In August, for Itzhak Perlman’s birthday, I listened to a live album of KLEZMER music that he performed on. Classical violin virtuoso Perlman gives klezmer a certain cache that the music did not have heretofore.
Here he joins four klezmer groups “for a joyous get-together with unforgettable Klezmer melodies.”
But what IS klezmer?
From this source:
Klezmer music originated in the ‘shtetl’ (villages) and the ghettos of Eastern Europe, where itinerant Jewish troubadours, known as ‘klezmorim’, performed at joyful events (‘simkhes’), particularly weddings…It was inspired with secular melodies, popular dances, ‘khazones’ (khazanut, Jewish liturgy) as well as with the ‘nigunim’, the simple and often wordless melodies intended by the ‘Hasidim’ (orthodox Jews) for approaching God in a kind of ecstatic communion. In (mutual) contact with Slavonic, Greek, Ottoman (Turkish), Arabic, Gypsy and -later- American jazz musicians, the ‘klezmorim’ acquired, through numerous tempo changes, irregular rhythms, dissonance and a touch of improvisation, the ability to generate a very diversified music, easily recognizable and widely appreciated all around the world.
This article notes the decline of klezmer in the 1950s and 1960s. But the music was “revived on US records in the late 1970s. In San Francisco, the Klezmorim released the earliest klezmer revival album I’ve seen — ‘East Side Wedding’ (1977 on the national Arhoolie label). It’s an eclectic mix of styles from the nearly frantic ‘Trello Hasaposerviko (Crazy Dance)’ to the melancholy ‘Doina’.”
I’m fascinated by this because I OWN ‘East Side Wedding’! I must have bought it at a folk festival in the late 1970s or early 1980s, maybe at the Old Songs Festival that takes place every June in the Albany, NY area.
It’s happy music, yet holds a certain wistfulness. I think that’s why I am attracted to it.
A whole bunch more klezmer music.
Very seldom do I get to blog about comic books for my work blog. But some legal issues involving the late Jack KIRBY, the artist who created or co-created dozens of famous comic book characters, including Captain America, gave me that rare opportunity. You can read it here.