by Eszter Hargittai on February 23, 2004

I went to a great klezmer concert yesterday in Princeton. It started off with the Princeton University student klezmer group: the Klezmocrats. They are a talented young group. The main attraction was the Klez Dispensers. They, too, started out as a Princeton student group some years ago but by now work independently. It’s been wonderful to watch them grow over the years. They’re amazing. But don’t take my word for it (admittedly somewhat biased given my friendships with about half of them:), according to Pete Sokolow they are “the finest young group playing classic American Klezmer style today”. I recommend their new CD, the New Jersey Freylekhs. (I realize blogging about this before the concert would have been more helpful than doing so after.. I’ll try to be better about that next time.)

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John Quiggin 02.24.04 at 9:41 am

I’m running across more and more allusions to klezmer, but still don’t know exactly what it is. What’s a good place to start (if it helps, my musical background is primarily trad Anglo-Celtic folk).


dsquared 02.24.04 at 10:40 am

Yiddish polka. To my ear, prety difficult listening, but otoh I have some faily strong views on the subject of Celtic folk music.


John Isbell 02.24.04 at 3:00 pm

Polka seems unfair. Swirling fiddle lines: I think there’s some in Fiddler on the Roof. You get polka in Good Morning Vietnam, I hate that. This I like. Oddly, I went to my first klezmer concert this Saturday. Lots of dancing, including someone trying cossack dancing which seemed a bit unexpected.


john theibault 02.24.04 at 7:29 pm

Coincidentally, I was at the same concert. Not that I would have recognized Ester if I had seen her. It was lots of fun.

I think the usual descriptive is “East European Jazz.” Trumpets and clarinets (and fiddle) carry the melody with a jazz trio backup. As I recall, “modern” klezmer became popular in the 1980s with the Klezmorim and Klezmer Conservatory Band.


eszter 02.24.04 at 7:43 pm

John T – that’s funny. I wouldn’t have recognized you either, I’m afraid. I was running around quite a bit saying hi to the band members and catching up with folks in the audience.

John Q – I’m not an expert, not sure where to start.. that CD is as good a place as any, I think.:) If you were to look at its history seriously, it’s probably quite complicated with lots of influences. I don’t know enough about music to give you a description. If you watch Sex and the City:), they had a Jewish wedding where a famous Klezmer band played. (One of the Klez Dispensers stood in for the trumpet player, that was neat.:)

Much of it is very upbeat and it’s almost impossible to stay in your seat.;)


Miss Authoritiva 02.25.04 at 3:51 am

Does anybody know? I once caught a wonderful program block of klezmer music on an Italian radio station (this was online radio). I’ve never been able to find it again. Does anyone have any idea what station I might have been listening to? Thanks.

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