleagues!

The new issue of Jewish musical annual "Music of Yiddishkayt" is being
prepared. We announce a call for papers.

The annual "Music of Yiddishkayt" is published in Russian. Its volume is 240 -260 pages. It is dedicated to Klezmer music and Yiddish song, this will be the 4th issue. It is not a scientific publication, we focus on combining a research and popular view of subject. We try to make a book interesting for both a newcomer to Yiddish music, for "an experienced klezmer" and a person who just want to throw a glance at this culture
(and maybe - to stay with us). Among the authors are: Psoy Korolenko, Dmitry Slepovich, Polina Sheperd, Efim Cherny, Zhenya Lopatnik, Evgeny(she) Khazdan, Nina Stepanskaya, Jeffrey Veidlinger, Anna Shternshis, Alexandr Ivanov, Adrianne Cooper, Anatoly Pinsky and others.

Continue reading "Call for papers: "Music of Yiddishkayt"; Deadline 3 Dec 2007" »

November 8, 2007

New Winograd neo-trad klezmer CD--release party, Nov 12

Those who know Michael Winograd from his favorite current project, "Infection," or even from his klezmer-jazz band, Khevre may not have noticed that he sounds so good as an innovator because he plays traditional klezmer so well. Now he's put together a CD of new music in traditional styles. You can check it out next week in Pennsylvania:

CD cover Michael Winograd Klezmer Ensemble
@ Milkboy Accoustic Cafe, Bryn Mawr, Pensylvania
824 Lancaster Ave,
Nov 12, 7pm

This will be the first show that Winograd's new CD 'Bessarabian Hop' will be publicly available

w/ Michael Winograd - clarinet
Patrick Farrell - accordion
Daniel Blacksberg - trombone
Nick Cudahy - bass

November 4, 2007

new blog: "Learning Tsymbaly"

From Dan Carkner comes word of a new blog:

I've been working on a blog about klezmer, Learning Tsymbaly, and learning the tsimbl/tsymbaly from an amateur Canadian point of view. I usually play klezmer music on it, but I'm also interested in Ukrainian-Canadian tsymbaly music.

October 23, 2007

Yale Strom's The Absolutely Complete Klezmer Songbook, reviewed by Eric Zaidins

book coverYale Strom
The Absolutely Complete Klezmer Songbook

Format: Paperback, 420pp.
ISBN: 0807409472
Pub. Date: October 1, 2006
Publisher: Transcontinental Music Publications
$49.95 from URJ Press (
Also available from and fine vendors everywhere

And if you want to know why this might matter, read Eric Zaidins' review now.

New CD Review: Red Hot Chachkas / Spice it up!

Pretty snazzy woodcut - spicy, indeed!I have corresponded with Julie Egger since the days of her first band. It gives me great pleasure to review this latest CD by the Red Hot Chachkas. I am in awe. Like their Sacramento colleagues, the Freilachmakers, this band consists of great musicians who have been playing together forever and it shows. (I might add that after this CD was recorded, Glenn Hartman, formerly of the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars, also joined the group.) I highly recommend that you give Spice it up! a good listen. I suspect that you'll wind up with your own copy, and so will your friends.

October 20, 2007

Four new CD reviews--Keith Wolzinger on Vira Lozinsky, KlezFactor, Den Flygande Bokrullen, Budowitz

As I review less, a couple of KlezmerShack regulars have stepped in to fill the breach. Their taste is impeccable—I am jealous that they have beaten me to the punch on some stunning new releases. First up is Keith Wolzinger, whose name will be recognized by fans of the Klezmer Podcast:

album coverVira Lozinsky, a Moldova-born Israel immigrant, is a fresh voice in the world of Yiddish song. This is the Yiddish of native speakers, not that of those who simply pick up the lyrics and learn the pronunciation. In fact, nearly half of these songs are from the hand of Lozinsky's father, Yiddish poet Michael Felsenbaum…. There's more. Check out Keith's full review of Vayte Shtern (Distant Stars)

Continue reading "Four new CD reviews--Keith Wolzinger on Vira Lozinsky, KlezFactor, Den Flygande Bokrullen, Budowitz" »

October 14, 2007

Andy Rubin interviewed about old time banjo and klezmer, July 2007

From Andy Rubin of the Freilachmakers, the wonderful klezmer/celtic fusionistas from Sacramento, CA:

"This doesn't happen too often to klezmer banjo players—so since it did, I thought you might be interested (see PDF attached to our website). The interview appeared in the July 2007 issue of The Banjo Newsletter, a monthly for banjo fanatics of all stripes."

[I'll add that Andy talks about the claw hammer banjo, klezmer, and the issue even has a review of the most recent Freilachmakers CD. Nice interview. ari]

October 7, 2007

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.

Continue reading "Khevre in joyous reunion; fundraiser for Leukemia Research" »

Krakow 2007

Dan Blacksberg, Alex Kontorovich, Mark Rubin. Photo: Bob BlacksbergSpeaking of festivals, this year's Krakow festival provided inspiration to a rather sarcastic (in some ways) article in the forward (Krakow Jewish Fest Features Notable Absence: Jews, by Rukhl Schaechte, Wed. Jul 11, 2007) about what if they gave a Jewish music festival and most of the Jews in the area were the performers? I dunno. I mean, have you ever gone to a blues festival and looked at how little of the audience is black? (But we don't have an official killing program against blacks; we seem to be headed, slowly in that direction given the high percentage of blacks killed in urban violence, not to mention the high percentage of black men who are or have been in prison, but that is merely unjust, inequitable, and evil—it's still many orders of magnitude away from the Holocaust.)

So, where was I? The Krakow Music festival this past summer. As I catch up on my correspondence, I realize that several people wrote very movingly about various aspects of the festival this year. So, this being the KlezmerShack, I have gathered the pieces together. A couple of the articles are here on the KlezmerShack, even:

September 28, 2007

Klezmer Brass Allstars from 2002, PLUS Gangbe Brass

Mark Rubin discovered this—the wonderful Old Town school in Chicago, breeding ground of so much damn good music—dug through their box of tapes and has begun digitizing:

Their description reads: "Another from The Vault (which I guess is what we’re calling the boxes in the basement now), this one from October 28th, 2002. An all-brass Klezmer band is a concept easy enough to get your head around (and this one is great, don’t get me wrong), but an African brass band is a mind-blower. It’s Earth, Wind & Fire meets King Sunny Ade. I kid you not. Video direction by Bob Medich."

Gangbe Brass Band & Klezmer All-Stars

September 27, 2007

News catchup: Elaine Hoffman Watts NEA National Heritage Fellowship

Announced back in June is the delightful, and much deserved news that drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts recently won a prestigious NEA National Heritage Fellowship:

Elaine Hoffman WattsElaine's profile from the award page:

Elaine Hoffman Watts' family came to the United States from a town near Odessa in the former Soviet Union. Her father, Jacob Hoffman, was a prominent member of a klezmer band that was recorded in the 1920s. Elaine received training from her father and uncles in the family's repertoire of polkas, freilachs, mazurkas, shers, and other tunes of Eastern European Jewish musical tradition. She became the first woman graduate in percussion from the Curtis Institute of Music. With many opportunities before her, Watts chose to maintain the three-generation family tradition of playing klezmer music at weddings, bar mitzvahs, and other social events. She points out that being a woman and a drummer often was a barrier in her career but as one klezmer scholar observes, "Elaine is an important role-model to young players who otherwise would have no clue that women were indeed a part of traditional Yiddish music. Because those of us who study traditional Yiddish culture have no homeland in Europe to which we can return, we rely heavily on the 78-rpm recordings that were made during the early years of the 20th century. The vast majority of musicians on those recordings were men, and Elaine's presence is critical in redressing this imbalance."

Review of latest Budowitz album in Songlines Magazine

Ates Temeltas, Golden Horn Baalbayis, wrote (last June):

Budowitz / Live CD cover - mighty fishy!Latest issue of Songlines magazine (July/August 2007) features a review of the new Budowitz CD by Simon Broughton, the editor. This new album has been selected as one of the Top of the World albums.

Here is the first and last sentence of the review: "Budowitz are surely the best band playing old-time Jewish instrumental music from Eastern Europe around right now....Throughout the disc the music is raw and gutsy ­ played with great artistry and a sense of fun."

Complete review is available at: There are also 3 tracks from the album in the compilation CD that comes with the magazine. This is where you can find more info on the album:

August 7, 2007

Khevre Reunion/Benefit set for Oct. 7, 2007, Cambridge, MA

Paraphrasing a bit from a recent email from Michael Winograd:

band photo

Your help is needed for a very important happening

Carmen Staaf, accordionist from Khevre is putting on a special benefit concert on October 7th (sunday) in Boston at the Lily Pad. It's a benefit for the leukemia and lymphoma foundation.

Although were not really playing anymore, the guys and gals in Khevre thought this was the right time to come together for another show—it will be our first in boston in 2 years, and we really want to spread the word about it.

To help, for for more information, email Michael Winograd.

June 30, 2007

Marty Schwartz, Budowitz, KlezCalifornia on video

Martin Schwartz; image from KQEDItzik Gottesman posted this to the Jewish-Music list. It's a dynamite ~7 minute clip from the Bay Area's KQED on the Klezmer Revival today, and about the most recent KlezCalifornia featuring Budowitz:

It's a segment from the KQED show, Spark(?) This aired in June, 2007:

"We don’t quite understand how it’s gone on for decades and continues to be vital." —Martin Schwartz

After I posted this yesterday, Marty Schwartz e-mailed with his own evaluation of the piece:

"Hi , Ari! Hope yr doing welll. You may share/forward this; please do, actually.

"Pity they didn't play (prob. due to considerations of time) the proto-jazz trumpet doina solo prefacing the upbeat tune on the 1st record I present (it's all on my Arhoolie klezmer reissue, cut 6, Orchestre Goldberg on a Greek disk of 1908 Istanbul.

"Dunno who came up with the bit about band not stopping til the dancers 'shvits'.

"Apparently it was meant to supply a little quasi-Yiddish coloration (as though Yiddish shvits is more funky than the more widespread saline exudate called 'sweat').

"I think was excellently done (I had fun, too), like the other shows in the Spark series."

June 24, 2007

Seattle's "Kesselgarden" on YouTube

Carl Shutoff writes from Seattle:

Kesselgarden (Carl Shutoff on clarinet and Laurie Andres on accordion) is on YouTube. See an excerpt from our CD release event and see us perform a Goldenshteyn medley at the 2007 Northwest Folklife Festival in Seattle.

Can't fault the band's name. That's where my great grandfather entered these shores (and according to family legend, got his last name).

June 16, 2007

New Reviews: Pharaoh's Daughter, Fred Katz, Shtreiml

album coverFinding time to listen to new music, much less time to review it, has become a major challenge. In today's mail two reasons arrived that help explain why I try to keep it happening, however sparseley. And, lest I despair, thoroughly, about catching up on some of the mind-blowing music that has been accumulating, I determine to be late for dinner and share one more.

Continue reading "New Reviews: Pharaoh's Daughter, Fred Katz, Shtreiml" »

June 9, 2007

Weimar Yiddish Summer, Weimar, Germany, Jul 9 - Aug 9

Weimar Yiddish SummerThe Weimar Yiddish Summer, runs this year from July 9 through August 9 in Weimar, Germany.

