David Krakauer featuring Klez. Madness! & Socalled Krakauer Live in Krakow Review

Released 2003.  

BBC Review

'This is the sound of a cultural heritage being successfully equipped to weather the...

Chris Jones 2004

David Krakauer's place in the modern klezmer movement is crucial. A classical clarinet virtuoso with Ashkenazi (Eastern European Yiddish) roots, he didn't actually start playing or listening to klezmer until the late 70's. When he did, the epiphany led to him joining the avant-garde Klezmatics and then establishing his own band, Klezmer madness!, whose initial releases on John Zorn's Tzadik label definitely updated Yiddish festive music for today's audiences.

Recorded at the Indigo Club in his ancestral home of Krakow, Krakauer and KM! prove that their brand of passionate traditionalism mixed with contemporary styles isn't just a studio-bound confection. "Table Pounding" (from 2002's Twelve Tribes) gets a retooling here as the opener "Turntable Pounding". It allows the newest collaborator, Canadian DJ Socalled (with whom Krakauer worked on last year's excellent HipHop Khasene), to weave his magic via decks and samples, adding a welcome new dimension.

KM! easily turn their hand to all permutations of klezmer, from the jazzy intricacies of "Klezmer a la Bechet" to the swaggering celebratory nature of traditional tunes like "Naftule's Nussach". Michael Sarin's drums remove any possibility of Socalled's beats making this a sterile exercise in fusion for fusion's sake, and Krakauer's joyful clarinet rides the mix exhilaratingly. His solo on "Offering Nign" (dedicated to the city of Krakow) is particularly moving considering the region's painful associations for Jewish artists.

This is the sound of a cultural heritage being successfully equipped to weather the next 100 years, no matter how stormy.

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