Oh doing everything that i can yeah some saw some of those videos that you did. Oh yeah uh i mean the the one main show. You know oh yeah. Well, you know whatever you can keep your mind occupied so um. When did you play the clarinet?
This was when uh. No, it was not my first instrument. Um, let’s see um piano was my first instrument um, but i was playing uh saxophone as a younger kid and then um. I got into klezmer music around 14 years old and uh. I went to a master class at tonic in new york city, the old venue in the lower east side uh.
They used to have this klezmer um uh series on sundays, that was curated by david, krakauer and and david gave a master class there uh. This was probably around 1996 or something 1997 and uh. He was like you should play the clarinet, so i went out and i bought a clarinet yeah. Is that club still around tonic? No, it closed down, probably about gosh, probably more than 10 years ago, now um, but it was uh.
It was really the you know. One of the one of the hubs for all good things in terms of downtown music and uh was pretty uh pretty big. For for uh, you know the whole downtown scene, including the klezmer scene of new york city. At the time, yeah sounds like a great thing like with clinics and master classes and concerts and yeah. I don’t know how much they did in the way of other clinics and master classes.
I know for this series uh, they kind of just gave david the reigns and he could he could uh do with it, what he wanted, which was really cool because he had concerts regularly but uh. Also, there was a couple of teenagers. You know like me at the time who he would every once in a while. He would give us a spot, you know, and it was super cool. We would get to play at this venue uh as part of the series – and we were you know, 16 years old or something it was uh, and then he would also do these uh.
These uh, these master classes as well, so it was pretty great yeah and what was your musical orientation before that when you played a saxophone? Where did you come from uh? You know general. I was a general saxophonist as a kid you know i played. I started.
Studying jazz a bit, you know, and i was playing in the school band and stuff uh. You know i i was uh. I mostly just like to kind of make music on my own at that point uh whatever whatever came about, but i guess i was studying some jazz. You know i i was uh, but it was early on enough that i you know i was playing in some different jazz bands and stuff in in long island, where i, where i grew up and uh, but uh yeah things got serious. Once i came to klezmer music jewish background, jewish family yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, pretty mainstream jewish backgrounds, uh didn’t didn’t, hear a whole, a whole bunch of klezmer music growing up a little bit um, but um uh, but once i got into it the whole family was Getting into it so um, you know, so we heard more of it uh over the years, but uh you know it’s not it’s.
It’S um! The music itself is not part of mainstream jewishness. Still isn’t you know it probably won’t be um. So uh you kind of have to come to it or find your way there um. So i didn’t hear a ton of it growing up, but uh living in new york.
It was uh easy to access. What kind of clarinet do you play? I i saw some videos that i couldn’t um. Oh yeah couldn’t get it really yeah this one yeah, it’s the one that i play uh, it’s um, so i got this clarinet about uh. 13 years ago it’s um, it’s uh, built by a guy named steven fox who lives in toronto, and it’s a c clarinet with uh, with an extension yeah, three keys so down there yeah.
What kind of notes do you play there yeah so like the top joint? Is uh there we go there, we go top joint. Is normal, uh bottom joint. You have this. This extra rod over here and uh gets you down to a low d which you access by your gosh.
That’S not getting all the camera! You access by your uh, your thumb over here so um. I can play as low as uh it’s a b flat clarinet. This is that guy stephen fox who built it it’s his his kind of signature, design, um and uh. I really like it uh it’s!
It’S really nice, the low end of it is quite a bit uh bigger than uh than you would get on a normalcy clarinet. I think see clinton. I never well the guy, the older. You know the the folks who were playing klezmer music back in the day in eastern europe uh and when they came over to the states, were playing c clarinet. It was kind of a folkier folk year instrument at the time uh a lot of them most.
It transitioned pretty quickly even a guy like dave harris who came over and was playing on c clarinet by the 1930s, was playing a b-flat um albert system but uh b-flat uh, and then all the folks following that uh we’re playing b-flat. But i think that for those of us who are there’s a whole bunch of clarinetists now in the music who kind of liked the idea of a c clarinet, just like you just didn’t – want to transpose right yeah, that’s what it is yeah and also we don’t Like the transpose, that’s what everyone says, oh it must be better for reading like as if i re i mean you played my heart everything. I saw that well a lot yeah i mean you know i do reading too, but it’s not as if that never played a part in the. Why c clarinet was interesting to me um and in fact it really was just that this guy’s clarinet was interesting to me. Um, my pal kurt burling out in chicago a great clarinet player.