For further information,

May 13, 2007

Nist Grammy: WIRTUALNE GESLE 2007: Minsker K and P Brody

Once again, I rely on Roger Reid for the best writing on interesting new music in Eastern Europe:

I'm never a fan of stuff like Grammies and that, but I may well cast my vote in WIRTUALNE GESLE 2007, to select the Best "Ethnic" CD of 2007 in Poland.

cd coverAside: (I guess in Poland, "Ethnic" means something a little different than in the US? I don't see any traditional Polish bands here, but the Gypsies, Varied Karpatihians, Jews—I mean, Klezmers, (I forgot, klezmer isn’t Jewish in Europe, I'm still stuck in my parocial views…) only question I have—would Bluegrass qualify as Ethnic in a Polish competition?))

Anyhow, as far as I see, the one Jewish—I mean, Klezmer—entry is the fabulous double-CD-packaged-as-if-it-were-an-LP put out by FERMENT—one CD of Paul Brody's Sadawi and one of Reb Zisl-Yeysef's Minsker Kapelye.

Continue reading "Nist Grammy: WIRTUALNE GESLE 2007: Minsker K and P Brody" »

March 14, 2007

TRANSKAPELA (Poland) - new record and new concerts - available all Year 2007

CD coverDear Friends,

I am glad to inform you that in January 2007 a new record "OVER THE VILLAGE" was presented by Transkapela group.

After the success of our first album—SOUNDS & SHADOWS, which was rewarded with a title of the best Polish folk record 2005 year in the Polish Radio record competition as the Folk Phonogram of the Year Award, it is time for the next disc of the band.

The OVER THE VILLAGE record is the continuation of the musical imagination about the times of Klezmers from the Carpathians. Musicians of TRANSKAPELA, once again reaches to the roots of the Carpathian music, searches once more for the trace of the village klezmers and musicians splendour, who separately and together played on village weddings, religious holidays and festivities.

Continue reading "TRANSKAPELA (Poland) - new record and new concerts - available all Year 2007" »

February 28, 2007

Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys on YouTube

It's one of the few entries on YouTube of klezmer music actually tagged "klezmer." Wish it were longer. Margot introduces the band at the end, including one of the folks currently touring with returnee to the Jewish fold Jorma Kaukonen (who can be any religion he so chooses, so long as he doesn't stop playing blues ;-).)

February 25, 2007

Veretski Pass on the radio

Veretski Pass was in the Midwest last week for concerts and workshops in Madison WI and Urbana-Champagne IL.

Prior to Tuesday¹s concert at the campus of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne, they were guests at the radio program "Focus 580 with David Inge". This almost an hour long program features conversation and live music with Veretski Pass and is available on line as a mp3 file:

Radio Program¹s page:

Direct link to mp3 file:

Kitka and Davka on PBS; available also on DVD

Tzadik recordings artists Davka have been working on an interesting fusion of new Jewish music for a decade, fusing classical training and traditions with klezmer, yiddish, sephardic, and middle eastern sounds. A few years ago they appeared at the Berkeley Jewish Music Festival with an amazing women's Balkan chorus, Kitka. I have been a fan of the latter almost since their inception in 1979 and treasure my cassette copy of their first release. In a PBS special that aired in December 2006, the two groups appeared together, again. There are also some interviews with members of the two ensembles about Jewish music and what it is to them. Kitka performs a wide variety of Jewish, primarily Sephardic music, while Davka also delivers a very nice live performance. They close with a few numbers together and are joined by Cantor Stephen Saxon (KlexX). It's a lovely program. If your PBS station hasn't yet aired it, encourage them to do so. Or, purchase a DVD (more interviews, songs) yourself.

For more information, visit the filmmakers' website,
kitka and davka live

November 27, 2006

Preview: Merlin Shepherd Kapelye / Intimate Hopes & Terrors

I love this cover, but for the subtitle set in something nondescript at the bottomMerlin Shepherd Kapelye / Intimate Hopes and Terrors: Tales from the Kishkes. Oriente Musik, RIEN CD 58, 2006. Available from Oriente Express
I met Merlin Shepherd about ten years ago at KlezKamp. He was an awesome clarinet player then. He has gotten scarily better. On this outing he gathered up a posse of so-far-unknown-to-the-west klezmer players of the former Soviet Union. The ones you find jamming non-stop at the Klezmer festivals and blowing everyone's minds. These guys already knew the repertoire from KlezKamp, so Merlin wrote new stuff. This is the sort of CD I've been waiting for, for years. New klezmer music. But, at this first listen (the CD only arrived today), it's klezmer that manages to sound both traditional, but also as though it were written this year (which it was). This isn't the worshipful, "I can write like the old guys" klezmer. This is the "okay, the old folks stole all our best ideas. let's work on some new ideas" klezmer. Must get the word out now. May have more to say once the CD has sunk in. You can catch some tracks at Merlin's MySpace page.

September 10, 2006

Wrapping up Ashkenaz, one week later

ashkenaz festival logo This was a good Ashkenaz. It doesn't have that edge that the early festivals had, but Mitch Smolkin managed to pull together an incredibly diverse festival, one that contained a lot to please the crowds, but which also provided a neat snapshot of Jewish music, primarily of that side of Jewish music that derives primarily from Eastern Europe. It was the sort of festival where we went from Marilyn Lerner and Adrienne Cooper presenting Anna Margolin's poetry in a new, avantgarde artsong setting, to two sessions featuring MacArthur grantee Ben Katchor, to Israeli Sephardic phenomenon Yasmin Levy. And that doesn't begin to encompass the diversity of what we saw. At the finale, Mitch introduced his stepping down, and his replacement, charged with outdoing all of this in 2008, KlezKanada staffer and Beyond the Pale bandleader Eric Stein. It would be hard to imagine a better choice.

The Ashkenaz MarketplaceIn terms of trends, I have to note that in addition to the Lerner-Cooper artsong, one of the festival's few "edge" moments, Teresa Tova had a release party for a CD of living Yiddish poet/songwriter Beyle Schaechter-Gottesman's songs; Lenka Lichtenberg and Brian Katz had a release party for a new CD of settings of the poetry of Simcha Simchovitch; while poet Adeena Karasick presented her own work in a multimedia show; and Adrienne Cooper (who led the singers in the Ashkenaz parade and brought a show about painter Marc Chagall to the festival) hosted new settings of Yiddish poetry in settings created by young artists in Eastern Europe. This feels like the largest collection of new Yiddish music in one place at one time, maybe in my lifetime.

Continue reading "Wrapping up Ashkenaz, one week later" »

August 30, 2006

Alicia Svigals on fire - catching up on amazing performances

Alicia SvigalsWhile I was wrestling with too damn many things to do this summer (not entirely done wrestling), I took an evening out to see Alicia Svigals Fidl Express at Johnny D's here in the Boston area on August 3rd. While it's known that I am an avid fan of Svigals' playing, I have to say that this was even better than I expected.

The evening started on a promising note with the bluegrass/jazz of fiddler Matt Glazer (Wayfaring Strangers, among other bands). In a tour that ranged from Barzilian music to Americana, Glazer was spot on, and inspired by great music, we were ready for more.

Svigals came out smoking, joined by the wonderful Mimi Rabson on fiddle, with Pete Rushefsky on tsimbl, Jim Guttmann on bass, and I know I'm forgetting someone. Damn it was a good concert. The longer the ensemble plays together, sporadically as they play together, the tighter and more exciting they get. And Svigals was just on fire.

Thank you to everyone who played, and to the audience that came to listen (and just a little, to dance—we need more dancing!)

June 12, 2006

German Goldenshteyn, a"h

Pete Rushefsky has posted this to the Jewish-Music mailing list for Michael Alpert

Dear Friends / Tayere khaverim,

With deep, deep grief and a enormous feeling of loss, I am writing to inform all in the Yiddish/klezmer community that German Goldenshteyn, master Bessarabian traditional clarinetist and a dear, dear friend and colleague since shortly after his arrival in Brooklyn from Ukraine in 1994, died yesterday morning (Sat, June 10), apparently of a sudden heart attack, just one week short of his 72nd birthday.

Continue reading "German Goldenshteyn, a"h" »

June 4, 2006

New reviews on the KlezmerShack start with Israel music

CD coverIt started with a new Rough Guide release, this time, the Rough Guide to the music of Israel. It is really good. I don't mention it very often, but I first began writing about Jewish music as a reviewer for the Jerusalem Post back in the late 1970s. By then I had spent years doing community theatre and hanging out with musicians in Israel. I didn't write for the Post long—it was difficult to focus on a gig writing for a newspaper that I shunned reading—but I have never lost my love for Israeli music and its diversity. This recording captures a good slice of that diversity, as updated and compiled just a couple of months ago. There is also an interview with the compiler on the CD, playable on a computer via webbrowser. Although a Jewish lad growing up in a Zionist home, the compiler seems ignorant of most details of modern Jewish history. But he has enough generalities generally right that this, too, forms a good introduction to Israeli music, overall. Those who let their ears get them into trouble will dig more deeply.

CD coverThe problem was that I got so wrapped up in the first CD, that I had to spend time with that Idan Raichel CD that I've been meaning to write about for years: 2002's Idan Raichel Project. I find this the most mind-blowing Israeli CD in years. In some ways, it reminds of of Ofra Haza's early work, an explosion of traditional sounds transformed for this time and place. It also reminds me of my favorite Israeli band of the '90s, the Ethnix. But it's also it's own original sound, building on Israeli and world music, with everything from reggae to hip hop, inflected by Raichel's Ethiopian roots. Wonderful.

CD coverBy now I was in trouble, so I also polished off a review of the relatively recent release of the final album by Israeli jazz masters, The Platina: Platina / Girl with the Flaxen Hair. Released back in 2003 as part of tributes to bandleader Roman Kunsman who had just passed away, this is material that was original recording in 1976 and then lost. The studio mangled most of the original tapes, then the band broke up. And we all moved on, remembering the concerts and the transformed Debussey of the title track. I have tried to begin to describe how good it sounds, even now, 30 years later. This is a must-have CD for anyone remotely interested in jazz or jazz-rock or Debussey.

CD coverThere is something about Philadelphia Jews. I've said this before, but with the release of Klingon Klezmer / Blue Suede Jews, it bears repeating. This is, after all, the home of Benny and the Vilda Chayas. But it's also Hankus Netsky's home turf. It's the city that gave us not only Anthony Coleman, but also nth generation straight-ahead klezmorim like Rachel Lemish and Susan Watts. This latest excursion by the Klingons is a delightful, zany, and damn fine exploriation of the psychedelic side of klezmer.

CD coverThe 10th Anniversary of the first Masada material has prompted a wonderful re-examination of that work by a wide variety of artists. I confess to being among the few who find Zorn's Masada okay, but don't have a great need to own each volume. On the other hand, listening to Jon Madof and his noisemakers, er, Rashanim, transform some of the material is entirely different. 2005's Rashanim / Masada Rock, Vol. 5 is going to be part of your essential Masada collection.

CD coverLadies and gentlemen, for another take on the extraordinary John Zorn/Masada material, may I offer you the totally flipped, amazing Koby Israelite / Orobas: Book of Angels Vol. 4, 2006.

