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Klezmer
a history of Klezmer, artists, albums
, Klezmer sheet music.
Article added on February 27, 2001



The Essential Klezmer by Seth Rogovoy

Seth Rogovoy: The Essential Klezmer. Algonquin Books, Paperback, May 2000, 281 p.  Get it from: Amazon.com, Amazon Canada, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de or Amazon.fr.


Seth Rogovoy's Essential Klezmer is the best available introduction to klezmer music. The author, born in 1960, has been a music critic and columnist for the Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, for 12 years. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that he knows how to write about music in a fluent and easily understandable way.
 
Rogovoy admits that he only became really involved in klezmer in the spring of 1997 when he saw the Klezmatics perform at the Knitting Factory in New York City. Half a year earlier, he had interviewed David Krakauer, a founding member of the Klezmatics, who had recently left the group to pursue a solo career and came to his town to perform. Krakauer himself only really began listening to klezmer in the late 1980s, when he started playing with the Klezmatics. Until then, he had been "a classically trained clarinetist raised on a strict diet of jazz and European art music." He had no previous knowledge of Jewish music. But when he started to play klezmer, he immediately had the feeling that he knew it very well.
 
Rogovoy had attended the synagogue throughout his life, was exposed to Jewish prayer melodies and his grandfather had been a part-time khazn, a cantor, who sang prayers, which, Rogovoy learned later, were the basis of many klezmer tunes. The David Krakauer Trio's Klezmer Madness! was the first CD in Rogovoy's house. When his 3-year old son for the first time managed to put this very album on the CD player, with no assistance at all, Rogovoy realized there was something special about this music and the klezmer craze affected him too.
 
Klezmer, like folk and classical music, is "based on rigorous, highly stylized forms, with regular rules regarding tempo, meter, and mode, or where the notes fall in a particular scale. But like jazz and rock music, klezmer allows for - if not wholesale improvisation - an inordinate amount of personal expression. Klezmer, like jazz, is a performer's music..."
 
Rabbinical authorities issued strict regulations about when to play as well as regarding the number of musicians. The Jewish tradition dating back to the destruction of the second Herod's temple in Jerusalem "forbade the playing of instrumental music anywhere but at weddings and on designated holidays".
 
Klezmer has its roots in Eastern Europe where Jews had migrated hundreds of years ago. They brought with them the traditions of Western and Central Europe. Small groups of Jewish folk musicians were found in France and Germany, inspired by "Teutonic folk melodies, troubadour songs, and church music." As early as in the 16th century, a typical wedding scene among wealthy Italian Jews featured professional singers.



The age of klezmer - basically upbeat party music which had grown out of religious music - began in the 19th century. But there were only a few celebrity musicians such as the virtuouso straw-fiddle (a sort of folk xylophone) player Michael Joseph Gusikow (1806-37). The vast majority were musicians struggling to feed their families.
 
Since there are no recordings and very little musical notation, we don't know much about the Old World klezmer. Only a few writers of 19th century Yiddish literature such as Sholem Aleichem and I.L. Peretz give us some information.
 
Rogovoy distinguishes three vital periods in American klezmer: The first was a result of the massive immigration from Europe in the late 19th and early 20th century. One of the first klezmer recordings was made in 1913 by trumpeter Abe Elenkrig and his Hebrew Bulgarian Orchestra. From 1917 to 1927, Harry Kandel recorded over ninety songs for the Victor record label in New Jersey.
 
Immigrant klezmorim such as Naftule Brandwein and Dave Tarras, who was one of thousands of Ukrainian Jews who fled the pogroms and came to New York City in 1921, carved their musical niches during a phase in which jazz was popular. They resisted and at the same time integrated American influences into their playing styles. Tarras was the primary exponent of American klezmer from the 1920s to the 1950s. By the 1960s, pop and rock 'n' roll had nearly made klezmer extinct.
 
