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The Klezmatics, early 2000s line-up.
|Members||Matt Darriau, Frank London, Paul Morrissett, Lorin Sklamberg, Lisa Gutkin, David Licht, Richie Barshay|
|David Krakauer, Margot Leverett, Kurt Bjorling,|
The Klezmatics are an American klezmer music group based in New York City, who have achieved fame singing in several languages, most notably mixing older Yiddish tunes with other types of more contemporary music of differing origins. They have also recorded pieces in Aramaic and Bavarian. The Klezmatics wanted the Jewish culture and Yiddish language to live through the Klezmer band.
Current members include composers Matt Darriau, alto saxophone, clarinet, and kaval, 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 or Richie Barshay on drums.
Past members include David Krakauer, Margot Leverett, Kurt Bjorling on the clarinet, Alicia Svigals on violin, and David Lindsay on bass. In addition, Boo Reiners, Susan McKeown, Joshua Nelson, Chava Alberstein, and Aaron Alexander have frequently collaborated with the band.
The Klezmatics appeared live, in June 2003, in collaboration with the Jenaer Philharmonie of Jena, Germany. They have also participated in cross-cultural collaborations, notably with the Romani virtuoso Ferus Mustafov, Israeli singers Chava Alberstein and Ehud Banay, American singer Arlo Guthrie, and Moroccan musicians The Master Musicians of Jajouka.
In Berlin, they worked with poet Allen Ginsberg. Trumpeter Frank London composed the score for Pilobolus Dance Theater's work, Davenen, which the band performed. The members come from different musical backgrounds. Drummer Richie Barshay plays jazz with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Violinist Lisa Gutkin came from a predominantly Celtic background before joining the band.
The Klezmatics' 20th anniversary concert took place at New York City's Town Hall on March 5, 2006. That event is included in the documentary chronicling the band's history and significance, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground (2010). Five years later, they recorded a 25th anniversary CD at the same location.
Wonder Wheel, released in 2006, showcased lyrics by American folk icon Woody Guthrie, selected by the band from the Woody Guthrie archive. Although the music draws primarily from a wide range of Americana, not klezmer, the album won a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary World Music Album. Another album of Guthrie material, with music drawn from the band's more usual Yiddish, Eastern European Jewish music roots, Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah, was released the same year. Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, has appeared with them. Other key collaborations include the music to Tony Kushner's adaptation of The Dybbuk, ""A Dybbuk: Between Two Worlds"",The Well: Klezmatics with Chava Alberstein in which poetry by several prominent Yiddish poets was set to music, and Brother Moses Smote the Water with Jewish gospel-style singer, Joshua Nelson.