CD coverAnd, finally, in a nod to everything that I didn't have time to listen to today, all of which is at least htis good, I offer one last fusion, the world music band Asefa, house band to Sam Thomas' Brooklyn-based "Jewish Awareness through Music" organization. Samuel Thomas / Asefa, 2005. Same bass-player, incidentally, as with Jon Madof's Rashanim. These folks get around!

I can't believe how many CDs are crying out for attention and didn't get any today. Stay tuned. I'll try to do this again, real soon now. I have to. The pile fell over last week. Everything is confused, and until I get some reviews written and some CDs put away, I've lost use of my favorite reading chair.

April 16, 2006

The writeups: The 2006 Boston Jewish Music mini-fest/KCB Reunion/KlezmerShack 10th Anniversary celebration

KlezmerShack 10th AnniversaryIt took Passover to find time to do it. Now that I've taken down the storm windows, picked up some mulch for the yard, I can sit down and write. So, not only have I written about the KCB Reunion, but so have Dena Ressler (originally posted to the Jewish Music list) and Nancy Metashvili (email to friends).

I also want to acknowledge the few volunteers whose names I have: Ruby, Dena Ressler, Freddie, Becky Kaplan, Marc Adler, the workshop leaders, and all the volunteers whose names I don't have. Ya'll made it possible, and made the event a pleasure.

In the meantime, of course, planning is proceeding on next year's festival. Drop me a line if you'd like to be involved.

April 15, 2006

Klezfest 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jun 17-22, 2006

festival photo

The Center for Jewish Music of the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg is proud to announce "KlezFest St. Petersburg 2006," an international seminar on the traditional music of Eastern European Jewry, to be held June 17-22, 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia.

For more information, please contact the Jewish Community Center of St. Petersburg via email or visit our site
Phones: +7 812 713 3889, 571 6440

For advice on travel and visa arrangements, contact our American sponsor, the Jewish Community Development Fund in Russia and Ukraine, a project of the American Jewish World Service (New York), via telephone: (+1-212) 273-1642, or AJWS New York.

Continue reading "Klezfest 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia, Jun 17-22, 2006" »

April 12, 2006

A Happy Klezmer Passover to all

Here are three fun seder music things (and some bonus factoids) in honor of tonight's seder.

What I like about Jew is a new Jewish satire group that sounds kind of funny, the way that the Leevees were funny—"we don't know anything about being Jewish that we like, but we kind of like being Jewish and poking fun." My memory suggests that one of the duo, Rob Tannenbaum, is also the author of the hit single, "Hanuka with Monica" from a few years ago. You can hear a song off their first CD, and an interview with Terry Gross, at

new album coverIt's been a few years since DJ SoCalled released the original Hip Hop Seder. That was pretty neat. I think that after the runaway success of the HipHopHasene album, SoCalled got signed to JDub—home of Balkan Beat Box and original home of Matisyahu, and got to remake this. Either I didn't remember how good the original was, or the remake is pretty extraordinary, or both. It features the usual crowd, from David Krakauer to Matisyahu. This is worth playing to get the family ready tonight, or anytime during the year when you need a slight reconstruction of what "seder" means.

It wouldn't be Passover if we didn't mention the crossover hit by one of our favorite klezmer bands, Maxwell Street Klezmer's "Matzorena".

And finally, Inna Barmash just posted to the Jewish-Music list:

The New Yorker on Gershon Kingsley's Haggadah Da-Vida

"Most Jewish music—'My Yiddishe Mama,' 'Sunrise, Sunset'—is hardly music you race to listen to on a voluntary basis," Bennett said. "And then you hear Gersh, sounding a little bit Kraftwerk, with a dash of Styx thrown in for good measure. If this was playing in synagogue, we would go every week."

April 3, 2006

Jack Kessler brings out the Klingon in Brookline

latest Klingon Klezmer CDThere was a Shabbaton at my synagogue this past Shabbes with Rabbi Marcia Prager and her husband, Cantor Jack Kessler. Not being someone who davens best in a prayer session, I convinced Judy to come with me for Havdalah and a kickass concert by Jack, his son, and local musicians such as Dena Ressler.

I should mention that I really like Jack's cantorial and Middle Eastern CDs, but the real fun lies in the recordings by his simkha ensemble, the aptly named Klingon Klezmer. And at Temple Beth Zion, Jack managed to infuse a skilled group of pick-up musicians with the Klingon Klezmer fun in a short set that covered familiar repertoire in an unusually energetic and danceably entertaining manner. A delightful time was had by all.

And I am left wondering about the Philadelphia Jewish music scene. It isn't just the Klingons. It's Ken Ulansey's amazing band, and Benny & the Vilda Chayas and the Watts family women and Rachel Lemisch—and lest I forget, this is the town that gave us Hankus Netsky and Charlie Berg and Anthony Coleman and more. Some mighty interesting music happening there.

And while you wait for me to do an official review, you can take my word for it that the new Klingon Klezmer CD is as wonderful a mix of klezmer as done by people who may have taken more drugs than the rest of us during the Sixties, and/or listened to their rock music a bit louder, and who still haven't lost the sense of joy and the madcap fusion of styles that came out of that era. Still klezmer, but definitely not my bubbe's klezmer, for sure. Pick up a copy on today.

April 1, 2006

Broiges tanz - on film!

Another item from the amazing Helen Winkler:

I now have a page up with video and photos from the event Judith Cohen and I did a few weeks ago:

The video clip of the broiges tants requires the most recent version of Quick Time to view it. This dance happened quite by accident as I had not planned to do it but Judith started playing and singing it earlier in the evening and we decided to include it at the last minute. My dance partner, Judy Silver had never seen a broiges tants before so it was very improvised and spontaneous. I welcome all information that people might have about this dance from past years, as I am accumulating a collection of people's recollections elsewhere on my web site.

March 26, 2006

An amazing 10th Anniversary sendoff/KCB Reunion/mini-Jewish Music Fest - the 'too tired to write/too hyper to sleep yet' entry

KlezmerShack 10th AnniversaryTo everyone who was a part of this concert, audience, workshop participant, performer, I just have to say, "thank you". It was sold out. The band was fabulous. The workshops were crowded and had a lot of fun (especially the one that I was co-moderating). Wow!

Continue reading "An amazing 10th Anniversary sendoff/KCB Reunion/mini-Jewish Music Fest - the 'too tired to write/too hyper to sleep yet' entry" »

March 2, 2006

"20 Years Live!" for the Klezmatics, NYC, Town Hall, Mar 5

In case anyone missed this, I thought I'd repost: Should be a killer concert, and if they're not sold out now, they will be. ari

band photoThe Klezmatics
perform "20 Years Live!" Concert
Town Hall NYC
Sunday, March 5, show-time is 4 PM

(NY, NY): The Klezmatics, NYC's eccentric Jewish Folk Music renegades, are working on twenty years of existence and are celebrating with a special performance at the famed Town Hall on Sunday, March 5, 2006. Tickets are available at

Tel:(212) 840-2824

Continue reading ""20 Years Live!" for the Klezmatics, NYC, Town Hall, Mar 5" »

February 19, 2006

Call for Volunteers: KlezmerShack 10th Anniversary / Klezmer Conservatory Band Reunion


Klezmer Conservatory Band Reunion
and mini-KlezmerFestival

Saturday, March 25, 8pm
Sunday, March 26: workshops 1-3:30; concert 4pm

Special Guests include:
Michael Alpert
Rosalie Gerut
Deborah Strauss
Jeff Warschauer

I am most embarrassed to note that I haven't said anything in months (possibly ever) about the grand finale to the KlezmerShack 10th anniversary—a KCB Revival reunion, accompanied by a slew of workshops. You can find out more on our calendar, or a the Leventhal-Sidman JCC site.

The important thing to note at the moment, is that we will need volunteers to help during the event. Like other 10th Anniversary Events (including a concert at the beginning of the celebration, last spring, at the JCC) this may sell out, so get tickets early, and if you can help out, Please send me e-mail.

And, between now and March 25th and 26th, expect to hear lots more about this event.

February 11, 2006

Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer ROCK

band photoI don't know how many times I have seen Deborah Strauss* and Jeff Warschauer. As often as possible, as it happens, and it adds up. Tonight's show at Workmen's Circle in Brookline, though, was the rockingest show I've ever seen them do. It was like a cross between a chassidic revival and a bluegrass show, except for the lack of chassidim and bluegrass.

Continue reading "Deborah Strauss and Jeff Warschauer ROCK" »

February 5, 2006

Beyond the Pale wins Canadian Folk Music Award

Beyond the Pale tour posterNews from Eric Stein, about to tour the southwest and California with his band, Beyond the Pale

Beyond the Pale recently won the 2005 Canadian Folk Music Award for “Best Instrumental Group” for our last CD “Consensus”. Last week we were challenged to live up to the title in a very interesting project for CBC radio called “A New World of Mozart.” Ourselves and three other Canadian ‘world’ music ensembles were asked to come up with our own reinterpretations of Mozart’s music to celebrate his 250th birthday. We did BTP-ified versions of Piano Concerto #21 (Elvira Madigan), the 25th Symphony, and “Lacrimosa” and “Confutatis” from the Requiem (the latter of which, after being hybridized with a Dave Tarras tune, was redubbed “Confutarras”). Here is a link to an MP3 of our “25th Symphony Redux” from the broadcast:

Next up we hit the road for our second tour in southern California, Feb 11-19, also including stops in Tucson and at the Folk Alliance conference in Austin. See the KlezmerShack World Jewish Music Calendar for details

January 30, 2006

di Fidl-Kapelye / Live in Amsterdam; review by Günther Schöller

album coverWhile I was out galivanting with work and otherwise pre-occupied, a really, really sweet, very old-style European klezmer album came in for review by the Amsterdam-based "Di Fidl Kapelye". Happily for the band, they were not forced to await my review: Günther Schöller, accordionist with Narishe Tantz posted a great review to the Jewish Music list back in April and sent me permission to post it to the KlezmerShack. That's long enough to wait. Read about Live in Amsterdam and pick up your own copy asap. We hope ya'll enjoy it as much as we did.

January 29, 2006

New KlezmerShack review: Panoramaland

lovely map of panoramalandIt has been many, many months since I've been able to find time for reviews. As I try to catch up, just a little bit, I find myself turning to one of the CDs that hasn't been waiting for months, but which has nonetheless insinuated itself onto my CD changer and refused to let go. Figures, of course. It's the New Orleans band, Panorama Jazz Band, and their new album is appropriately entitled, "Panoramaland." If you love Frank London's Klezmer Brass Band (review of the new Carnival Conspiracy coming very, very soon) or New Orleans Jazz or Zlatne Uste or just love to dance, this is a good place for reviews to start again.

Musique ensemble XX, South of France, 19-26 Aug

workshop logoOur Music school is organizing a Klezmer summer school in the south of france, from the 19th to the 26th of august in a gorgeous place. This summer session is open to adults who want to play music in a band, conducted by an experienced clarinet professor. There will be a concert at the end of the week in the village nearby. For food, lodging and music course it costs 500 euros. All details are on our website.
Tel: 33 1 43 61 52 88
E-mail Arielle Zajde for further info.

KlezKamp Photos online

pete rushefsky on tsimblThe amazing Bob Blacksberg has posted a first look at selected photos from KlezKamp 2005 and the New Year's eve performance at Makor.