He was playing an earlier model of this clarinet and i just fell in love with it, so i want to play that who had really never had considered playing a c clarinet before that there was nothing more to it other than i just really liked liked. That model did guys like uh brown, vine and uh epstein brothers, those guys they played a c clarinet or brand line did yeah brand mine played c clarinet throughout epstein’s no uh max epstein played a standard b flat bomb, clarinet, um and uh any of the pretty Much any of the uh american-born guys um pretty much any of the american-born guys played not only uh, b flat clarinets but generally played bone system uh, but the europeans uh came over brand mine. You know stuck with c clarinet. Terrace start at c moved over to b flat, but on albert’s system, i’m not sure about beckerman uh, i’m not sure if beckerman played an albert or um or a bomb uh, but his recordings sound, pretty b flatty to me so uh pretty sure he b5. I’M interesting yeah choice, instrument yeah, so once you got that input, you kind of navigated, totally into class more and they can that way of playing.
That was like new to you up to that point. Well, at that point, yeah uh! At that point, what was um so i came to it. You know, as a teenager uh. What was cool was that um to it, when i did, there was still a generation of uh of guys who had played it uh back in the 40s um and at that time, in the 50s uh who were still around and were accessible for teaching and stuff Uh they were pretty old at the time, but my first teacher was a guy named sid beckerman.
His father was slumpkin beckerman, the great clarinet player, so it felt like i really uh was able to get a really good link like to be able to study with that generation of guys, uh um, and then there was a few more following that uh paul pincus Uh and how he leads danny rubinstein and uh ray musica ray music are still around he’s 94 living in in long island. New york he’s still playing clarinet sounding great um, and his brother was sam muzeker uh, who played uh played with the uh gene cooper, orchestra, uh, so his older brother, so um, but anyway i came in at that time and i uh was really fortunate that i Got to learn from um learn from folks who had been, you know who were kind of part of the link and uh you know were were from were were from that time. You know and uh it was uh. It was really great for me, um, and you know a lot of folks following me, who came in just a few years later. Their similar age to me came in later, didn’t get that opportunity and they still learned to play the music great, but i think it was very good to have both the uh musical teaching and the cultural uh experience all together.
It was really you mentioned. You came, you played also a bit jazz or all kinds of music up to that point. So i i wanted to know like when we’re talking about embellishing melodies and you all already improvised before. Maybe a bit was, was it kind of something you can compare with? Well, i mean remember: i was 14, so uh how serious i was doing it at the time.
Uh is, is you know questionable, um, but uh, but um? I i always uh. I think that, within the canon of cl within the tradition of klezmer clarinet of klezmer music, classical musicians are improvisers. You know uh, that’s that’s the nature of the music um. Don byron had an interesting way of putting it in an interview from probably quite quite some time ago, uh, probably in the 80s or 90s.
He was interviewed about some interview with klezmer and i thought it was really insightful that he said uh. He he considered at the time – and i don’t know i’ve never actually talked with him about about any of this stuff one-on-one, but um uh. He was kind of talking about how, like all music, has some amount of improvisation. You know whether it’s you know in a in a in a free-form setting where things are where you have a lot more space or it’s in uh, a classical setting where it’s up just about very small uh. You know small amounts of it uh, so klezmer is somewhere in the middle.
You know uh, but there’s a bot. It’S like it’s like you have this box and you get to fill it up. You know uh, so a guy like brand mine who you brought up before you know. If you listen to his recordings now his recordings. Are you know three minutes long, each you know uh.
So that’s all we have to judge by, but every every time he would play a phrase. It was different, you know and uh, and he was not a studio musician like some of the guys who came, came came on a little later, so um. You have to assume that, like you know, he didn’t enter the recording booth thinking about what he how he was going to play it or what he was going to play it. It’S just what came out so uh, i think as an improviser, i’m probably i’m more uh. That was more uh, that’s more, where i’m coming from than uh necessarily from the jazz angle.
