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David Krakauer The Twelve Tribes Review

Album. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Klezmer folk pushed in a raw jazzy direction by this New York based clarinet player. ...

Nick Reynolds 2002

David Krakauer is a man on a mission. He's trying to push the tradition of Jewish Klezmer music forward. Klezmer has it's roots in the folk music of Eastern Europe (Romania, Poland, Russia and the Ukraine). It was first brought to the US in the early part of this century, and was to a large extent destroyed in the Holocaust. But in the past twenty years Klezmer has enjoyed a revival, and Krakauer, like fellow New Yorker John Zorn, is trying to examine his heritage and add something contemporary.

Originally this was music for weddings and dances, fast and celebratory. Krakauer pushes it even further in this direction. The opening track, "Tribe Number Thirteen" shows you where he's coming from. Some nasty electric guitar wrestles with a grumpy accordion, busy drumming and Krakauer's clarinet, accentuating the rawliveliness of the original tradition. The nervy, high-pitched excitement of this music can make you feel a bit giddy.

Krakauer is a superb clarinet player. He makes the instrument sing out, shriek and whinny, and holds some startlingly long notes. He dominates the band, more than holding his own against the aggression of guitarists Roger Kieler and Kevin O'Neil.

There's plenty of contrast on the album: a mixture of original material, and traditional songs like "The Gypsy Bulgar". "Table Pounding" is based on the old hassidic tradition of banging the table to create a hypnotic rhythm. "Television Frailachs" amusingly incorporates TV themes from the fifties and sixties, while "As If", adds a hip hop beat and samples of choppy guitar, rather successfully. "Der Gasn Nign" starts lyrical and dreamy and then builds to a dramatic climax.

Traditionalists may find it all a bit too much. But if you like your folk music raw, or have a taste for edgy jazz, you'll enjoy this.

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