January 28, 2006

Frank London interviewed about his "Carnival Conspiracy"

album coverFrom the folks at Piranha music comes the interview with the wonderfully prolific Frank London

Remember where you read it first! It needed a Frank London to reveal to the world that Carnival is the ultimate Jewish conspiracy. Was this the reason why his new CD "Carnival Conspiracy" was instantly garnished with the TOP OF THE WORLD recommendation of Songlines? Why do we receive a tsunami of enthusiastic reviews floating our office? If you have missed his APAP showcase in New York last weekend, come to Porto Musical in Recife/Brazil for his pre-carnival performances and find out more what it is all about. Other answers in "Party Until You Are Beyond Rationality", an interview with Frank on

Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars: Carnival Conspiracy. In the Marketplace all is Subterfuge. CD-PIR1902 OUT NOW

December 31, 2005

Roots of Klezmer CD; recorded in Moldavia

album graphic
Shane Solow writes: "I recorded musicians in northern Romania that play archaic melodies that are a prototype for Klezmer music. They learned the melodies from Jewish musicians who lived in this region before the second world war. They are some of the last performers who know this tradition. The musicians on the CD are

  • Constantin Lupu, violin
  • Constantin Negel, cobza
  • Anton Mitica Stefan, drum

"A link to the recording with some free downloads can be found here -, or you can purchase the CD directly from

Continue reading "Roots of Klezmer CD; recorded in Moldavia" »

Orange County Klezmer featured by OC Jewish Life

band photo

In a lovely October, 2005 article, Orange County Jewish Life features Orange County Klezmer in a fine article: "Extreme Makeover: Temple Beth David showcases renewal, talent, and enthusiasm under new roof, By Ilene Schneider.

George Robinson: Best Jewish Music Recordings of 2005

album coverGeorge Robinson writes frequently for the Jewish Week. He listens to an incredible diversity of music. Take a read of Five Stars All Around: From chasidic reggae to Golden Age chazanut, the best recordings of 2005, Jewish Week, 12/30/2005 (could this really be? Posting a new review in a timely fashion! I'll try to keep up for a while! Since several of the CDs I've been meaning to review are on this list, I even resolve to catch up here at home!)

December 4, 2005

Latest George Robinson reviews now online

Simon, from Hatikvah Music, writes:

In the current on line issue of The Jewish Week, George Robinson reviews a number of new Jewish CDs at this site:

The reviews include:

Yinon Muallem: “Klezmer for the Sultan” (Oriente)
Muallem is an Israeli-born percussionist now living in Istanbul. He offers an interesting mix of Turkish and Jewish traditional music, with a slightly pop edge. Like so much “world beat” fusion music, this is very pleasant listening, if not as adventurous as it could be.

Polskie Tango, 1929-1939 (Oriente)
A fascinating anthology of tangos from the 1930s, when that sensual music seems to have been the rage everywhere, not just in Buenos Aires. Many of the most popular tango players in Poland were Jewish artists, amply represented on this set, and one can hear the dual influences of Argentine and Jewish music on several of the recordings. Uneven, as most anthologies are, but historically valuable and generally musically satisfying.

November 19, 2005

Klezmer Madness on "My Space"

band photoI guess "" isn'tt just for teenagers trying to see who has the most connections anymore, Elliott Simon posts about the new David Krakauer CD page on My Space:

Hi all...check out the groovy new Klezmer Madness "my space" at ..get two free downloads off the latest CD...."Moskovitz and Loops of it" and the title track..."Bubbemeisis...Lies My Gramma Told Me"...and see latest band pics as to everyone...Elliott

October 1, 2005

Brave Old World to perform "Songs of the Lodz Ghetto" in San Francisco, Oct 15

Brave Old World

Songs of the Lodz GhettoBrave Old World
Song of the Lodz Ghetto
In Yiddish, with English Supertitles

Saturday, October 15, 8:00 pm
JCCSF, 3200 California St. at Presidio Ave.
Tickets: Members $20 | Public $25 | Students $15
Box Office: (415) 292-1233
Box Office hours: Monday - Friday, 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm; Saturday, 12:00 pm - 5:00 pm.
Click here to purchase tickets online.

September 15, 2005

Klezmer Paris 2005, Oct 22-26

October 22-26
Klezmer workshop

Programme: Vocal, dance and instrumental workshops, masterclasses, lectures, jam sessions…

Information and registration:
Maison de la culture Yiddish ­ Bibliotheque Medem
18, passage Saint-Pierre Amelot
F-75011 PARIS
Tel. 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 00 /Fax: 00 33 (0)1 47 00 14 47

Continue reading "Klezmer Paris 2005, Oct 22-26" »

June 14, 2005

Christian Dawid on Klez-Vienna

Christian Dawid posts this to the Jewish-Music mailing list. Note that the Klez-MORE Festival comes up July 3-10,

... seems like Vienna is the place to be these weeks in Klezmerland. Looking forward to Ruth Schwarz' KlezMore, I just returned from Roman Grinberg's KlezVienna, and I'm deeply impressed.

Continue reading "Christian Dawid on Klez-Vienna" »

May 9, 2005

Brave Old World to present "Lodz Ghetto" music at Folksbiene, in NYC, May 11-15

brave old worldStu Brotman writes about the "great lost" Brave Old World program, now being released on CD, and now appearing in NYC!

Brave Old World will be presented by the Folksbiene Theatre in New York this May 11-15. We¹ll be performing our program called "Song of the Lodz Ghetto," which has just been released as a beautiful new Winter and Winter cd called "Dus gezang fin Geto Lodzh."

From the Folksbiene's announcement on their website,!musical-events.html:

The New York premiere of the innovative klezmer group's moving, theatrical musical program blending Yiddish tradition, classical music, jazz, and rare Jewish street and cabaret songs from the Nazi ghetto of Lodz, Poland between 1940 and 1944. (At the Triad Theater, on West. 72nd Street.) The New York premiere of the innovative klezmer group's moving, theatrical musical program blending Yiddish tradition, classical music, jazz, and rare Jewish street and cabaret songs from the Nazi ghetto of Lodz, Poland between 1940 and 1944. (At the Triad Theater, on West. 72nd Street.)"

I¹m very proud of this show. It¹s essentially a through-composed tone poem, a one-act musical play, in suite form, in Yiddish and Polish, with English supertitles projected overhead. Long-lost songs of resistance from street-singers of the Lodz ghetto are contrasted with pre-war Polish and Yiddish songs; original klezmer laments and deep jazz improvisations, references to Beethoven, evoke powerful emotions.

February 26, 2005

Pictures from the St. Petersburg KlezShul workshop w/Michael Alpert

photo from KlezShul
A gute vokh Ari!

Have just come from KlezShul workshop with Michael Alpert from St.Petersburg. Maybe you'll be interested to look at a brief photo review of the event.

Mit same varemste grusn fun Minsk,
Dmitri Slepovitch.

November 8, 2004

Out as Jews and Out as Gays; playing Klezmer and proud of it!

Here's an interesting article. It echoes ideas that Alicia Svigals first presented at a conference paper, first published in a special edition of Judaism magazine in Winter 1998. It is also touched upon in Christina L. Baade's "Jewzak and Heavy Shtetl: Constructing Ethnic Identity and Asserting Authenticity in the New-Klezmer Movement" from the same year. Now we're in 2004 and Dana Astmann has written "Freylekhe Felker: Queer Subculture in the Klezmer Revival" in this current issue of Discourses [Discourses in Music: Volume 4 Number 3 (Summer 2003)], which moves from first person narrative to research on the cumulative gay first person narratives in the Klezmer scene.

Needless to say, the article is reasonably well-written and quite fascinating.

May 22, 2004

Seth Rogovoy on Mikveh

Seth Rogovoy writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

Yesterday's Berkshire Eagle included an article by yours truly on the all-star klezmer/Yiddish group, Mikveh, featuring an interview with vocalist Adrienne Cooper, "Mikveh puts Yiddish women in front line"

April 25, 2004

KlezmerWelten 2004 pix

Josh Horowitz playing accordionChristian Dawid has posted pictures from the KlezmerWelten festival in Germany:

April 11, 2004

new albums by Shtreiml and Brave Old World

Album cover: I still haven't seen a Brave Old World cover that I likedThe new Brave Old World album, Bless the Fire, doesn't seem to be getting the kind of press it deserves. Granted, that would involve a ticker tape parade and mention on every streetcorner - this is the sort of music that reminds me of why I maintain these pages and why I love to listen to new Jewish music. In my minor worshipful way, I try to remedy the situation.

Album cover: nice. You don't need fancy type to be niceShtreiml just gets better. For an outstanding band, that is no small feat. This Montreal-based klezmer band mixed Yiddish song with new and old klezmer instrumentals on "Spicy Paprikash" in a way that makes everything feel fresh and wonderful. Just because they aren't an American band shouldn't get in the way of discovering how good this new recording is. Besides, the band includes Josh "SoCalled" Dolgin, klezmer scion Rachel Lemish, along with Jason Rosenblatt on Harmonica and more.

April 10, 2004

Golden Horn releases Veretski Pass CD

amazing graphics from Golden Horn - I only did the typeA few years ago I was wandering in Eastern Europe and found myself befriended by Josh Horowitz (of Budowitz, etc.). We hit it off and became instant good friends. He was about to release the initial Budowitz CD (Budowitz / Mother Tongue, 1997), and I, being the type of nerd that I am, happened to be traveling with my laptop, a few hundred of my favorite fonts, and my copy of Quark XPress. So, while he played some amazing tsimbl one evening, I roughed out better liner notes for the Budowitz CD for him to show the record company how it could all fit in limited space with (what I thought was) grace. To my horror, the half-finished version I prepared that evening was what the record company eventually used.

A few years later, Josh mentions that he, and another old friend, Stu Brotman (Brave Old World, et al), plus violin maven Cookie Segelstein (Klezical Tradition and more) were releasing a new album, and if I was interested. This time, the record company was listening....

Order a Veretski Pass CD right NOW.

Continue reading "Golden Horn releases Veretski Pass CD" »

Elliott Simon on "I Remember Klezmer"

album coverElliott Simon writes about the new Philadelphia Klezmer tour de force, "I Remember Klezmer" on All About Jazz. The CD, featuring Elaine Hoffman Watts, a third (fourth?) generation Philly klezmer on drums, and featuring both her daughter, Susan Watts, on trumpet, and Rachel Lemisch (another nth-generation Philly klezmer) on trombone, seriously rocks.

March 23, 2004

Watts CD release party a smash

album coverPete Rushefsky attended the CD release party for one of the most-talked about (and sought) CDs in recent months, the killer disk by the mother-daughter klezmer power house of Elaine Hoffman Watts and Susan Watts. They are joined by friends such as Frank London, David Licht, Rachel Lemisch (another severalth generation Philly klezmer). Since Pete's review includes the vital "how do I get my own copy" info, I am posting it here. My own copy has just arrived, and I am salivating. More soon.

I had the pleasure of attending the CD release party for "I Remember Klezmer" hosted by Elaine & Susan Hoffman Watt's band The Fabulous Shpilkies in Philly last weekend. The venue (The Point in Bryn Mawr, PA) was absolutely packed with a few hundred revelers. The Shpilkies played a terrifically spirited set of traditional Philly (and Hoffman family) klezmer and vocal tunes sung by Susan in her amazing Yiddish/Jazz style.

Then Susan started inviting her friends on stage... and then the band headed out into the audience as tables were pushed aside for dancing...

