Right that that’s where i saw you first when you’re giving, i think a cluster workshop or something yeah last uh last april. Oh all right! That was an old one, huh! Well uh! Yes, i get one like at the beginning of this whole corona episode, uh.
I gave one uh open uh session, but actually since then, uh i’ve started a whole course of uh 20 meetings. We just just did our 16th meeting today. It’S about to end great we’re. Jumping right in here there is no formal, yeah right anything uh interesting. So those are the same people over over those sessions that continue to learn from you or well.
There’S the people that were on the on the session you attended, uh were different. There were a lot more actually. I had at that time, almost 60 people from all over the world or people from brazil. People from i don’t know from wherever uh. No, since then i i actually you know i.
I was supposed to give uh a course at the academy in jerusalem, the university, where i teach uh, which was supposed to be open for any kind of participant, not necessarily the the university students, and i suggested them to open it up for a live stream. Each session, and so there were quite a lot of people interested from uh from around the world and eventually that course did not happen because of the lockdowns and everything, so i decided to open it. Nevertheless, on zoom, so i have a group. I have two groups of about seven or eight people, each group, so it’s quite intimate people from uh, from australia, from the united states from europe and, of course, here from israel, so we’re meeting once a week. I’M editing twice each group once a week and and for 20 sessions uh.
It allows us to really dig very deep into this whole klezmer thing really going through each and every mode. Looking at the different repertoire, that’s written in every mode. Looking at how this mode functions, one in front of the other, so how you modulate from one mode to the other different kinds of songs, songs in two songs in three, like the every aspect of the of this genre, that’s that’s called klezmer, it’s surprisingly, quite deep, As simple as it sounds as simple as it is, it’s it’s simple: it’s not jazz, but it’s uh, it’s actually very deep and we write music. They write their own tunes. They learn how to arrange their tunes.
They learn how to improvise in that language. So it allows us to go really deep and it’s great. I love it and i think they like it as well. Very interesting yeah. I would love to talk a bit more about that.
But let’s uh go back for a minute and tell us how everything started. Uh, i i usually i don’t prepare for those interviews to be to to learn first hand. So i just i just read: one quote on your website: uh got a tape from betty goodman and one from jorah feidman and somehow they both played the same instrument as i can tell and yeah the rest. You will tell us yeah so that that’s uh, that’s the essence of my uh of my basic relationship to music, i mean i’m, i’m from a musical family. My mother is a piano teacher.
My brother is a very good pianist and and uh music producer, and my grandfather was a violinist. So it’s it’s like it’s in it’s running in the family for for a few generations already, but i remember very clearly that after my second clarinet lesson when i was about six or seven years old, my mom came back home with the tape of cura, fademan and So that was basically the very first recorded clarinet sound i’ve ever heard in my life, and i don’t know if you’re familiar with this plane, but this is something that no matter your origins or your tendencies it. It throws an arrow straight to your heart. It’S it’s very capturing yeah. It is playing yeah, it’s very touching and it’s uh.
He speaks straight to the soul, whether you like it or not, i mean there’s. There are a few musicians. I know that uh that there is no instrument, uh interference, it’s just straight straight soul speaking so girlfriend is one of them and i was very, very touched with it. I i assume, because later on, instead of uh practicing my attitudes for my teacher, i would sit with this tape and just grab every note of it. And a year later my father came home with a tape of benny goodman, and i listened to that tape as well so many times that i think the tape recorder could could play without the tape uh.
It was uh yeah, so so swing, so klezmer and swing were my main influences and my first uh influences and there was classical music played at home, but i didn’t get into serious playing and serious practicing until i was about 12 or 13 And then i i i was drawn to get really serious about classical playing, and so i you know i basically stopped for a while with all the nonsense quote. Unquote and i i did serious work of scales and then – and you know, attitudes and repertoire, and i and symphonic works, and i was i was deeply into into classical music and and i got accepted to the paris conservatory, where i did my first degree and then I continued to do my second degree at juilliard in new york and in new york. I started playing klezmer again and at the beginning just for fun, because i i guess my my system needed it, but but then i started doing it in a professional way: uh uh joining uh a very interesting group that combined plasma music with cuban music. So that’s that’s uh that sums up the essence of new york city in new york. Uh.
You can find any kind of combination of music and it works. So so that was uh. That was a very exciting band to be a part of um. It was an existing band. The first clarinetist in this band was david krakauer and after him, um met dario, replaced him.
