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Whoa, so this is klezmer! A freewheeling clarinet wailing in front of a hard rock beat, dueling it out with a screaming electric guitar. That's "Tribe Number Thirteen," the opening cut on David Krakauer's new neo-klezmer CD, The Twelve Tribes. A wild, wild ride.
Krakauer started his career as a classical musician, studying at Julliard; but in the '80s, klezmer called. Klezmer is the often frenetic, highly improvised Eastern European Jewish folk music that came to this country with the immigrants in the early part of the twentieth century. The Twelve Tribes represents Krakauer's fourth recorded foray into klezmer, and he makes a successful marriage here between the traditional/folkloric with the modern/forward-looking, with the expressed desire to maintain the rawness of the klezmer recordings of the '20s. He did it: This is clarinet/accordion/bass/drums in the hands of musicians seemingly possessed, sounds that take a time warp back to early twentieth century Jewish ghettos ("The Gypsy Bulgar", "Chusen Kale Mazel Tov"), and then fast forward back to the 1990s for some guitar-driven garage rock, klezmer style ("Tribe Number Thirteen"), or into the new millennium on klezmer hip hop tune, "As If", that features Canadian D.J. Socalled on sampler/sequencer behind Krakauer's clarinet. It sounds ridiculous on paper (or the computer screen)that most organic of musical sounds, the dark wood and reed sonics of the clarinet juxtaposed with the sythesized electronical thump and throb of hip hop. Somehow, though, it works.
Track Listing: Tribe Number Thirteen, The Kozatzk/Der Ziser, Teh Gypsy Bulgar, Chusen
Kale Mazel Tov, Queen of the Midnight Fax, The New Year After, Bulgar,
Der Gasn Nign, Television Frailachs, Table Pounding, As If
Personnel: David Krakauer, clarinet; Kevin O'Neil Shofar and vocals, Roger Kleier,
electic guitar, Will Holshouser, accordion; Nicki Parrott, bass; Kevin
Norton, percussion; Socalled, sampler/sequencer
As a kid, my mom told me I'd like jazz. I thought she was nuts. Then I went to hear Cannonball Adderley (with Nat Adderley, George Duke, Walter Booker, Roy McCurdy and Airto) and everything changed. Yeah, mom knows best.