A lot of klezmer luminaries were to be found there, including... Shpilke Trombonist Rachel Lemisch, Writer/Critic Elliott Simon and his daughter/Clarinetist Jill Simon, Harmonicist/Pianist Jason Rosenblatt (of Shtreiml fame), Mandolinist/Musicologist Craig Harwood (Amherst College), Flautist Daniella Cohen (formerly of Yale Klezmer Band), Violinist Illana Sherer (formerly of Brown's Klezmer band), many of the Klez Dispensers (Clarinetist Alex Kontorovich, Trupeter Ben Holmes, Violinist Amy Zakar, and Pianist Adrian Banner), Robert and Molly Friedman (of the Robert and Molly Friedman Jewish Music Archive at the University of Pennsylvania). There were many other representatives of the venerable Lemisch and Hoffman families (both renowned klezmer dynasties). I'm sure I must've missed a few as well-- it was quite a crowd.

Here's the information Susan Hoffman Watts sent me on ordering the CD featuring her and her mother Elaine Hoffman Watts entitled "I Remember Klezmer."

I think if you were to write a check to Susan Watts that would be fine...

The CD will be available from or by sending $15.00 and a bissle for shipping to:

I Remember Klezmer
C/O Watts
832 Beechwood Rd.
Havertown, PA 19083
E-mail Susan Watts Hoffman.

February 2, 2004

New KlezmerShack reviews

Four new reviews on the KlezmerShack:

album coverFreylach Time!, based in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina is a tradtional klezmer gem. It is also a community treasure. Now that the band has finally recorded, you can hear for yourself: Freylach Time! / The Klezmer Dance Band

album coverLondon's Oi Va Voi has been impressing audiences from the UK to KlezKamp and everywhere in between for years. Whatever they are playing, it isn't klezmer any more, except insofar as it gets people up to dance. This new album, "Laughter Through Tears" just made the New York Time's "10 Best" list for 2003. For a change, I agree!: Oi Va Voi / Laughter Through Tears

album coverCésar Lerner and Marcelo Moguilevsky are two amazing musicians from Argentina. I've seen them perform in the UK and Canada. Now you can year why audiences love them and their brand of passionate klezmer infused with South American jazz. The new album, Sobreviviente, is live: Lerner Moguilevsky Duo / Sobreviviente

album coverA year with a new release from the Klezmer Conservatory Band is a good year. This latest contains many new gems - more than a taste of paradise: Klezmer Conservatory Band / A Taste of Paradise

January 8, 2004

Krakauer "Live in Krakow"

album coverDavid Krakauer has released a live album, recorded last summer in his family's ancentral town, Krakow. The album, on France's notable jazz label, "Label Bleu", is due to be released in the US by Harmonia Mundi USA on January 13th.

Krakauer's "Klezmer Madness" ensemble will be making its Carnegie Hall debut on February 25th with guest artist jazz composer/pianist Uri Caine.

November 23, 2003

New KlezmerShack reviews

There never seems to be time to review everything I'd like to write about. When music this good arises, I find myself listening over and over and forgetting to move on. That's okay. That's why I listen and write in the first place. So, from Australia to Ireland via California and Salonika via NYC, here are the latest. If you are getting an early start on your Chanuka shopping this coming weekend, pay good attention - these are the new musics that folks will be wanting:

a ripe fig. deliciousThe Fig Tree, 2003
This is a delightful collection of Greek, Jewish, and other music, accompanying a book on immigrants to Australia by Arnold Zable. Don't let the distance from Australia stop you from listening to this, hearing the latest from our favorite Australian klezmer bands, and hearing some wonderful other music, as well.

the green of ireland seen through a deep stone windowCeiliZemer / Shalom Ireland, 2003
Continuing the international tour, this soundtrack to a documentary about Jews in Ireland fuses the two musics delightfully. Yes, indeed, think of what hasidic music (and klezmer) might have been like if the uillean pipes had been available in Eastern Europe. There's still time to add them here.

Helvetica. Sheesh. and bits of time and musicDavid Chevan / Days of Awe, 2003
Chevan has gathered his Afro-Semitic Experience, including guitar wizzard Stacy Phillips, and added Frank London. The result is exquisite jazz versions of music from the High Holy Days. If you like this sort of thing (I do), this is definitely the sort of thing that you will like.

The high lonesome wooden synagogueMargot Leverett & the Klezmer Mountain Boys, 2003
Today's theme seems to be fusion music. You got yer Greeks and Klezmers; you got yer Irish and Klezmers. And when you're especially lucky, you got your bluegrass klezmers. But, it's a Margot Leverett album, so you already knew that it would be on your "essential klezmer" list, anyway. I think of Leverett the way I think of Jeff Warschauer and Deborah Strauss - if she's involved, it's not only amazing, but it's comfort music - the perfect accompaniment for when you feel great, and an even better accompaniment for when you need a lift.

  • interesting letter on desert backgroundSarah Aroeste / A la una, 2003
    Mobius, of my favorite Jewish weblog, Jew*School suggested that I write something about these new Sephardic artists. Some I knew. Aroeste's name was unfamiliar. It shouldn't be. This is extraordinary Ladino music, set with contemporary instrumentation and sounds by someone who has worked with good avant garde musicians and knows what good music should sound like. But the critical part is how seamlessly she has kept the feel of traditional Ladino song. This is one of our favorite albums this year. Who knew?

    interested hip hop khasene sceneSolomon & Socalled / HipHopKhasene, 2003
    As much fun as I had writing about everything else, this is my favorite of the bunch. Witty, brilliant, funny, and great music. The album features not only the amazing Socalled, but Oi Va Voi's Sophie Solomon. Guests include David Krakauer, Zev Feldman, Frank London, Michael Alpert, Elaine Hoffman-Watts and daughter Susan... even Jewish-music mailing list regular, Cantor Sam Weiss. Essential for all but the humor-impaired.

  • November 3, 2003

    New reviews by George Robinson

    George Robinson announces a slew of new music columns published almost all together in New York's Jewish Week:

    Five-Star Klez: From New Orleans and Odessa, fusion and traditional approaches.

    A Fall Sampler: From Solomon Rossi to Michael Strassfeld.

    Heard Around The World: From Turkey to London to the Lower East Side.

    October 19, 2003

    Review: Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys

    album coverShira Lerner posted the following short review on the new Margot Leverett album to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

    Just finished my first listen to the Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys CD. WOW! I expected to like it, but I was totally blown away! What a fargenign! This recording is going to wear out fast. Play it in the car (hey, in LA that's a major time commitment), on my office system, while I'm cooking - I can't think of any activity which won't be enhanced with this music going on. And, of course, just sitting and listening to it is very rewarding. Beautifully conceptualized and arranged, wonderfully played, a marvelous accomplishment. I always approach the "fusion" stuff with some trepidation. Is it going to be simply alternating styles without the work to do a true melding? Are these 2 styles really compatible/complimentary or is this a haphazard cut-and-paste for "marketing" reasons? No such worries here. As to identifying a few tracks as my favorites - fuggedaboutit! Loved the cuts with Frank and the Klezmer Brass All-Stars, really enjoyed the cut with Michael Alpert's singing, but just the "straight" klezmer/bluegrass cuts (say, tracks 7, 8 & 9) are terrific. Not a clinker in the bunch. If you like plain-old straight-ahead klezmer, but this CD. If you like bluegrass, buy this CD. Hell, what ever you like, buy this CD!

    Haven't liked anything this much since Kurt & Annetta's wonderful CD. yasher koyekh to all involved!

    Shira Lerner

    August 13, 2003

    Latest reviews on the KlezmerShack

    Sometimes I get so caught up into listening to new music that I forget to tell people about reviews written. That is particular unfortunate this week, since there are some really exciting albums that I wrote about:

    interesting lettering and '30s-style cartoonInto the Freylakh has produced a debut album that includes a very tuneful mix of klezmer and jazz. Lots of new jazz material, in particular, to gladden your ears. The album cover is also quite classy.

    decent monotype of the band on a bridge, as though old timeyFialke / A grus fun der alter heym. Now, someone explain to me why some of the best traditional klezmer is coming from Germany? For those of us waiting on a next fix from Budowitz or Khevrisa, Fialke steps into the breach. Guest participation by Budowitz tsimbl-master Josh Horowitz helps, too. (Horowitz is currently finishing up an album with fellow-tsimbler Stu Brotman of Brave Old World, et al, and Cookie Segelstein of Klezical Tradition, himself, so stay tuned.)

    another obscure tzadik album cover of building upon building upon older buildingPaul Brody's Sadawi / Kabbalah Dream. This is one of the most amazing trumpet albums I have heard in a while. Klezmer, jazz, avant-garde, and entirely listenable.


    August 4, 2003

    Five new music reviews

    I only got to two of the brand new recordings this weekend, partly because I've had trouble putting away some of the CDs that were sent last year. It's time. It's certainly time to spread the word.

    anothing Tzadik coverAnyone who has watched him perform, or more broadly, who has seen Claudia Heuermann's "Sabbath in Paradise," which covers the New York downtown Jewish music scene, is familiar with Coleman's work. His recordings with Sephardic Tinge--Coleman accompanied by bass and drums--present him at his most accessible and, I think, most lyrical. Last year's Our Beautiful Garden Is Open is an excellent example.

    a lovely purple potatoI remember being amused by the name, "Orient Express Shnorer Klezmers" or something--a French klezmer band that seemed interesting, but I never had time to write a review. Now they have evolved into an incredibly articulate, brassy klezmer jazz ensemble. This tribute to Jewish food is a perfect introduction. Remember, when terrorists put a bomb in Paris back in the mid-eighties, it was a Jewish deli that was bombed. This is French Jewish food. Food matters. Delicatessen

    lovely detail from Turkish SynagogueThis is simply a pleasure. One of the most beautiful Sephardic albums I have heard in a while. Lovingly documented, beautifully sung by Hadass Pal-Yarden. Yahudice

    Surely we should never have to see a poorly used Zapf chancery again!ëYes, we have another name change. The band whose name was once preceded by "Shawn's", is now simply "Kugel." Be that as it may, here's another helping of everything from the Grateful Dead to Aleynu, in Finger Play

    delightful painting of 'Jewish Folk Musicians' by Mané-Katz' w/appropriate party typographyThis week's winner of the "another band that I would have happily hired for my own wedding" is KlezmerFest. The band includes a couple of members of Hasidic New Wave, but this is where they get down and make traditional Party Music.

    July 27, 2003

    Four new reviews

    Despite best of intentions, I couldn't stop listening to these four albums this weekend. So that's as many reviews as got done:

    Super Borvis discards his boots and heads into spaceI used to claim that the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars were the hardest working klezmer bar band in existence. They've gotten much better than that. And their mix of New Orleans funk and Jewish soul just gets better and better with Borvis.

    lovely detail from Turkish SynagogueThis is almost the Jewish equivalent of Gregorian Chant, just more recent, in tune with the music of the Ottoman Empire, and, well, very Jewish. Very well done, with very good notes: Maftirim.

    white. just white. with perfect type, of courseIf, like me, you thought that Adrianne Greenbaum's flute album, or the Duo Controverso albums were high points of the year, then this incredible collection of clarinet-accordion pieces based on perfect klezmer will be the next essential stop. Truly heymisher.

    interesting picture of the band. trivial typeThis is the best Klezmatics album since, oh, "Jews with Horns"? Ecstatic music, ranging from klezmer to hasidish to the edges of new Yiddish music, and words worth listening to, context worth considering. If you read the KlezmerShack, you've probably already got your copy. If not, time to Rise Up.