But that said, i’m a new york, musician and uh and you know in new york uh you take everything in and the um, the uh, the jazz scene or the downtown music music scene. It’S so um. The scope of it is so wide that uh, you end up incorporating lots of different ways of improvising from all over uh, so uh. I think that it plays a very big part in it and when i’m, when i’m playing i’m i’m improvising um now it’s the form that the improvisation takes is uh. You know it’s about embellishment uh, but sometimes it’s about things just like ornaments.
How am i going to treat a certain note or a certain note pattern, and then sometimes it’s about okay, let’s deconstruct reconstruct the melody, letting your improvisations, you know um. I think that there’s room for it all right rules like are there some some strict klezmer rules like don’t do that on a whatever? I think that the strictest klezmer rule is make sure you sound good. You know like. Like i mean i.
I think that the the rules are slightly more um, there’s a there’s, no rules, um kind of, but there’s a lot of uh tradition and there’s a lot of tendencies. Uh. I think that once you um, once your sound and your um style, is in a certain area, you realize what the how much, what kind of space you could fill it in with um and uh. So it’s like once i felt comfortable within the zone that i play in. I can you know it’s kind of seems like uh, the it’s pretty endless.
You know it’s there’s not too many restrictions. However, if you’re coming to it from an outsider, an outsider’s uh, you know if you’re coming from another style of music – and you want to enter through through this improvisatory way, it’s probably a bit tougher to to kind of um. It’S just interesting, like there was a really great musician in new york uh, who i happened to run into um, uh recently and um, not a classical musician. He is like a improviser. You know plays a lot of uh uh, south asian music, whatever and uh.
He was interested in getting in you know, learning some more klezmer. He says. Maybe we could just improvise on it a little bit. I was like yeah. Well, that’s kind of not how you start.
You know you start by knowing a thousand tunes. If you know a thousand tunes, you’re gon na know exactly how to improvise within this music. You know, however, if you just come to it, it’s not like a thing where someone says: okay, here’s the form and you improvise over these chords and it’s it’s uh. It’S a little more uh. It takes.
It takes a bit of uh. You know marinating in the world to me like, like the jazz guys, they’re talking about 32 bars or the blues form 12 12 shares. Is there something uh similar in that genre of music um? Well, it depends. It depends where you look in the music, because uh there’s plenty what klezmer music is today and what it has been.
It’S pretty open-ended and you get a lot of klezmer musicians who both play the traditional a more in a more traditional way and expand upon it in different ways. You know when i came up in klezmer music in the 90s uh in new york city, guys like frank, london and david krakauer and and john zorn. Even you know like all these downtown new yorkers were really taking it in in in uh. You know in a in different in different ways and incorporated lots of uh lots. There was lots more room for improvisation in in that uh and that exploration from the source – and i consider that as part of the genre.
But if you’re going to look at more um, if you’re going to look at if you’re going to slightly step step back and look at it uh at the um, i guess the more uh traditional, which is a bad word. But i would say the source, the source style, a little more um, your improvisation. How you can go about improvisation is more limited. However, it’s not it’s like you have a smaller space to do it in, but you can still do it as much kind of so. For example, uh like i was saying before, if you have a tune um that has a melody.
If you have plenty of room to be able to embellish it using different ornaments certain ornaments, you know just to name a few there’s ornaments like trills and like phrasing ornaments, you know, and how you how you tie, notes together and whatever and and and different types Of uh different types of extended techniques that you use to make the instruments talk a little more there’s those kind of stuff, but then there’s also improvising on the melody in a way that still can can uh can work within the phrase. So if you have some melody that has a certain cadence that has a pattern you know um. You can then change that pattern to something else. You know like a linear type of improvisation that exists, so that’s within, for example, uh like a dance tune. That has a specific melody now, there’s other there’s other sub uh, there’s other uh types of of of of uh.
