Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Living Traditions CD Series Concert

Tonight's evening program was an opportunity to introduce this year's KlezKampers to the Living Traditions CD series documenting some of the treasured elders of our community. These recordings are each made during the four days of a KlezKamp and feature stellar ensembles of our staff musicians. The first one, recorded atKlezKamp 21 and released last year, documented the playing and repertoire of the late German Goldenstein, who died unexpectedly shortly after it was completed. Fortunately, the subjects of both last year's effort, Ray Musiker, and Elaine Hoffman Watts (who is being recorded this year) were on hand to received some well-deserved koved from the crowd in the Manhattan Theater.

The evening began with the ensemble that recorded the Ray Musiker CD: Ray (of course), Ken Maltz, Mike Cohen, Aaron Alexander, Jim Guttmann, Henry Sapoznik and Pete Sokolow, who was the musical director for the project and provided informative introductions to each tune. They performed six selections, and I found the arrangements totally delightful. The playing was wonderful, as were the tunes, many of which had been written by Ray himself. This half of the show closed with the beautiful arrangement of Papirosn by Sam Musiker that I had last heard played on the KlezKamp stage by Ray, Howie Leess and Paul Pincus.

After a brief talk by Henry on the need for community support of this important series, the ensemble that is in the process of recording Elaine and her family's unique musical heritage came on stage. I have always loved both Elaine and her drumming, and she was in excellent form tonight. I was especially moved when she pointed out it was kind of amazing that KlezKamp had on staff this year not one, but two winners of the prestigious National Heritage Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, and that both were women.

This band consisted of Elaine, her daughter Susan Watts, Mike Cohen, Ken Maltz, Dan Blacksberg, Adrian Banner and Mark Rubin, and they performed some amazing tunes from the Hoffman family archives, including a freylekhs that Elaine's father had written for her. The concert closed with a beautiful waltz that made me cry, and I remembered that it had also made me cry the first time I heard it, back at the Paramount in a class in which Hankus Netsky was interviewing Elaine and a fellow Philadelphia musician, Joseph Buloff. It was a moving end to a very moving evening.

It occurred to me while I listened how incredible and unique this project is: When the current CD is completed, we will have three recordings representing three completely different klezmer styles and repertoires, each equally authentic and each equally beautiful and engaging. As Henry said this evening, we may not have the money we need to support all the projects we want to accomplish, but we beyond wealthy in human resources. I feel really lucky to be a part of this organization and to play a role in making these projects happen.

Photos from the Front.....

Pete Sokolow

Andy Statman

Beyle Schaechter-Gotteman

Some guy on Bass

Jimmy Gutman and other dancers

Photos by Alan Lankin

Last night's Staff Concert

Heiko Lehmann at the Staff Concert

Last night's Staff Concert was full of noteworthy performances each of which would be the highlight of any other klezmer concert.

One of the highlights of those highlights for me was nonagenarian KK dance teacher Felix Fibich's improvisational dance accompanied by accordionist Evan Harlan, our terrific new accordion teacher.  Others were a rocking duet by Mark Rubin on bass fiddle and Andy Statman on mandolin, Michael Winograd's clarinet turn, Paula Teitelbaum and Susan Leviton's solo songs, Michael Wex's hilarious comments as emcee and so many others.

Henry Sapoznik and other KK Staff during the Staff Concert

The evening concluded with dancing to staff and student bands as well as another night of KlezKamp cabaret, this time featuring Yiddish Art Song.

Pete Rushefsky & Madeline Solomon dance the night away

Photos by Nina Becker

Aloha from KlezKamp!

Hard to believe that KlezKamp is more than half over (it's Wednesday after lunch as I write). Radio KlezKamp is broadcasting, small groups of students are practicing in the lobby, others are browsing Sal Kluger's impressive retail array, and still others are juggling. Ah yes, this is the sensory potpourri that is KlezKamp at its finest.

I had just finished with the Slow Jam in the lobby just before dinner yesterday, when I heard Carol (my other half) calling to me excitedly. "Can you play Pua Mana for us so we can dance?" she asked. She had found a fellow ukulele player and they had discovered that they both know the hula to this beloved Hawaiian song (in my non-KK life, we are part-time residents of the aloha state and in fact will be returning there next week). So, for the first time at KlezKamp, traditional hula was performed.

Not Yiddish, but very KlezKamp.