The second period, the klezmer revival, began in the 1970s and 1980s with performers like Andy Statman and groups such as the Klezmorim, Kapelye and the Klezmer Conservatory Band, going along with growing ethnic pride among American Jews. Hank Sapoznik and other revivalists produced the first issue of klezmer 78s in 1980: Klezmer Music: 1910-1942.
 
The klezmer revival fed into a third period, which is still going on. The adventurous musicians among the revivalists began to enrich the tradition by adding their own musical backgrounds. This klezmer renaissance was nurtured by rock, jazz and classical influences. By the mid-1990s, klezmer was combined with everything from jazz to ska to punk rock. Among the groups presented in this period are Brave Old World, the first klezmer "supergroup" as well as John Zorn with his Masada quartet including Greg Cohen, Joey Baron and Dave Douglas.
 
Among the many other valuable features of the book, there is information on the instrumentation (violin or fidi, tsimbi, clarinet, trumpets, trombones, accordion), the klezmer repertoire, the different musicians and klezmer bands, a glossary and essential recordings. In short, Rogovoy's book is the best starting point for anybody interested in klezmer.
 
Source: Seth Rogovoy: The Essential Klezmer. Algonquin Books, Paperback, May 2000, 281 p.  Get it from: Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de or Amazon.fr. - More Klezmer CDs from Amazon.com. - Klezmer sheet music.



Metropolitan Klezmer
album Mosaic Persuasion, biography, biographies of band members



Metropolitan Klezmer, featuring The Isle of Klezbos: Mosaic Persuasion. Rhythm Media, October 2000. 16 classic Yiddish tunes: folk and wedding music, lullabies, prayers, tango styles and soundtrack material from Yiddish films. Get it from Amazon.com. - More Klezmer CDs from Amazon.com.
 

Metropolitan Klezmer. Photo: Joannie M. Chen, copyright. Metropolitan Klezmer was founded in 1994.

Biographies of Metropolitan Klezmer members
 
Ismail Butera is an accordionist who plays a range of styles including Balkan, Greek, Turkish, Arabic, Albanian and Persian as well as klezmer and other Jewish music, such as Sephardic and Israeli. He has performed with Smyrneiki Kompania (playing various traditional Greek instruments), with The Klezmatics, Andy Statman, Michael Alpert, Song of the Shtetl, Klezmeydlekh & Friends, Klezmerfest, The Noga Group and Yale Strom's Hot P'Stromi, appearing on soundtracks of The Last Klezmer and A Life Apart: Hasidim in America. He has taught on staff at Buffalo Gap Balkan Folk Arts Camp. He is leader of Sharqija, a new ensemble playing music of the Silk Road.
 
Trombonist Rick Faulkner has strong roots in jazz and Afro-Caribbean music, playing everything from salsa to Dixieland to classical and avant-garde. A veteran of famed ska band the Toasters and co-founder of NY Ska Jazz Ensemble, he has performed with Salsa bandleaders Orlando Marin, Raulin Rosendo and Ramon Rodriguez (Conjunto Classico), jazz legends Max Roach and Charli Persip, Cuban guitarist/songwriter Juan Carlos Formell, Haitian stars Tabou Combo and Joe Gallant & Illuminati. He recorded with Sloan Wainwright, Skah Shah #1 and the 1930s revivalist Paul Lindemeyer Orchestra. His arrangements have been played by Michael Brecker and John Scofield. His compositions appear on his solo project Waiting for Rain as well as CDs by Latin jazz band Los Mas Valientes. A BME from Indiana University and an MM in Jazz Performance from Manhattan School of Music, he is on faculty at Mount Hood Jazz Festival and Hunter College.
 