I guess sub-genre within the larger genre that have a lot more room for improvisation, there’s something called a doina, um or and called zetsune, which are these um these. These are these melodies with uh that are not over time, not over time, necessarily, but there’s i’ll come back to that. Traditionally they are over. You know it’s ribato and um, and and and of course i think that um that on the older recordings, they’re slightly more composed than they may have done them in person and uh. I think that in person when um, these melodies were played – and they didn’t have a three minute limit on the uh on the 78 record – they were recording to they.
There would be a lot more room for improvisation, so i think that there’s a mix of composition and improvisation there, but there you have uh. I wouldn’t say that the chord structure is necessarily agreed upon in advance, but there’s there’s a uh. You know a a number of different places. You can go uh from one from one chord to another chord and the uh and the uh. The the melody instruments will um will improvise the melody and then also what’s a really interesting part in there is uh.
Is the transition from the next chord, so the the melody needs to signify, and you have to hear what the melody instrument is implying in order to go to the right chord and you you still hear on old records where you know one chord instrument went to You know the piano goes to one chord and the trombone goes to another, and it takes a second for them to come together, but uh. So there are some there’s some uh sub-genres within the larger genre that have uh more room for something like that. Now. What was really cool is that starting in about the 50s or so – and there might be – there might be some examples earlier, but i’m thinking right now in the 50s, some of these uh musicians, like sam musicker and like dave terrace on their records, would play jonas Over time, so they’d have a band playing a groove and then they would there’s a couple of examples of this and they’re they’re they’re few and far between but uh uh. It doesn’t happen too regularly, but it is uh.
It was a cool exploration. You know uh sam musicker had his one foot in klezmer music, one foot in the jazz world, so he was. He was right on target to do something like that and uh. So it’s pretty cool when he did it. You know and uh.
But let’s say you play a jewish wedding yeah. Can you take a 10 minute solo or is it more strictly like? Do you play the song? I don’t i don’t. Can i i don’t think that you, you would consider it a 10 minute solo.
So if i’m playing a wedding and i’m leading a dance set depending on how big the band is like, if it’s just a four piece band, a rhythm section and me on clarinet, i’m going to be playing the majority of the melodies and in order to keep The to keep it interesting for me and to keep the music interesting, i’m going to constantly be improvising on those melodies, but the melody still exists. You know so you’re improvising around this melody, the kind of line of the melody you can still feel it within the improvisations. That’S not to say that you can’t veer from it more or less there’s times when you kind of. If this is the melody you might be just staying, you know like right right on the line, but then there’s times when you might veer off but you’ll come back to it, but it’s not the kind of thing too often where um you uh. You know.
However, there are related genres that involve more improvisation. You know so like when uh, you know often um there’ll be some middle eastern elements that can come into uh klezmer. It’S a bit. It’S a bit outside the uh, the simplified genre. You know, but it is definitely it happens all the time you know uh and within there’s a whole.
You know, obviously within within different middle eastern um, uh uh. You know styles, there’s there’s whole systems of improvisation that sometimes we incorporate a little bit um but uh. There’S there’s a yeah, it’s it’s! It’S interesting, i mean there’s. Also, the you know: it’s a big big discussion because, where uh, where the style comes from like a doyna or it’s there’s, there’s there’s things that are related that have a a really interesting, uh improvisational structure that i’m not i’m not necessarily um the person to necessarily Talk about it too much, but within cantorial, music within jewish cantorial, music um, especially going back a bit.
There’S this whole system of how you get from one place to another um. You know tetrachordal uh movement and uh improvising in certain using certain modes in order to reach other modes and where you’re building up which to me is very similar to like macabre like turkish macaum, and that’s that and different arabic styles of improvisation and so um. And the fact that there are those similarities is really interesting to me. Uh. I think that there’s there’s common roots there yeah.
Can you talk a bit about your other projects? I mean other projects. Other bands, for example. I heard something beautiful with a i think. Pakistani singer, yeah, music, somehow but different different routes, yeah so yeah yeah, so that that’s a bangasha who’s, a singer from uh pakistan, uh from lahore and uh.
We met probably eight years back nine years ago, uh playing. We ended up playing a concert together in washington dc uh, where i was the guests with she was coming over to play at the uh embassy room and uh. We enjoyed it a lot, so we uh, we started making a lot of music together and uh, and you know we explored some cultural similarities within certain parts of the music. I think that something that um we were both uh. She sings a lot of music.