Matt is a wonderful musician playing any kind of of of tube, not just clarinet saxophone flutes everything and when he uh got too busy. Couldn’T do that gig somehow um they got to me and i started playing in his band. We recorded a few albums for the tabby label. You know john zorn’s label toured in europe. Quite a lot played at the krakow jewish culture festival and i i had another another little band of klezmer but kind of original klezmer, not uh playing the old tunes writing or on tunes.
It was. It was a trio, a weird kind of trio playing uh myself. A violinist and a bass guitarist, that’s it kind of weird: we called ourselves class shop and uh and um, so that was my new york uh plasma, a long side to of playing a lot of contemporary music classical contemporary music yeah. I’M aware that you’re a accomplished classical musician uh, but and it’s good to mention, of course, but i just uh narrow it down to the to the jazz customer, because this is the general for for that, that i decided to to focus uh yeah the clarinet and That kind of music, but just as a little side, note uh. So it is gyora that it is gilad right.
Yes, my name is gilad. The g yeah, the g is uh. Yeah yeah learns something again beautiful, um, yeah, yeah, and, and is there something like we will go back to that um online course you’re, giving how to learn uh klezmer um? Have you come up with a system that you basically can teach everyone who’s interested? I think i did, i think i finally did you know it’s like a language.
When you speak a language, you speak it and you don’t uh, you never stop thinking uh. Why am i saying it this way? Not the other way until you have to teach it i’d, be curious to hear how you uh got your jazz education, because for me jazz uh jazz. I i also study jazz recently quite seriously, because i love this music and i and i i need to know how to do it. The way you guys do it and i i realized that on one hand, there are many methods.
On the other hand, there isn’t a single method to to teach you jazz many i’ve seen many good teachers and each one of them told me something else and eventually you know i do my my thing. I you know all the copying, charlie parker and the sony student, and all these great guys and working on the blues and two five ones, and all that all that big. You know, but i believe that there should be – and there can be a method to learn a language to to to take a student from zero to 10, at least and then supply him with enough tools to take it further on, because it’s limitless there’s. No, there isn’t a single place where you say: that’s it. I know everything i mean sonny rollins was practicing on all the time so and i think that um.
So when i started teaching at the university about 10 or 11 years old 10 years ago – and we started a course over there for klezmer music, i had to start an and come up with a method, and i obviously it’s someone else, has another method. You know there are many ways to teach a certain language, especially when it comes to music or it’s kind of abstract, but um. I think that nowadays i i came up with something that’s very efficient and that gives the student both the tools to understand the language. To uh to use the right accent, because that’s also important in language, if you don’t swing, it will never sound like jazz, and if you don’t know how and where to ornament, it will not sound like like klezmer. That brings me to a question.
If i may interrupt it is um, is it necessary to learn the language of the of the country as well? You think, no, not at all hebrew is actually not the language of placement. If at all, it’s yiddish, which is a is a, is a dialect of the jews of eastern europe and it’s a it’s a kind of a mixture between hebrew and german, okay, and so, if at all, this music is uh is, is its language? Is yiddish, um and the dialect of the prayers of that uh part of of the world? So eastern europe, because jews there are also jews in morocco and africa and and south america and other places.
So it’s mainly eastern europe, but i you don’t necessarily have to know the language. I personally don’t speak yiddish. Okay, i’ve heard i heard yiddish all my life because of my grandparents, but i don’t speak the language. It does help listening to people saying songs in this language and, of course, learning a musical language is first and foremost about listening. You can have all the theories and the and the licks and whatever, if you don’t listen hours and hours and hours and play along and copy the experts copy, those that you find that they sound best you’re not going to get it.
That’S that’s a given. No other method uh can can do the trick if you don’t listen hours to no end and copy for sure, but i think that same with jazz you can cop, if you copy, say you copy uh, 10 choruses of of charlie parker, that’s great and you are Able to really sound like him in terms of articulation and time and all that good you’re still not able, i think, you’re still not able to take a simple solo on a blues by yourself. If you don’t understand. What is it, that is doing right you got ta you, have to understand and your hand you have to be able to. Take that little phrase, he’s doing, over over, a dominant, chord and change it juggle it around yourself.
You know make it. Your own, it’s the same, so it’s a combination of listening tones imitating tones but understanding and that’s uh. That’S what i’m trying to do in in my in my course and showing them the modes showing them how they function and showing them how they go from one another in a tune and learning how to express the mode in the right field. And that’s another thing. That’S that’s kind of unique both to klezmer and to to you know, to turkish music and to arabic, music, music that uses what we call the macam system.
