Klezmer With An Edge

David Krakauer

Live in Krakow (Label Bleu LBLC 6667)

Any CD that kicks off with a mix of Klezmer clarinet aided by samples from a
beatbox then manages to throw in some tearaway electric guitar has got my
attention right off. The opening track has all of this plus snatches of older
Jewish music and it makes for a joyfully arresting start to an inventive and
exciting CD.
Krakauer’s clarinet style owes much to the music he has spent 15 years exploring
and reviving. It sings and cries distinctively, lovingly caressing the melodies
or equally sending out disturbing squalls of angry intensity. But mostly it is a
source of joy and exuberance. For example on ‘Dusky Bulgar’ he spars with
accordionist, Will Holshouser as the pair create a riotous blend of Klezmer and
wild improvisation, each pushing and encouraging the other.

One of the most beautiful tracks however is ‘Offering Nign’ which again
features both men. This time the clarinet explores every nuance of Krakauer’s
melody conveying rare depths of emotion. It is his offering to a city whose past
he clearly feels a strong affinity with. But it is not a sentimental journey,
rather a heartfelt and emotive response to place and culture. Every note counts
as he articulates through his instrument what words may not be able to express.
It really is a life-affirming and uplifting performance and guitarist Sheryl
Bailey and drummer Michael Sarin also deserve fulsome praise.

On other tracks Krakauer pays homage to jazz and the Polish/Jewish clarinet
music of Naftule Brandwine. Mixed in with this are more beats from Socalled and
lovely taut bass from Nicki Parrott who also provides some funky electric bass

The whole album has a truly live feel and I wish I could have been at the
Indigo Club where it all happened. The place is not far from Auschwitz which
makes it an emotionally charged venue, as Krakauer says. This is especially
evident on ‘Love Song For Lemberg/Lvov which voices a universal sense of
suffering by means of dark turbulent outbursts in what is otherwise a graceful
and elegant song.
I loved this mix of Klezmer, jazz and other genres as it creates music that is
vital and energizing. It is played with evident love and respect and well worth
spending some time with.

Author: Paul Donnelly