That is kind of fringe folk music, in a similar way. That klezmer is to uh. You know within jewish culture. A lot of the stuff she was exploring at the time was um was similar over there, and so we were both just kind of the idea of playing these uh semi, for i wouldn’t call it a forgotten culture, but a sort of fringe culture, music, but um And then we started writing writing a lot of music together and it was just uh. It’S been a real real joy to do.
Um uh, there’s uh. There is musical there’s a musical languages from that part of um from from that part of the world, especially within pakistan. Uh i mean i’d heard a lot of pakistani music before, but i think that i’d heard a lot of the stuff that other people had heard. I hadn’t heard like balochi music. I had never heard bilochae music before and that just blew my mind and then also there was it’s.
It’S a really uh musically, diverse country, the stuff that you’ll hear all the way up north is so different than the stuff that you would hear all the way down south. That’S just it’s! It’S crazy to think that they’re from the same place, um so really rich stuff to dig from. So when we were writing when we were writing music together, you know it’s like taking stuff from her cultures, taking stuff from my culture, putting it together and um, and it’s been really really rewarding, uh and uh and something i wouldn’t have seen coming. You know, but it’s been great, is that the band with oot and violin – or am i mistaken, yeah yeah uh, so uh there’s a guitarist who doubles on oot um uh morgan as the band kind of developed it was.
There was less ud uh, that’s yoshi fructor, who lives in brooklyn and uh. The violinist is a turkish violinist named elim bashalda and she actually moved recently from brooklyn out to la but uh. Someone who i went to the new england conservatory with in boston she’s. A great musician, so we were trying to take these different. You know the idea was that zave would come over to the states and we would kind of put together this very brooklyn band.
You know with these different sounds that we know would work. You know as musicians who i’ve all worked with, but uh you know involving, like the turkish violin, really was like one of the key elements to like how are we gon na tie it all together? You know, and it really was like uh. It’S been very interesting. It’S also been quite a while now uh, of course, this year, everyone’s on on hold but uh, we weren’t able to do a whole lot in the in the previous year either, but uh we’re hoping to get back to it once things kind of you know, return To normal, like if somebody says michael, is into world music, is that kind of offensive, or is that the right thing i mean, let’s say, for example, klezmer or like pakistani music, like?
Is it safe to say that you’re interested in folkloristic elements of a certain type of music or area? I mean you know it’s it’s i i you know if i’m not offended by you know so, i’m not offended by the term world music. However, i do find it interesting that uh there’s been a and i think it’s a good thing that there’s been a step away from using that term. Recently, in the last couple years, um i’ve always found it to be problematic, so uh, you know so. For example, the grammys changed that this year to global music, which i think is a step in the right direction, um.
But but but does it really matter because it’s like, if you say it and you’re and the reason you bring it up, is to have an interesting conversation, then so be it that’s great um. I think that i am a klezmer musician. That’S where i come from. I have a very specific you know: uh home base and anything else that and i’m interested in tons of different musics and the uh. The the project with zabe was uh such a strong calling that it it demanded.
I get into it more, but uh really it’s! It’S very clear where i come from, i think um. However, i’m as i said before, if you’re a new york musician, you kind of have to have very open ears and be and be up for, collaborating with just about anyone, and it’s makes being a musician rewarding and fun and uh, and you know it uh. The more i do in those other worlds, i feel the more i i’m enriched within the music that i’m gon na make. Even when i return to my to my world so yeah yeah, and can you give any advice of like how does your practicing or how did you?
How did your practicing change, maybe from before class, were like yeah into the transition like? Is there something special you’re doing that, maybe a classical musician is not necessarily yeah, probably i mean i think that um, so i think that it’s it’s great to be involved with something that is, for the most part, an oral tradition. You know that you learn from listening and you learn from from hearing and singing as opposed to necessarily learning from from uh written out uh notation uh, not that we don’t use written out notation. We use it all the time but um you know uh. The fact is is the way that you learn klezmer music, especially especially, if you’re a clarinetist uh we’re we’re fortunate as clarinetist, because there’s a lot of old recordings, as opposed to there’s other instruments that don’t have as many there’s far few fewer fiddle recordings than there Are clarinet recordings?