    July 26, 2003

    Khupe review von Deutschland

    That amazing German klezmer, Heiko Lehmann, has lots of good things to say about the new Khupe album (I intend to do the same in English, asap). The review is in German, on the German Klezmer pages. As he says, " Khupe ist das ohne Zweifel gelungen, mehr noch: Heymisher übertrifft das Debütalbum". Whatever that means, ich bin einverstanden. You can read the whole thing on Note, above and to the left, what happens to an all-white cover with a smear of teeny tiny print, reproduced on an all white background. Don't be fooled. This is a killer album. More, anon. Or, check out the sound samples and review at the URL above, NOW.

    July 3, 2003

    Shtreiml concert review

    Guenther Schoeller posted this review of a recent Shtreiml concert to the Jewish-music mailing list. Reprinted here with the author's permission, Shtreiml on tour in Europe

    If you're excited about a recent concert, know that we are always eager to help you get the word out. Send me e-mail at

    June 8, 2003

    Lots of new reviews of almost everything

    the pied piper of desert bands - a long time since I've enjoyed a tzadik cover!I got carried away. CDs were falling off the shelf, so I sat down this weekend and stayed sat down until I got several reviewed. We've got some great new Jewish music, some avant garde and jazz, some klezmer (lots of klezmer), some Sephardic and Mizrahi music, more klezmer and Yiddish folk.... That's not the whole gamut, but odds are that something in this weekend's stack will be just what you were looking for:

    June 5, 2003

    Margot Leverett in special Tonic show, Sun Jun 8

    The amazing Margot Leverett is at the Tonic this Sunday. This is a short notice show to fill in. It would be a major bummer for the audience to be limited to the two folks who happened to wander by due to late publicity. Here's the scoop:

    This Sunday at Tonic June 8

    Margot Leverett and Ruslan Agababayev present a very special program of klezmer and jazz improvisation. Ruslan is a young prodigy with a startlingly original take on klezmer and jazz. This will be an unforgettable afternoon!

    Tonic is at 107 Norfolk St in Manhattan (F train to Delancey), or take Williamsburg bridge to Delancey and turn right on Norfolk. Shows are at 1:30 and 3pm, $10 for one show, $15 for both. Brunch available and optional. (212) 358-7501

    See you there!

    And don't forget Seth Rogovoy's recent interview with her at

    May 31, 2003

    Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys

    Margot Leverett is this amazing clarinet player, one of the founding members of the Klezmatics, an amazing traditional clarinetist (see her CD of Beckerman's tunes, "Art of the Klezmer Clarinet"). Tonight (Sat, Mat 31) she'll be appearing in Great Barrington, MA at Club Helsinki. In honor of the occasion, Seth Rogovoy has done this dynamite interview for the Berkshire Eagle. Enjoy!

    May 25, 2003

    Klezmer articles in Israel

    Moshe Berlin found this and posted it to the Jewish-Music mailing list. For those of us who read Hebrew, there is a nice article about Klezmer music and klezmer in Israel, featuring an interview with Zev Feldman, in "Makor Rishon":

    Archeologist of a Jewish Sub-Culture", datelined Apr 16, 2003.

    But where is the article about Moshe Berlin, surely the embodiment of Israeli klezmer traditions as brought over to Israel by 18th century hasidim? That is printed in this article, from "Mekor Rishon," May 23, 2003 (also in Hebrew):

    "Klezmer is alive and well in Israel".

    May 24, 2003

    Hankus Netsky Summer Klezmer Institute, Jul 21-25 2003

    This has been happening each summer for the past few years. Now it has an official name. It is an amazing experience:

    The Hankus Netsky Summer Klezmer Institute
    Monday-Thursday, July 21-24, 10:00 a.m.-9:00 p.m.
    Friday, July 25, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
    Hankus Netsky, director

    The Hankus Netsky Summer Klezmer Institute will provide students with a comprehensive hands-on introduction to the world of Eastern European Jewish Music. Workshops will include classes in Klezmer history and modal theory, and ensembles. Related topics include Hassidic song, Cantorial music, and Yiddish folk, theater, and art songs. We will also explore Yiddish and Klezmer ethnography, in interview sessions with local eastern-European performers and learn directly from world-renowned guest lecturers.

    Registration:, or call the Summer School Director at (617) 585-1126 for further information.

    Continue reading "Hankus Netsky Summer Klezmer Institute, Jul 21-25 2003" »

    Klezmatics Review on RootsWorld

    I thank Michael Spudic for forwarding to me the URL for this very thoughtful review of the stunning new Klezmatics CD, "Rise Up":

    May 19, 2003

    Radio Broadcast tonight, 5/19/03, from Meron

    R. L. Reid writes to the Jewish-Music mailing list, this morning:

    Nachum Segal's radio program on AM 620 in New York City will be carrying a live feed from Meron tonight at 7 PM Eastern time - therefore the sounds of Lag BOmer in Meron at 2 AM Israel time.

    There does seem to be a live web link for listening but I've never tried it - I would suspect it might not be handle to handle a large number of connections.

    It's worth trying to get the broadcast, though. This is one of the purest streams of traditional klezmer still extant - the Meron tradition represents the tradition of Jewish wedding music, as brought from Eastern Europe by Hasidim in the 18th century (is my memory for history correct on this? I seem to remember this as the big hasidic emigration to Tzfat, rebuilding what had once been a thriving center a few centuries earlier, prior to an earthquake that marked the end of the Tzfat of Luria and his peers - but I am not at home, and not near a library to quickly reference this), and as it has evolved there.

    May 8, 2003

    Maxwell Street Klezmer / Old Roots, New World

    I can't get away from Chicago. Of course, when the bands are this good--Duo Controverso, or today's featured Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, who would want to leave?

    One of the first exciting klezmer revival recordings I purchased, nearly 20 years ago, was Maxwell St's first album. It opened with the flute playing "Mi Yimalel" and then blasted into klezmer. They haven't stopped since, and this album, last year's "Old Roots, New World," is the best yet.

    May 7, 2003

    Review: Duo Controverso / Gedanken

    album coverMy first conversation with Kurt Bjorling took place almost ten years ago and had much to do with the difficulty of being the "other" Chicago klezmer band (Kurt co-founded the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble), and a lot to do with the tapes of Naftule Brandwein that he was passing around to fellow musicians who had no access at the time to Brandwein's amazing and influential repertoire.

    Bjorling's exploration of klezmer, and then beyond, all of Eastern European Jewish music has been profound and influential. On this newest recording, he and his wife, harpist Annette Bjorling, take all of that: klezmer, nusakh, nign, and meld it into a delightful, thoughtful, articulate and gentle album of clarinet-harp duos.

    Although many klezmer fans will enjoy this album, I think the people who will most enjoy it are those who have been more interested in classical music, or cantorial music or hassidic nign. There is less of the dance party here and more of a spiritual journey. You can read the entire review at

    May 4, 2003

    Three new reviews

    As I try to catch up, I am happily snowed under by even more incredible music. Here is a taste:

    picture of KlezRoym
    Italy's Klezroym have put together an incredibly powerful album, "Yankele nel Ghetto," based on Gila Flam's collection of songs from the Lodz Ghetto. Notes in Italian and English.

    album coverRob Burger's recent Tzadik release, "Lost Photograph," combines lounge and exotica with South American and Jewish styles.

    Wholesale Klezmer's new "Sing for Peace, Dance for Joy" shows why I think of the band as "Comfort Klezmer".

    May 1, 2003

    8th Annual KlezKanada, Aug 20-24

    One of the great klezmer camps, and this summer's only east coast klezmer camp (compared to Klezcalifornia, Jun 22-27), is also a delight:


    Takes place at a Jewish summer camp in the Laurentian Hills, er "Mountains" to folks on the east coast. The full summer schedule and all details are now online:

    April 27, 2003

    New Flying Bulgars; Album Release May 10,11

    Flying Bulgars publicity shot w/instruments
    There are a very few new Jewish music bands: Brave Old World, say, or the Klezmatics, who consistently push the envelope and take my breath away like the Flying Bulgars. I have arranged work schedules so that I can stop off in Toronto to see them perform. It is therefore with great excitement that I present the following:

    The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
    presents a CD Release Celebration Concert for their new recording,
    Sweet Return
    Saturday, May 10, 8:30pm; Sunday, May 11, 2pm
    Hugh's Room, 2261 Dundas St W, Toronto
    Tickets: Sat. $15/Sun. $12 BOX OFFICE: 416-531-6604

    Continue reading "New Flying Bulgars; Album Release May 10,11" »

    Max and Minka accordion duo release

    absolutely amazing album coverJeanette Lewicki is better known to many of us as the accordion and voice of San Francisco's anarcho-klezmer street trio, "The Gonifs," or from her work with the San Francsico Klezmer Experience. Now, paired with Matthew Fass as "Max and Minka" the duo have produced one of the loveliest klezmer/accordion/everything music CDs to have arrived in recent years. The first half of the CD consists of (mostly) Yiddish songs and klezmer. The second half, though, is an enormously inventive, wonderful "patchwork suite."

    The cover is an amazing print of rather delightful artwork. Open up the CD and see the accordion fold connecting the duo. The lyrics are printed (albeit at leading that is a trifle tight) in a prime unreadable Yiddish typeface nicely matched to English.

    This is the sort of CD that you purchase because it is a work of art, and then you discover that there is some great music on it, as well!, while they last.

    Continue reading "Max and Minka accordion duo release" »

    April 13, 2003

    Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13

    New Haven, Conn. Yale University will host a conference on April 12 and 13, celebrating the acquisition of a major collection of Jewish music by the University.

    The Wallersteiner Collection of Jewish Music includes about 700 pieces of sheet music of popular, liturgical and theater songs and hymns from Germany, the United States, Israel and elsewhere from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The collection was acquired by the Irving S. Gilmore Music Library at Yale.

    For further information check the conference web site at or contact Nanette Stahl, conference director, at or phone number (203)432-7207.

    Continue reading "Jewish Music Conference at Yale, Apr 12-13" »

    March 23, 2003

    New KlezmerShack Reviews

    The church at the end of the alley, decent punk typeIt's been a very fun week. There are new reviews up demonstrating, once again, the absurd bread of interesting music that is being sent to the KlezmerShack:

    Naftule's Dream / Live in Florence is a dream--this live recording catches the energy and interplay of this post-klezmer edge band as nothing yet.

    loud, cheesy benguiat with cliched drawing of chassidim drinking in violin caseDresder & Mayer / Sruli and Lisa's Klezmer Dance Party provides the answer to the question: "what two people are most responsible for people associating "party" and "klezmer".

    Nikolayev Kapeliah / Vodkazak features some of my favorite klezmer and jazz musicians (Alicia Svigals, Jeff Warschauer, Sy Kushner, Marty Confurious, Nicki Parrot) tearing up chasidic standards. Hot.

    Meshugga Beach Party. It's time to twist to those freilachs once again. Dick Dale meets "Hatikvah" and wins.