Trumpet/flugelhorn artist Pam Fleming, featured on Yiddish For Travelers, toured with Natalie Merchant in Lilith Fair, where she played nationally as guest soloist with the Indigo Girls as well. She appeared in Bonnie Raitt's recent VH1 video and has performed internationally with the all-women's big band Diva. A composer and leader of the jazz project Fearless Dreamer, playing styles from Salsa to Swing to Funk, she is a graduate of the Eastman School of Music. In addition to extensive work with Reggae star Burning Spear, she has been a guest artist with "Little" Jimmy Scott (Sessions at 54th St. on PBS), Cab Calloway, Bruce Springsteen, Robert Palmer, Arrow, Queen Latifah, Sarah McLachlan and The Klezmatics.
 
Multi-instrumentalist Michael Hess has studied classical violin and viola at the Manhattan School of Music and learned kanun (Middle Eastern zither) from the late Egyptian master Mohammed El Akkad. He is also an accomplished player of Arabic ney flutes and frame drums and a performer of Sephardic music, touring throughout North America, Turkey and Lithuania with Alhambra. He has recorded and/or performed with The Mogador Ensemble, Song of the Shtetl, Klezmeydlekh & Friends, Smyrneiki Kompania and New York Jewish String Ensemble.
 
Bassist/tuba artist Dave Hofstra has played, toured, and recorded extensively in jazz, rock, blues, klezmer, and new music. He has performed with Marshall Crenshaw, Bobby Previte, Lou Grassi, Bobby Radcliff, Grady Gaines, John Zorn, Wayne Horvitz, Robin Holcomb, Debbie Davies, Elliot Sharp, Tom Cora, Guy Klucevsek, Bill Frisell, Toshi Reagon, Luka Bloom, Philip Johnston's Big Trouble, Microscopic Septet, Transparent Quartet, Rachelle Garniez's Fortunate Few & Twilight Time, Casselberry & DuPre, The Waitresses and The Klezmatics.
 
Vocalist Deborah Karpel's eclectic background brings together musical theater, jazz standards, cabaret, Bel Canto opera and Yiddish repertoire from her grandfather. Featured as a soloist in the Obie award-winning Hot Keys at PS 122, she was a regular member of the improvisational group Shock of the Funny. She appeared at the 92nd St. Y Opera Lab and on WNET's City Arts. In addition to art song recitals at New York's Donnell Library, Karpel recently participated in an intensive summer opera workshop in Graz, Austria. She also sings with Intercambio Musicale & Chameleon.
 
Clarinet/saxophone/flutist Debra Kreisberg plays swing, funk, Latin jazz, classical and makes musical theater. After graduating from the Eastman School of Music, she received her master's degree in jazz studies from Manhattan School of Music. She has performed, recorded and written original compositions as a member of D'Tripp and Los Mas Valientes among many other projects, as well as playing with the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, the Rochester Philharmonic with Natalie Cole and Joe Gallant & Illuminati. She is also featured as guest clarinet and alto sax artist on Metropolitan Klezmer's new release.
 
Drummer/bandleader Eve Sicular has performed klezmer, rock, rhythm & blues, and cajun/zydeco with Vilde Khaye, David Krakauer, Klezmerfest, The Voodoobillies, Pink Noise, Mediterraneo and The Mazeltones. She is also playing samba, jazz, swing, and Middle Eastern styles. On staff at Buffalo on the Roof, MameLoshn and KlezKamp, she has taught percussion and Yiddish film history. She has accompanied Tigresa, Rhythm Method, Laura Wetzler, Susan Arrow & the Quivers and Terry Dame's Sax Appeal. She recently led the seven-piece Isle of Klezbos project at Michigan Womyn's Music Festival as well as the all-female Anna & The Tevka's. Eve Sicular played for myriad theater and soundtrack pieces. A former curator of Film & Photo Archives at YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, she received an honors degree in History & Literature of Russia from Harvard-Radcliffe.

Deutsch Politik Geschichte Kunst Film Musik Lebensart Reisen
English Politics History Art Film Music Lifestyle Travel
Français Politique Histoire Arts Film Musique Artdevivre Voyages

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© Copyright www.cosmopolis.ch  Louis Gerber  All rights reserved.