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The Klezmatics: Pushing Klezmer's Boundaries

The Klezmatics may be the leading klezmer group in the U.S. today, but its members play in much more than just the one style. Jewish music that originated in Eastern Europe, klezmer arrived in America with a large influx of Eastern European Jews in the early 20th century. Combining jazz and Tin Pan Alley influences in the New World, klezmer became a unique American music style.

In the 1970s, bands such as the Klezmorim and Henry Sapoznik's Kapelye helped revive klezmer for a new generation of fans. Since coming together in the mid-'80s, The Klezmatics' members have resided at the genre's forefront while pushing it in new and innovative directions.

Playing at KEXP at the start of a weeklong Northwest tour, The Klezmatics performed a rousing and diverse set of songs, each showcasing the chops that brought its members a world-music Grammy two years ago. Led by founding members — singer and accordionist Lorin Sklamberg and trumpeter Frank London — the group also includes bassist and tsimbl (hammered dulcimer) player Paul Morrissett, saxophonist and clarinetist Matt Darriau, violinist Lisa Gutkin and drummer Aaron Alexander. Together, they opened with the rousing dance tune "Sirba," followed by a suite of original compositions written for the Pilobolus Dance Ensemble. They also played two tunes, "Mermaid's Avenue" and "Lolly Lo," from their recent work with the Woody Guthrie foundation and his lyrics, which resulted in The Klezmatics' Grammy-winning album Wonder Wheel.

Originally recorded Feb. 24, 2009. Engineered by Kevin Suggs.

Listen to the previous Favorite Session, or see our full archive.

Copyright 2009 KEXP

Jon Kertzer