WHEN: Sunday, December 8, 3 p.m.
WHERE: Enlow Recital Hall, 215 North Ave., Hillside, on Kean University’s East Campus.
TICKETS: $40-$60 and can be purchased at the Kean Stage Box Office in Wilkins Theatre, 1000 Morris Ave., Union, on Kean University’s main campus, by phone at 908-737-7469 or online at keanstage.com
Since their emergence more than 30 years ago, the Klezmatics have raised the bar for this age-old, nearly forgotten art form and helped change the face of contemporary Yiddish culture. Although often called a “Jewish roots band,” the music is both traditional and progressive, incorporating jazz, folk, Latin, rock and even punk influences. It will appeal even to those who are not familiar with the genre.
The band has three original members—Lorin Sklamberg (lead vocals, accordion, guitar, piano), Frank London (trumpet, keyboards, vocals) and Paul Morrissett (bass, tsimbl, vocals)—along with longtime members Matt Darriau (kavel, clarinet, saxophone, vocals), Lisa Gutkin (violin, vocals) and Richie Barshay (percussion).
“Klezmer has everything you want ethnically, and yet it’s so intertwined with American culture,” said Morrissett. “We want to make sure that we are part of a living tradition, and living traditions change; they don’t stay in a pickled form.”
The songs embrace the band members’ political values, supporting issues such as gay rights, human rights and workers’ rights.
“From early on, we decided that if we sang songs, they would be ones we believed in,” said Sklamberg.
This Grammy Award-winning band has collaborated with a wide variety of artists including Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tony Kushner, folk singer Arlo Guthrie, beat poet Allen Ginsberg, choreographer Twyla Tharp, pop music icon Neil Sedaka and Israeli singer Chava Alberstein. They have performed sold-out concerts at Carnegie Hall as well as Washington D.C., Paris, London and Berlin and appeared on PBS’ Emmy Award-winning special, Great Performances: In the Fiddler’s House with violinist Itzhak Perlman.
The documentary, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground, was released in 2010. In response to the film, Time Out New York magazine proclaimed, “The Klezmatics aren’t just the best band in the klezmer vanguard; on a good night, they rank among the greatest bands on the planet.”