You know what the macam is a mode. It’S a it’s another name for a mode and the difference between when you, when you learn either classical music or jazz. You talk about modes right. You talk about the dorian scale, the the fridging scale. You talk about scales and then you just in order to to demonstrate you play the scale up and down in turkish music and in classmate music.
There are modes, but these modes are actual melodies, so you actually learn a melody and the mode is hiding within the melody. Okay and that’s the main difference, you never play a scale just practicing up and down, because it’s uh it’s irrelevant to the music. It’S not gon na get you anywhere, but when you play an as a line, a melodic line, you get the the the right taste of the mode and you are able to to recognize it in a tune and to work with it. I think i think most of us that are just listening on the surface or have a a vague idea. It’S when you hear that uh harmonic minor fifth uh scale is it?
Can you tell yes, can you tell us a bit about that myth or what’s going on it’s a myth, it’s a myth. It’S a myth, because what your ear recognizes is basically the augmented second, that’s somewhere in the mode right. What you hear you can demonstrate softly because it’s a it’s like, but what you hear is this either this. So you hear this half a step between the first degree and the second degree, and you hit the augmented second and you relate it to a different key. You actually related to this [ Music ], you related to the harmonic minor, but it’s it’s it’s not true.
The truth is that two of the main modes. Actually it’s very simple in case when i began by saying that there are only four modes. That’S it! It’S a whole story, uh, so two might two minor: two majors, okay, uh and two of them have that augmented. Second, in that half step, and none of them are actually the harmonic minor, the first one, the major one is uh is, but the turkish music calls hijaz and what the klezmer people call ahava, which is the name from the jewish prayer.
Ahava means lots of love. Sounds good and other people call it friggish because it’s almost phrygian, but not all together, phrygian because of the augmented second, so we start from the tonic. It’S a major mode. First of all, if i play just the the the chord i get simple major mode uh, with a with uh, with the lowered seventh degree, so [, Music, ] and then from the first from the tonic. To its second degree, there’s half a step and therefore to the major third.
There is an augmented second, so you get this sound [, Music, ], okay, its brother-in-law, is lying a step below. So if i start that same mode from the 7th degree, i get a minor mode, [ Music ], which is another mode, that’s very typical to the eu. When you hear klezmer, of course, most of the tunes are written in this or in the other one, and none of them have has anything to do with harmonic minor. It’S just that our western ear uh, when when we hear that augmented. Second, it’s an immediately uh a harmonic minor for us, but the tonics are are different.
The tonics are away from that uh in this case, from a minor yeah. So there are, there are really like, like uh siblings, it’s the it’s the friggish and what and the other one we call it uh alter dorian, because it’s like a dorian, but it’s altered because it’s cutting the augmented uh a second between the third and the fourth Degree, so we also get a tritone between the fourth degree and the tonic, and so these that’s kind of the basics. The other thing is that every mode of the four has its basic content, but many little alterations you can, you can play around with to color it more so it gets it gets. It gets somewhat complicated, not again not as complicated as as plain giant steps but uh, but still uh. There’S quite a lot to very interesting that you can break it down and make it explainable to to beginners or or even uh, to people who are already a bit familiar and playing already but uh so yeah.
But but once you know, this is all theory which is good, but once you once you hear it, and – and you know you point out that here it is you see that see it’s, okay, it’s it’s not so complicated. It’S uh! It’S actually quite quickly. You just have to you know: spotlight the right the right place, there’s another wonderful uh thing in klezmer, which is called doina. Okay and doing is the sort of the equivalent of the taxi from turkish music, which is a free kind of improvisation.
Basically, the only um opportunity, one of the only opportunities for classical musicians to improvise altogether. It’S a pre, it’s a free model, improvisation, meaning that usually there isn’t any time behind it’s just a drone and you just um juggle around between different modes, really coloring, each mode pointing out the nice colors and but it’s within a cert. Sorry, i think you’re getting there about rules or not rules or yeah, yeah and then, and so so what’s interesting is that uh when you listen to enough uh joiners to enough uh examples you realize like like when you listen to enough, you know bebop, it’s always The same i go back to that that there is a language and they’re all using the same language, okay, the same voice and so for the donut it’s much simpler and i really narrowed it down and i’m i to to teach them. I give them words. I give them little phrases in each uh for each degree for each part of the donor i saw i show them how to go to the next place, how to modulate what to do once you’re modulated and how to come back, and so they have like it’s.
