Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

David Krakauer: Live in Krakow

In klezmer music, a clarinet and accompanying accordion play in minor to very-minor keys, and the songs are highly ornamented melodic lines full of trills, vibratos, melismas and bent tones in repeated four-bar cadences. David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness makes it fusion music by ingeniously mixing thundering rock and funk beats, samba and hambone rhythms and metallic jazz-rock guitar with the form’s traditional melodic-harmonic foundation. Though klezmer is historically Eastern European Jewish music, to me it sounds very Eastern Mediterranean. Its dependence on a few minor modes may suggest a limited scope, but as Live in Krakow proves that to the contrary, this music offers a range of emotions from whimsy and tenderness to sorrowing darkness.

Klezmer Madness is a close band with tight arrangements. The rousing opener “Turntable Pounding” has at least six layers of activity, from slow, booming bass drum through rock guitar to high, hyperactive vocal. A slow tribute to historic klezmer clarinetist Naftule Brandwein has a fast middle section with gathering ensemble density, topped by Krakauer’s near-Dixieland clarinet; when the rhythm stops, a passage of free-ensemble improvisation ensues. The ambitious waltz “Love Song for Lemberg/Lvov” finds each sweet phrase invaded and halted by dissonant, chaotic chords-“The screams of the Jewish dead,” Krakauer says.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published