    12th "Days of Jewish Culture," Chemnitz, Germany, Mar 27 - Apr 3

    festival logoAndreas Rohde, of the wonderful German Klezmer/folk band, Aufwind, writes:

    Now we have finished the program and the website of the 12th "Days of the Jewish Culture in Chemnitz/Germany". It is a various program not only with klezmer; we have reading, a radio feature, danceworkshop, theatre.... The website is only in German but it is translatable with altavista and other web-translation-services. (Website-Tage der jüdischen Kultur Chemnitz)

    As usual, we invite attendees to post comments here, during and after the event.

    Albuquerque Academy Klezmer Camp, Jun 23-27

    Josh Horowitz jamming into the late night hoursSet in the foothills of the Sandia mountains on the lush 300+ acre campus of Albuquerque Academy, this weeklong workshop features internationally acclaimed tsimbalist and accordianist Josh Horowitz, from the group Budowitz, and renowned Holocaust educator and fiddler Cookie Segelstein. Following mornings of music, you can hike on our private wilderness tract or on the many acres of public land nearby. Or explore the cultural resources of the Albuquerque/Santa Fe area.

    For more information contact Danny Packer at (505) 828-3361, or To register, contact the Albuquerque Academy Summer session at (505) 858-8811.

    Continue reading "Albuquerque Academy Klezmer Camp, Jun 23-27" »

    Article about Alpert, Mayer, Dresder in "The Singing Table"

    Michael Alpert has teamed up with the irrepressible duo of Sruli Dresder and Lisa Mayer to present a program of nigunim (hasidic "hums", as it were). It is an amazing performance, by all accounts. Here is an account from the Forverts, spotted by Jewish-Music mailing list member, Sandra Layman:

    March 15, 2003

    Review of Maxwell St Klezmer, "Old Roots, New World"

    Dan Pine writes in the most recent Northern California Jewish Bulletin:

    Yo Yo Ma did it. Wynton Marsalis did it. And now, the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, like the aforementioned classical music superstars, has blended thorough musical scholarship with an unabashed joy of performing on their new Shanachie Records CD release "Old Roots, New World." ...

    March 8, 2003

    Klezmer Reviews in "Sing Out!"

    Seth Rogovoy posts to the Jewish-music mailing list:

    The new issue of Sing Out! Magazine (Vol. 47, No. 1, Spring 2003) with Irish-American fiddle Liz Carroll on the cover contains reviews by yours truly of Jewish music recordings by the Red Hot Chachkas, Laura Wetzler and the recent anthology of klezmer called KLEZfest put out by ARC Music.

    Eventually, these reviews will be posted at my website.

    About Michal-Josef Guzikov

    Alex Jacobowitz posts to the Jewish-Music mailing list:

    While in grad school twenty years ago, I bumped across an historical figure. I was doing research on my instrument, and happened to find a man named Michal-Josef Guzikow (1806-1837).

    [This is the same Guzikov about whom Henry Sapoznik writes in his book about klezmer, in Henry's case, based primarily on the work of Josh Horowitz - see also Horowitz, Joshua "Gusikov in Wien," Jüdische Traditionelle in Oesterreich, Vienna Oesterreichische Volksliedwerk Vienna, 2001.]

    Jacobowitz continues: "I'm currently involved in writing a book about his most unusual life, and soon there will be an archive set up on the internet (, Im Yirats Hashem. But I wanted to find out if anyone here has any interest in this subject. I've met Guzikow's descendants, gone to the gravesite, and collected the most extensive archive known on this Chassidic Jew, this klezmer. I would love to know if there are any questions."

    Contact: Alex Jacobowitz,

    Continue reading "About Michal-Josef Guzikov" »

    February 26, 2003

    Praise for "Joy of Klez" charts

    David Chevan writes to the Jewish-Music list last month:

    I've been meaning to share this with the list. For the past five years I've been giving a Family Concert at my synagogue, Mishkan Israel in Hamden, CT. Unlike my other performances this rarely involves more than one or two other professional musicians. The group consists pretty much of amateur musicians--computer programmers, dentists, etc. who come together for three or four rehearsals and then we give the concert. While we always have a good time it is challenging to obtain the quality performance I seek. So I am happy to report the wonderful results that I obtained using the Maxwell St. Band's Joy of Klez book. It is really a terrific introduction to Klezmer for musicians who are not familiar with the idiom. The charts are not overly challenging for these part-time musicians and I was surprised how quickly everyone was able to feel the music. It was so much easier to get my trombonist and clarinetist to get the right sound and figures than ever before. I highly recommend this set of charts to anyone--especially the type of ensemble I worked with.

    My only complaint is that there are only ten charts in the collection. I hope there will be a volume two as I will probably be giving these concerts for years to come!!

    For more on "Joy of Klez," see our original announcement:

    February 25, 2003

    Alexandria Kleztet, Delusions of Klezmer

    Decent wide-angle b/w of the band with reasonably nice type. see, it is not so hard to look decent!One of my favorite of the new post-revival, "traditional" suburban American klezmer bands is the Alexandria Kleztet. Their second CD, "Delusions of Klezmer" only increases my affection. This is wonderfully-well-performed klezmer with everything American music influencing something traditional, yet new.

    Read the review at">

    February 24, 2003

    Lerner/Moguilevsky Duo lauded

    This is a few months old, from the WELL, but I just got a chance to confirm permission for posting it here. The author is David Julian Gray, once of the Klezmorim, now of Washington DC's Klezcentricity.

    Topic 1675 [music]:  And even yet, another Concert I Just Attended
    #1577 of 1580: David Julian Gray (djg)      Mon Oct 14 '02 (19:51)   


    I got to see an act <ari>'s been lauding for a few years: The Lerner/Moguilevsky Duo - These guys put on the most stunning display of virutosity I have seen in many year - but it was not virtuosity for virtuosities sake - it was nothing but passionate, thoughtful and rocking music. I do not have any words to describe just how incredible these guys were!

    They are billed as "klezmer", but that doesn't quite explain what they do. They are light years ahead of anyone else in the world doing klezmer in every way - that is everyway but doing "traditional Eastern European dance music"... that is the core of their repertoire, but they use that as a spring board for free improvisation. It is free improv as modern as anything - yet far more accessible than 95% of free improv without sacrificing modernity and the highest levels of intellection! Their harmonic vocabulary is vast - in what is traditionally a modal music - but they either ferret out wild harmonies within the context of the mode - or use "Western" (French impressionism mostly) harmonies as either a foil or a well placed joke.

    One plays keyboards - usually a sampled piano but also accordion - the other plays clarinet and recorder. The keyboardist is fine, fine, fine - but the clarinetist is astonishing - the best playing I've ever heard in my life - his recorder playing is lightening fast and accurate - no less his clarinet and on that instrument he also commands a tonal palette as wide as had yet been discovered for that instrument - all at his whim and command.


    February 23, 2003

    Five New Reviews

    The next-best-thing to Hopper in expressing exile and alonenessIn what I hope will be the beginning of a plethora of new reviews, as I catch up with the pile of CDs that has accumulated since before my wedding, I have the first five up. All of these are great albums, but I caution folks that this is still the tip of the iceberg. In any event:
    • Pharaoh's Daughter / Exile, 2002 -- this will blow your mind. Basya Schechter has gotten superlative reviews for previous albums, but this new album is even better.

    • The Red-Hot Chachkas / Family Album, 2002 -- I have been following Julie Egger since she formed her first band, post KlezKamp, in 1998. This album shows how good she, and the band are. It is a very exciting traditional klezmer album with a couple of excellent new tunes.

    • Vocolot / Heart Beat, 2002 -- my earliest memory of Linda Hirschhorn is her talking with a friend of mine, even before I moved to Berkeley (which is a major relocation ago) about her music. Here, she and her primarily a capella band, the Vocolot (how aptly named! "vocolot" is Hebrew for "voices") range all over the world for songs of spirit and beauty, as well as featuring some of Linda's newest compositions.

    • clunky pastel drawing - not to my taste, although the type is fineAdrianne Greenbaum / FleytMuzik, 2002 -- I am awestruck, and am not going to waste further verbiage trying to describe what an amazing, beautiful, virtuosic album this is. If you like klezmer, or you like flute, or if you didn't know that you liked either, this will still be your favorite album for a long time.

    • Paul Shapiro / Midnight Minyan, 2003 -- this just arrived. I popped it on to the changer to check it out, and have had a hard time not leaving it on constant replay ever since. Shapiro works primarily with the familiar Conservative synagogue song that all bar mitzvahs of a certain age (and perhaps bar and bat mitzvahs to this day) will recall. But what he does with this music, and with other Jewish sources, is to take davening to a new level. This is spiritual music and jazz of the highest order. (Bet you never davened to a rhumba before!)


    February 17, 2003

    Rubinchik's Orkestyr back in print

    a texas magen david, yee hawI was a Bob Wills fan already when I was in high school in Dallas, Texas. Mark Rubin's klezmer recording, "Rubinchik's Orkestyr" manages to fuse Texas swing with klezmer in ways that will tickle your ears and remind you that klezmer, like swing, is for dancing.

    A recent missive from Mr. Rubin notes that the album is now back in print. These pages encourage those who do not yet have a personal copy of this marvellous disk to remedy the situation while the getting is good.

    Review of Maxwell Street / Old Roots New World, by Richard Sharma

    album coverRichard Sharma has posted several reviews of wonderful klezmer albums to the Jewish-music list. The author has given us permission to post this one to the KlezmerShack, and we thank him profusely. Our own delay in getting this reviewed is only partially mitigated by Mr. Sharma's well-written, and suitably enthusiastic words:


    Best of 2002, from George Robinson

    Every year, George Robinson pegs the best of the albums that he has reviewed. The Klezmershack is months behind, so I'm just getting this up now. Still, the choices are excellent, so any time is the right time to read them:

    Weimar Klezmer Weeks

    Alan Bern, of Brave Old World, writes:

    I'd like to announce the Weimar Klezmer Weeks Workshops 2003, expanded to two whole weeks, from July 27 to August 10, in Weimar, Germany. There will be a special 3-day workshop concentrating on Yiddish song repertoire and style, conducted by Michael Alpert, Adrienne Cooper, Alan Bern and Marilyn Lerner, and special 3-day Yiddish danceworkshop, conducted by Zev Feldman, Michael Alpert, Brave Old World + Christian Dawid and Sanne Mricke, and finally, a week-long workshop for advanced klezmer musicians, instrumentalists only, conducted by Brave Old World, Frank London and Sophie Solomon (Oi Va Voi). Weimar is a wonderful city and the facilities for the workshop are incredible. Please check out the website for further information about this unique event. Web:

    Yiddishe Cup brings fun brand of Jewish music to Dallas

    Yiddishe Cup bandleader Bert Stratton turned the Jewish-music list on to this article about his band and it's music.

    February 6, 2003

    Metropolitan Klezmer in "Preview"

    cheesy album coverMetropolitan Klezmer, is one of the best urban klezmer dance bands around. The only thing better than listening to a Metropolitan Klezmer album is seeing them live. Given that, a "preview" of their new album, which includes even a few live tracks, is a treasure. Anchored by Sicular's precise, fluid drumming, and wonderful, brassy horns, Deborah Karpel's voice and a variety of lead instruments (depending on whether a given cut is Metropolitan Klezmer, or the all-woman, "Isle of Klezbos"), make this preview a tasty souvenir; a bisl something good to whet one's appetite. What I wanna know, though, is why not more live tracks?