Like a puzzle, they can juggle around with the with given blocks and so little by little it becomes more and more natural and they can do it by themselves without uh, obviously without reading the music and without having to to um, to redo or to juggle what I gave them but to just come up with their own thing and if you compare to jazz, is there a basic repertoire of so and so many standards that you have to know until you have some repertoire, you can go out and play weddings or whatever you Do or concerts yeah, i think so i think obviously there’s there’s the core repertoire that you need to to know depending on what you want to do with it. I must say that i i don’t play with i. I played some weddings when i was younger in order to you know to make a living a little bit. But if you put me today in a wedding situation with a with a very well-trained wedding band, i don’t think i will be familiar with a lot of the repertoire. Somehow the course of my life.
Whenever i played klezmer, i made it um i took it. I took a turn with it. I i never always i never really played for a living in a professional situation, uh the good old klezmer. I listened to a lot so like jazz. They are the the the masters you know, the charlie parker, solid state and so forth of the klezmer.
You must you, one must be familiar with the recordings to the to the smallest detail, and today there are software’s with which you can take a recording and slow. It down so you can really break down the way, the ornaments and copy it and then little by little speed it up again, and i think it’s really important um. It’S like like uh checking out the way sony’s tito stan gets articulate that’s how they swing. It’S the articulation, that’s that that makes a difference and until you really get it, can you zoom in on those things yeah yeah um. So you need to listen to all the great old recordings and we’re lucky to have them because it’s it’s uh.
You know all these uh eastern european immigrants came to a lot of them, came to new york in the 20s of the previous century and and they recorded all their music. It’S all documented in in a pretty good uh quality and then, in terms of repertoire, you obviously you need to know the different genres. There are the fast dancers, the slow dancers, the three meter dances. The repertoire is enormous. Surprisingly enough, it’s enormous hundreds of songs.
Right. Yes, hundreds of songs, and also i mean there are songs that are dances and there are songs that come from prayers, but there’s also the whole repertoire of of the jewish theater that was flourishing in in new york at that time in the 30s and 40s that The jewish theater, the lower east side of new york, was the main thing not just for jews. Everyone went to see those those those shows and there’s tons of music. That came out of that that that place, and even you know, benny goodman had his share because the the the famous uh, when the angel sings you know that do that yeah yeah, that’s a classmate. Let’S see that’s a classmate there we go and in every recording, benny griffin couldn’t play klezmer, so in every recording he took uh this trumpet player by the name of ziggy elman, who could swing and play klezmer so uh.
So it’s very interesting yeah i didn’t know and the angel thing yeah with with vocals right. I it’s with uh yeah and there are recordings with vocals with uh, with uh tilson thomas thinking, i think and uh. But let’s say you’re playing a classmate concert. Uh. Is it like, you have to make a set list like one ballad, one up tempo to have kind of yeah?
If you make a concert you you need to have it work like any concert, you need to keep the tension and have a nice and slow one. Yeah yeah um, my my current project is uh is a tribute to one of the greatest klezmer players by the name of dave terrace. If you don’t know, dave, terrace go ahead and listen to dave taras, because first of all he was a wonderful clarinetist and he he wrote some great tunes. But the other uh wonderful thing about him is that when he was living in new york, he came from ukraine and and found himself in new york working, and he was one of the first ones that was open to the culture and the thing that was famous. That was popular at the time was swing, so he’s one of the first ones to combine klezmer with swing.
He was working with a great musician by the name of sam musicker, who was the saxophonist of jane krupa, the drummer and sam musical made amazing arrangements for him and and some of those albums. If you don’t hear you hear just the band, you you easily think that it’s benny goodman and then dave taras comes in and he’s he’s playing his classmates. So it’s a nice mixture of of klezmer and swing. So what i do recently, i i joined up with uh with the dixieland band. I just wanted to say yeah, that’s that’s the thing i wanted to talk about.
That’S the thing you’re talking about right now: yes, exactly so uh, so we i took, i took a bunch of his tunes and we arranged them um to a dixieland style. So we have a banjo and we have a trombone and trumpet and another clarinet. So we have two clarinetists, my colleagues, kobe salomon, which is the who’s, a great swing player, he’s a jazz player and so there’s always back-to-back uh, the the klezmer in the swing – and i just love it actually, next uh tuesday, we have a show here in israel. That’S going to be live streamed, so once i have the once, i have the link i’ll i’ll, send it please yeah, let us know yeah, it would be great yeah, and what about you’re playing? I saw you playing classical repertoire.
