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David Krakauer’s Klezmer Madness!: The Twelve Tribes

For a walk on the wild Lower East Side, it’s worth checking out clarinetist David Krakauer. If you’ve been following his work, you know he has iron chops, a deep grasp of Jewish musicology and the ability to play in and outside the tradition. He’s also been at this longer than most of the klezmer kinder today, so it’s always interesting to hear what his group, the appropriately named Klezmer Madness, comes up with. “Tribe Number Thirteen,” the first tune on Krakauer’s latest release, The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu), starts with a funky, second-line strut set by drummer Kevin Norton. Bassist Nicki Parrott then lays into the deep pocket, Krakauer hits the head and solos with a clipped, swinging shriek and guitarist Kevin O’Neil follows with a 6-string sonic cataclysm. The rest of the disc may not be quite as exhilarating as those first three minutes, but Krakauer and crew build momentum with both “The Kozatzke/Der Ziser” and “Bulgar,” one of Dave Tarras’ lesser-known gems. He also displays a Bechetlike vibrato on the traditional wedding song of congratulations, “Chusen Kale Mazel Tov.” The group goes on to cast a spell with the trance-inducing, guitar-looped “Table Pounding,” indulges in some silliness with “Television Frailachs” (Car 54 Where Are You?!), and gets textural with the trip-hop mix “As If.” Most moving of all is “The New Year After,” which evokes the nightmare of 9/11 and was recorded just one week after the planes hit.

Originally Published