There’S even fewer accordion recordings? You know so it’s like. We have access to all of these great recordings from from just to name a few from from nuff tiller brand one and dave and dave terrace. You know recorded starting in the 20s through the 1970s, so it’s like. We have just this huge amount of um material to check out um and then yeah max epstein, as you said, sam musa, all these guys great recordings to learn from and that’s how you learn.
This music, you know you learn it from listening from micro analyzing it you know slowing it down. Um back when i started learning this music. The way you slowed it down was still uh with a a tape slower. You know and then right around that time there started to be software. That would come out.
That became available, the great slowdown or, i think, came out right around 2000 or something um, yeah and and and now now it’s you know multiple there’s many many ways to slow down recordings now: uh that are very easy and accessible. But that’s the key to learning this music is to listening to old recordings, slowing them down finding teachers. Who can do that in person for you and really figuring out? How does it all work um, because sometimes it’s really hard to tell it’s hard to tell uh listening to it, you know at at tempo um, but then also learning all the repertoire. It’S like those two things come together um.
I think that, as in terms of practicing the two things that have helped me the most over the years that i’ve that have really come to to, i think you know that i i feel like i’m. I might i i sound my best when um, when i’m practicing from old recordings, like if i decide okay, i haven’t never, never really micro analyzed that recording i’m going to slow that one down still do it um and really get into it. I’M like oh man. I feel great when i’m doing this. This is this is really helps me as a player.
Also writing uh. I found that that i i practice really well when i’m writing. So so it’s just uh. It’S like a vehicle to be able to um to work on on your plane through the music that you’re making and um, and i don’t know if this is true for everyone, not everyone’s a composer but uh as a composer. I i find that i’m on my game, both technically and um creatively when i’m writing a lot, so i don’t know if that’s if other people feel the same way but uh.
I think that it’s been very helpful for me. Some, like the jazz guys, are doing transcribing some solos or melodies and see how they embellished them. Yeah same thing, yeah yeah, i mean i uh. I’Ve been transcribing, you know transcription is the key to it. You know uh, you know how to that’s, how you get your your mind into the world that was at that time.
You know it’s uh, you know with jazz. Luckily, there’s a there’s a lot more musicians who play jazz really well than there are with klezmer music klezmer is a small world, so you can find a lot more uh. You can find mentors and teachers a bit easier and also there’s not as much of a broken chain where there was with klezmer music kind of you know after the second world war, it kind of really decrescendoed uh until the until the early 80s but um uh. You know old recordings are the key, i mean you know i just uh whenever someone is new to this style of music and they ask what should what’s. The first thing you should do is just bury yourself in old recordings and uh c-clarinet.
Does it sound? I mean: is there something something else to it, then to a b-flat clinic i mean you showed us the the d, the d note down there, but and but besides that it’s the same fingerings right, oh yeah, the fingerings are the same um. I think that there’s a uh there’s something different about the sound of a c clarinet um. It’S like it’s thinner in some areas which are um, it’s not as robust as it feels like it’s not as robust as a b flat clarinet, which, for some things would be not does not as desirable, but i think within klezmer music. It makes it a bit glidier and it makes it a bit uh just it’s hard to explain, but there’s something about the sound that i think is um you know is well.
I think that what’s nice about this clarinet is this. Clarinet is kind of uh kind of meets halfway, um uh, but um yeah. I don’t know that there’s uh, as i said, the reason i play c clarinet is because i play this c clarinet. It was never the idea to just to just play c clarinet like i have another one that i’m another c clarinet that i have no interest in playing uh. I mean it’s not a great horn, but i just like there’s nothing desirable for me to play it.
I play this because it’s a great horn and it’s and it just was – i was called to it. Yeah is there anything you would like to do in the future, like, for example, mixing certain instruments like to uh well to search for a unique sound as as always, musicians are driven like to find um within that klezmer yeah, i mean whether whether it’s instrumentation – i Don’T know i i i’ve um over the last good amount of years. I’Ve been very drawn to us. You know the thing about. Klezmer, music is a lot of times when, when it’s talked about, especially from with outside the small world that it exists in uh, it’s kind of made into this single genre thing where in fact, the uh you know if you listen to like early recordings of like Fiddle flute symbol recordings, you know from the early 1900s and you listened to an american klezmer band from new york city in the 1950s you’d, be hard-pressed to find all that many similarities.
