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David Krakauer: A New Hot One

Clarinetists like David Krakauer don’t grow on trees. From a technical standpoint the classically trained Krakauer is superb. His improvising is unique and immediately recognizable; he’s synthesized the styles of klezmer clarinetists and New Orleans jazz great Sidney Bechet, frequently employing glissandi and a heavy vibrato. Moreover, Krakauer performs fiercely, almost primitively; the way he spits notes reminds me of the playing of a shofar (ram’s horn) player. Krakauer, impressive though he is, can be criticized for his indifference to pacing and construction. He doesn’t seem to conceive of a solo as a whole, doesn’t connect his phrases or build particularly well and, considering the variety of musical forms he’s familiar with, employs a relatively limited vocabulary.

Krakauer was for some time a member of The Klezmatics, and he still works in a modern klezmer genre. He can be heard on A New Hot One with electric guitarist Mark Stewart, accordionist Ted Reichman, bassists Pablo Aslan or Nicky Parrott and avant-garde jazz drummer Kevin Norton.

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