    Continue reading "Metropolitan Klezmer in "Preview"" »

    February 2, 2003

    KlezFest London returns 29 Jun - 10 Jul

    Here we go: KlezFest London and Ot Azoy! are now open: You can find a
    registration form on Website

    3rd JMI International Summer School in Klezmer music and Yiddish culture
    SOAS, University of London, Russell Square, London WC1
    Two weeks 29 June - 10 July 2003

    Continue reading "KlezFest London returns 29 Jun - 10 Jul" »

    January 5, 2003

    Jewish Music is Alive and Well in Toronto!

    It is time to take the wraps off of one of the best-kept secrets in Toronto's Jewish community. Jewish music is Alive and Well in Toronto, Canada. Beginning on Sunday January 12th, 2003, Israel's Judaica, at 897 Eglinton Avenue West, will host, together with Mel Korn and Syncopated Services, a series of intimate presentations of the beautiful and diverse music flourishing in our midst.

    "Klezmerwelten" Fest in Germany, Jan - Jun 2003

    Jewish Klezmer music comes to life in the town of Gelsenkirchen between February and June 2003. The project named "Klezmerwelten" highlights not only Klezmer music itself, but also provides a broader view over the function of music in society. The department of culture of the town of Gelsenkirchen and various supporters of the project offer a programme that includes an exhibition, concerts, a ballet performance and dance-workshop, further training course, film showings, a symposium and lectures. The department of culture has worked in close cooperation with scholars from the fields of music and history to design this project.

    KlezCalifornia: Yiddish Folk Arts Camp

    KlezCalifornia: Yiddish Folk Arts Camp. To be held June 22-26, 2003 at the Jewish Community High School in San Francisco. Welcome to a celebration of klezmer music, dance, Yiddish, Jewish culture, and visual arts in an atmosphere of joyh and welcoming: four class periods, a full children's program and evening programs including concerts by renowned musicians. Teachers will include: Stu Brotman, Michael Alpert, Michael Wex, Joshua Horowitz and many others.

    November 24, 2002

    Henry Sapoznik interview--the banjo scoop

    Mark Rubin interviews Henry Sapoznik about the banjo. It was the banjo, in a way, that brought Sapoznik to klezmer. But Henry has a lot to say about the Sixties old timey music scene, playing banjo, growing up the son of a cantor, and, of course, klezmer banjo. The interview came out in the summer of 2002. Rubin just brought it to my attention this week.

    October 15, 2002

    Living Traditions announces 18th Annual KlezKamp

    Living Traditions is proud to announce KlezKamp 18: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program December 22-27, 2002 at the Philadelphia-Cherry Hill Hilton. For full information on classes, schedules, staff. FAQs and costs and for a downloadable application, go to our website.

    September 30, 2002

    Khevrisa performs from European Wedding Repertoire, NYC, Oct 6

    In Europe Jewish weddings took place over several days and featured many musical forms, from the meditative melodies of the first days and the morning of the wedding, to the carnivalesque dances of the wedding feast. Traditionally the music was performed by the klezmorim under the supervision of the badkhn, a combination clown and master of ceremonies. Khevrisa is the only ensemble in America to perform these klezmer wedding melodies, taken from manuscripts and from the last European masters of the tradition, using the original instrumentation.

    Continue reading "Khevrisa performs from European Wedding Repertoire, NYC, Oct 6" »

    April 21, 2002

    Michael Alpert to innaugurate Brookline Workmen's Circle coffeehouse, Sat Apr 27

    Hosted by Michael Alpert, in the first set, he will perform and talk about his personal history and connection to Eastern European klezmer music. He will also answer questions from the audience. In the second half, he will host a klezmer jam. All instruments (including voice) at all levels are welcome. For further info: please contact The Workmen's Circle at 617-566-6281 or email at:

    Latest reviews by Ari Davidow cheer up a taxing season

    The latest reviews include Byrd/Chevan / This is the Afro-Semitic Experience, 2002; Tim Sparks / At the Rebbe's Table, 2002;Yankele / L'Esprit du klezmer, 2001; Howard Leshaw / Bronx Volume II: Yiddish on the Edge, 2001; Klezmaniacs (MA) / Sveet like herring vit potatoes, 2001; Amsterdam Klezmer Band / Limonchiki, 2001; Alain Chekroun & Taouifik Bestandji / Chants des Synagogues du Maghreb, 2000; Mark Levy / Bin ikhmir a shnayderl (I'm a little Tailor), 1999; Roy Nathanson & Anthony Coleman / I could've been a drum, 1997; Rabson, Mimi / Music, 2002.

    David Krakauer's Klezmer Madness reviewed by Michael Spudic

    Michael Spudic makes the second person in recent weeks to see the David Krakauer Klezmer Madness ensemble performing its new work, and is delighted. His writeup of the Apr 13 Klezmer Madness concert at Symphony Space in New York is now on the KlezmerShack.

    Strauss/Warschauer Duo seeks bookings in Europe, Summer 2002

    The Strauss/Warschauer Duo will be performing and teaching in Europe this coming summer from late June until early August. Our schedule is fairly full, but we do have some open dates. In addition to concerts, the Duo offers lecture/demos and hands-on workshops for all ages on klezmer instrumental music (mixed ensembles, fidl kapelye and mandolin orchestra), Yiddish song and Yiddish dance. A promo package with CD, press info and a complete listing of concert programs, lecture/demos and hands-on workshops is available. If you are interested in booking the Duo please contact us by e-mail at, or by telephone in Brooklyn at (718) 399-1147. Fax is (718) 399-0863.

    April 8, 2002

    Sony Legacy Yiddish Music Reissue Series innaugurated with three historic titles

    The series was produced for reissue by Henry Sapoznik and Michael Brooks. The first releases include: Yiddish & American Popular Songs from 1914-1950; Abe Schwartz / The Klezmer King; Dave Tarras & Sam Musiker / Tanz!

    March 31, 2002

    Release party for the Afro-Semitic release recording, Middletown, CT, Apr 1

    8:30 p.m. on Monday, April 1 at the Buttonwood Tree, 605 Main Street in Middletown, CT, (860) 347-4957. The new CD features Chevan and Byrd with the Afro-Semitic Experience playing an array of original pieces, sacred music, klezmer, and sacred music by jazz composers. The official release date for this recording is April 5, but we will have albums available at this event. Please join us if you are anywhere in the Connecticut area. Matzo will be served and a freylekhe down home time will be had by all!!

    March 24, 2002

    Klezmer Music: From Underground to Outer Edge

    Class taught by Lev Liberman (The Klezmorim): Klezmer -- Eastern European Yiddish instrumental music -- emigrated to America circa 1910, went underground in the Great Depression, and re-emerged in the 1970s. We will explore klezmer music's timeless appeal through rare recordings and live musical demonstrations -- tracking the genre's evolution from Ukrainian village bands to the postmodern avant-garde. Reading and discussion topics will include: mad genius clarinetist Naftule Brandwein; influences of Roma (Gypsies); the dark ages of Catskill kitsch; dynamics of the klezmer revival; today's trailblazing stylists in neo-klezmer fusion and Euro-roots retro.

    New CD by David Krakauer released in France

    The Klezmer Madness CD entitled "12 Tribes" was released in France on March 15th. It is available from the French It will be released in the USA in late 2002 early 2003. Early reports on the CD, and on the current Klezmer Madness tour indicate that this will be quite exciting.

    Passover music and more

    The latest reviews include Lori Cahan-Simon's secular Yiddish Passover song, a SoCalled Hip Hop seder, Nefesh' debut album, 'unplucked,' a delightful album by Israeli band, Tea Packs, 'your life in a lafa,' and Jewlia Eisenberg's latest effort, an avant gardeish, mostly a capella piece based on the writings and diaries of Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis. A mediation by singer between two lovers. A 'Trilectic.'

    February 18, 2002

    In Memoriam of Liberation--Theodorakis' Mauthausen Trilogy and more, recent reviews by Ari Davidow

    reviews of great new releases of music by Mikis Theodorakis, Zakarya, Naftule's Dream, Chava Alberstein, and Monsieur Camembert.

    February 10, 2002

    Klezmatics album rereleases on Rounder records

    Seth Rogovoy reports on the Jewish-music mailing list that The Klezmatics albums, "Jews with Horns" and "Possessed," both of which have been out of print for several years, are being re-released this week by Rounder Records. The new releases are exactly the same as the originals -- same music, same booklets. The only difference (as far as I can tell) is the Rounder logo and catalog numbers. Rounder already re-released "The Well," the group's collaboration with Chava Alberstein, last fall.

    December 30, 2001

    The Soul of Klezmer: Last reviews of 2001

    Capsule reviews of music by San Francisco Klezmer Experience, Channe Nussbaum & Spielniks, Jack Kessler, Bang on a Can, Abby Rabinowitz, Klezmerica, Musa Berlin, Di Gojim, Jamie Saft, Jeremy Brown, and compilation 'The Soul of Klezmer'

    December 23, 2001

    Sandra Layman's "Little Blackbird" released--Klezmer, Romanian, Greek, Turkish, and Hungarian violin music

    "Little Blackbird" features traditional klezmer (Yiddish instrumental), Romanian, Greek, Turkish, and Hungarian fiddling by violinist Sandra Layman. Tracks range from Balkan dances in jagged rhythms, to poignant Jewish and Romanian doinas, to rarely-heard klezmer and Asia-Minor Greek tunes, to a Hungarian gypsy medley. The recordings were mostly made at concert and festival performances, 1982-1985. Review

    December 16, 2001

    Moshe Berlin live performance available

    Nine years ago, Joel Rubin recorded Moshe (Musa) Berlin and his ensemble at the second Hakafot after Simchat Torah in the Beit ha-Rav Kook Yeshiva in Jerusalem. It has been edited down to 2 CDs, "Aneinu beyom koreinu" (Answer Us on the Day We Call) through Gal-Paz in Jerusalem or Tara Music in the US and is described by Rubin as "my favorite recording of Musa.

    December 7, 2001

    Years's Best Recordings by George Robinson

    George Robinson selects the years best, including albums by Bang on a Can, Klezamir, Klezperanto, David Lang, Frank London, Peter Salzman and the Revolution Ensemble, Shirona, Robert Starer, Josh Waletzky, Za'atar, Emil Zrihan, and recordings of Composers of the Holocaust, The Yemenite Jews, and The Music of the Mountain Jews.

    December 1, 2001

    The latest hot stuff, part 2, 12 Dec 2001

    Capsule reviews of music by Moshe 'Moussa' Berlin, Klezmokum, Di Naye Kapelye, Shirim Klezmer Orchestra w/Ellen Kushner, Lerner & Moguilevsky (aka 'Klezmer en Buenos Aires'), Hester Street Troupe, Mesinke, a rerelease from the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, and two compilations: the Rough Guide to Klezmer and Henry Sapoznik's Klezmer! Jewish Music from Old World to Our World.

    Wholesale Klezmer with timely new CD

    Franz Kafka wrote that the Messiah will only come when he is no longer needed. Joe (Yosl) Kurland of the Wholesale Klezmer Band has composed a rousing Yiddish song turning that idea into a joyous invitation to take part in making the world a better place. You'll find Kafka's Paradox and much much more on our new album, Zingen far sholem, tantsn far freyd (Sing for Peace, Dance for Joy)