There certainly are. You know i mean the a lot of the melodies and the and the the modes and the but like there’s so many differences like it actually is a pretty pretty uh wide genre. So there’s a lot of sounds to deal with um and there’s a lot of places to enter uh. For me, i um after years of of experimenting with what was you know, and i you know as a musician. You always want to be growing and and exploring new things.
Um. I’Ve found that the uh era of klezmer music of the mid-1950s has just been my kind of go-to. I always come back to it and uh. There was something about the sound and the fact that they were learning how to do all this hi-fi recording and just there were certain things to hear then – and i i can’t put my finger on it. But what i’ve been interested in is writing more kind of with that sound in mind, not necessarily writing in that style.
But writing with that sound. So, like you know, uh klezmer, music, really kind of took a big nap right around that period. You know starting in 1960, you didn’t hear a whole lot of it for uh. You know for about 20 years. It didn’t develop a whole lot, there wasn’t a whole lot of recordings and it was used certainly for functions, but um.
You know really didn’t. Have a creative development at that time, but what if it had you know like? Where would it have gone? You know um uh, so i really do kind of like going back to that. The sound of that time and uh creating new stuff using that you know that world that atmosphere.
So i know that’s, that’s pretty uh, not very specific uh, but uh. I mean no plans playing with dj some closers. I’Ve done it. I i was on tour with so-called for 10 years. I don’t know if you know so-called in montreal, he’s uh he’s an emcee and he’s a great klezmer musician and he does all the sampling and it’s super cool and uh he’s a collab good good friend of mine.
I’Ve been collaborating with him for years, uh uh! So there’s always stuff to be done like that yeah i do. I ha. I don’t have a specific um, a specific thing in mind at the moment um but um, but i will say that i bought a talkbox recently. So, what’s that so you put the tube in your mouth and you uh and uh.
It’S like uh, you could rush. It’S like uh, see it’s on, stevie, wonder records and steely dan records and uh talk box yeah! You you get sound, you look it up. So we’ll see, if that that, if, if that turns into anything, that’ll be uh as close, you teach as well. Are you playing only yeah so um?
In fact, i i spent a lot of time um, i’m the artistic director of klez canada, which is a um which is a a workshop and festival that happens at the end of august and uh that i spent a lot of time working on that and then Also, i’m um one of the one of the co-directors of well one of the co-curators of the yiddish new york festival, which is starting tomorrow evening, uh for the next couple days, which has a big learning component to it. Uh so there’s concerts. But then there’s for both of those uh, both of those events is uh daytime. The daytimes are full of workshops of um, instrumental music, vocal, music, dance, music, uh uh a whole whole lot uh. You know language and cosmoside yeah and not just klezmer.
It’S like the whole kind of we expand like the whole. You know, there’s there’s yiddish language, there’s uh the arts, there’s the the culinary arts there’s the theater. You know we try to. We try because uh, it’s you know these. This.
This world needs uh kind of needs, a hub like needs hubs like this so uh, so we try to pack it all into one place so yeah. I do a good amount of teaching um and uh uh with that and putting together. The program is something that i spend a lot of time on so yeah culture, worker and that’s uh. I guess online these days, yeah so um in so uh, so yeah. So the this whole thing is uh is online uh, so um, you know i was on tour in europe at the beginning of march.
We had to cut it short and fly back and pretty soon we had decided that our august festival was going to be virtual and it was – and it was really it actually turned out to be really great, and we learned a lot about what people uh. What people can do online? You know it’s, it is, i mean. Obviously we all want to get back to in person, but uh there’s a lot you can accomplish. You know and uh there were some things that we found were speaking of transcriptions uh.
