Gregory G. H. Rihn (milwaukeesfs) wrote,
Gregory G. H. Rihn
milwaukeesfs

The Klezmatics

On Saturday the 3rd of November, we went to the Zelazo Center at UWM for a concert by the Klezmatics. The Klezmatics are to klezmer music--Jewish music heavily influenced by Eastern European styles--what The Chieftains are to Irish music: so known and respected that other artists come to you to help them in their work.

We got samples showing that during this excellent concert. The band opened with two fast and sprightly klezmer numbers. There was no program or set list, so I didn't get names. Then we got a piece the group had composed and performed for Pilobolus Dance Theater, "Davening," which was a more contemplative piece, almost symphonic in its arrangment. Another such collaboration for a New York theatre group's adaptation of the folk tale "The Dybbuk," yeilded an eerie tune called "Die Geister" (The Ghosts) which was very seasonal.

Pushing the season just a bit, the group also gave us a couple of Woody Guthrie's Hannukah tunes, such as "Happy Joyous Hanukka."

The Klezmatics are a New York-based group and had jus come back from a European tour in time for Storm Sandy. After having spent four days without power, they were glad to be in Milwaukee, and played songs about the New York area such as "Manhattan Man," and "Mermaid Avenue" with special feeling. Frank London joked that the dressing rooms in the Zelazo Center were designated as "hurricane shelter" (tornado shelter), which was a great idea and they could use that in New York--.

Current members include composers Matt Darriau, alto saxophone, clarinet, and kaval (a type of flute), and Frank London, on trumpet and keys, Paul Morrissett playing bass and tsimbl cimbalom, vocalist Lorin Sklamberg on accordion and piano, Lisa Gutkin on violin and vocals, and David Licht on drums. All the group members are virtuosic in ability and played with great energy and joy. (And sometimes amazing speed. Most Klezmer music is fast and happy, except when it is slow and pensive.) I was pleased to see that, in these days of beat-boxes, the Klezmatics travel with a classic drum kit: bass, snare, two tom-toms, basic cymbals, wood block and cowbell. In a drum solo, however, Licht did some extraordinary things with them using unusual techniques.

It's always a particular privlege to have a performance by those who are the best in the world at what they do, and this is true of the Klezmatics. The close of the concert drew a standing ovation, and their encore, "Ale Brider" (All Are Brothers) had audience members dancing in the aisles.

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Tags: music
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