Is there also i didn’t find? Is there also a niche to to let some klezmer slip in or or some it depends on, the musical director of where i’m playing, but some of them are adventurous enough, and so they allow me to do it. My very dear colleague, david grey summer he’s a pianist and a conductor and he in the past uh i’d, say seven years or so he runs his own chamber orchestra in geneva and he himself is a very adventurous musician, so uh. So i, when i play with him, it’s we’re always combining crazy things, so it it can be a mozzarella concerto back to back with uh with the klezmer brand new concerto. So a composer who wrote concerto specifically this one was a concerto for clarinet mandolin, an orchestra and we played it with with avi avital, the mandolin player and any other klezmer tune.
So that’s mozart with jewish, music or uh. We created an incredible program. Actually that combines check this out. Baroque music with balkan music sounds challenging too yeah yeah, so so uh as a baroque, so the orchestra plays the baroque pieces and in between i play music from the balkans, and i also play in this program. Um concerto for oboe of telemann, so that’s my part in the baroque play and we finished it up with the klezmer medley, so so yeah it can.
It can. Work would like to attend yeah. It’S not nothing boring in it, yeah! No! No!
It’S fascinating! It’S fascinating and you know for for me, it’s uh yeah, it’s great to be able to play all the things. I love not just one thing that i love. Yes, but it depends. There are some music directors that they don’t.
You know you want to play play vaper, it’s good enough! That’S enough! Okay! Fine! It’S fine!
It’S fine and did you notice uh, like audience wise, the exception or or the the surprise or or i mean if i mean i think it’s fast. If you have so much variety in one at one night, uh going from one style to another yeah, what else love it? I think i think my my theory i mean my my joker card you know is: is my ability with klezmer, because i can play a recital with the craziest most difficult contemporary music repertoire, the most unfriendly repertoire and as an encore at the end of it? I will play a little classmate show piece and the audience will be on his feet. Standing ovation like they will forgive me for everything else.
I did during that concert. Tension tension, tension, the release exactly exactly and uh it’s working all every time, and especially with klezmer music. You know i played klezmer for audiences in in um in the east. You know in uh in taiwan. I think they’ve, never not that they’ve never heard klezmer music before, but some of them didn’t even know that there’s a country by the name of israel and and they were they were so caught into this music – they loved it and uh.
You know because it’s it’s there’s something something human about this music, something simple yet very, very soulful about this music and that’s the essence of us human beings. You know we’re simple and we like to to have our heart touched yes beautifully when it’s when it’s played at its best, like i like the singing quality, so much like yeah, i i remember i once heard kyora in zurich. I don’t know 20 years ago or something, but this was uh. Just the singing quality was beautiful in it that that concert hall really touches every everyone. I would say, of course, yeah because because that’s that’s the music and that’s him as well he’s he’s one of his own one of a kind he’s one of a kind i find i mean.
I know that there are a lot of klezmer officials. There are a lot of chasm specialists that don’t really appreciate what he’s doing, because he’s not playing klezmer in a traditional way. But i don’t care because i find it to be so beautiful that it doesn’t. It doesn’t matter whether he’s ornamenting like the old guys or not. It doesn’t matter even in that community.
There is frozen pros and cons like in everything. Of course, especially among jews. Come on [ Laughter ], you got ta have a for someone, someone has to be guilty right, yeah, that’s it, but he’s really special. Nobody plays like him, and i also don’t recommend my students to try and copy his playing. I i recommend them to copy all the old, the old guys, not him, both because it’s uh, it’s it’s, not traditional, and because it’s very difficult for me.
It’S it’s! It’S it’s natural because he’s the first thing i’ve ever heard, but if you try to learn that language, you shouldn’t try and learn it with his recordings. There are other, very, very good recordings of the you know the good old classmates from eastern europe yeah. I will go back now and listen to some. It’S really inspired me to to there’s a there’s, a youtube channel uh by the name of classical klezmer, okay with tons of recordings, some really really all that it’s almost difficult to to to hear.
But but some are great, with orchestras and and quartets and solos and tons of stuff, it’s very interesting yeah we’ll go there for sure yeah. Well, i hear the two children in the background. I think father is needed, uh well, but yes, they should be asleep. By now i see somebody has to check on. Thank you very much for sharing all that uh.
My pleasure, my pleasure, thank you for what you’re doing for inviting me thanks for inviting me, and i was checking out your your videos. You sound great thanks man. Thanks really great, i love it, i’m i’m all into jazz these days. Even if i you know, i teach classmates and everything and my practicing is jazz and i love it every minute of it. It’S it’s a universe for itself, right, yeah, yeah!
That’S what i’m saying so, maybe 20 years from now i’ll i’ll change, my profession i’ll, know something cool, i hope to stay in touch and uh thanks again, thanks again for for having this loose chat about whatever you’re up to great. Thank you my pleasure. Thanks a lot see you later bye,
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