We found that we, i taught a transcription course at uh uh at class canada during the summer. I co-taught it with another great clarinetist out in um in berlin, this guy christian david who’s, one of my favorite klezmer clarinetists on the planet and um he’s also really into transcriptions like i am. We taught a transcription course which we found worked better in the online setting than it probably would have in person, because, with with screen sharing and being able to to take have em, you know all of our recordings right right at our fingertips. Uh. It worked really great and it was really nice to be able to have a course in something like that which we generally shy away from um at in-person events uh, because it’s a little hard to put together in that setting so yeah.
And what kind of people attend those uh camps from which angles? Are they coming from from the instruments or from all kinds of corners yeah? So a international which is great uh both when it’s in person and even more so when it was online um? I think that there’s um the there is a an international klezmer scene in yiddish, music community, that uh comes together at these times, so you get um uh. I think that you’re getting a lot of folks from from the states and from canada, but also from germany and france, western europe and then from all over really uh.
I think that there’s people who are new to the music who come, i think, there’s people who have been around it for decades. Come it’s a really nice hodgepodge of of folks um, it’s i know for me, uh. I know that i learned this stuff by going to events like this um. That was where i learned it, and so i know that these places that they work you know and that like having these deep immersion, even if it’s just for four or five days when you do a deep dive in and you block out the rest of the World which is harder to do these days but um it really, it really works. You know, and it’s it’s a really great.
I never went to a another type of music camp uh like that. I did go to new england conservatory. So that’s a university setting, but this this immersion, like five-day immersion type of thing. It really really gets people’s juices flowing and they they leave. They leave these events.
You know checking out more old recordings and working on their style and and developing the things that they they taught and bringing it back to their home communities. So i think it’s a great way of learning and and uh, and you get like this parallel thing of like learning the music learning, the techniques, uh learning the you know the physical things you have to learn and then also community building and when it’s those two Things together, you really uh there’s a lot that comes from that. Is it open to everybody, yeah, yeah, yeah and there’s both of these events. There’S scholar, there’s uh youth scholarships and there’s um all sorts of ways that we want people to accept for it to be accessible to people so yeah. It’S open and encouraged for everyone.
There’S family programs at all of them. Also, we’ve really tried to to beef. That up. Is that, like there’s, um uh is that we have. You know kids programs so like if people want to come and study, there’s also programs that they could bring their families to so uh.
We try to make it yeah, for example, if somebody is interested in i mean in the music in the religion, he can be an outsider entering just to learn more about whatever he wants to learn right: 100, yeah yeah and these events are not particularly um. I mean they’re cultural, so you know they’re, not they’re, not particularly uh. I guess um. You know it’s interesting. It’S like there’s so much stuff about jewishness.
That is, it deals with religion. It deals with secularism and that kind of all plays a part into the music. You know, but it doesn’t, but these these events are open to to everyone and, and anyone and uh you know, and the in this community is a very, very diverse community jewish non-jewish. You know from all over the place. It’S uh, it’s pretty amazing.
What the klezmer world has evolved into uh, it’s very it’s something! That’S very exciting and uh of uh. A lot of people are very, very happy to be part of it. So, yes, it is open to everyone, and and now since we’re here talking specifically clarinet stuff um, it’s a great clarinet music. You know it’s one of i mean i think it’s one of the.
Obviously, i think it is because i play it but uh, but i mean it’s, you know it’s the clarinet, it’s like it’s the most expressive instrument. There is or one of them, and i think it’s one of the great languages that speaks is uh music. So i would absolutely uh encourage anyone to check it out. I will take this as a final sentence of the interview. Great nice good good.
Please do yeah yeah. It was a pleasure talking to you. I appreciate it. Yeah, sharing your thoughts, everything and uh. Let me know if you’re coming to zurich or saint petersburg, that’s two places, i’m the most often and zurich and saint petersburg yeah.
Okay, i mean i’ve. I well we’ll see i mean i i was supposed to be in zurich in march, but i didn’t make it. It was cancelled before my uh. Well, that was at you know i had to leave before then so uh. Let me know i mean i, i know the places where you could play and yeah yeah i’ll i’ll.
Let you yeah i’ll, let you know uh for sure it’d be great to connect in person when that’s possible, so yeah, so uh have a lovely weekend and uh see you at another time hopefully sounds good thanks. So much for inviting me. This is really fun. Thanks to you, okay, hi, michael
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