Yiddish & Klezmer

I actually discovered Klezmer through Irish music, if you can believe that. I was living in Belfast, playing Irish trad sessions with loads of fantastic musicians. One time, one of them said to me that he had heard some Jewish music called Klezmer over in Bristol. I was shocked - I had never heard of Klezmer.

I went out the next day and bought a CD of Klezmer - In the Fiddler's House with Itzhak Perlman and all the top Klezmorim in the USA - The Klezmatics, Andy Statman, The Klezmer Conservatory Band and Brave Old World.

I set about learning some of the tunes I heard and even got to play some in a band I was in called Bedouin. Looking back though, I think they sounded a bit Irish to be honest.

When I eventually returned to live in London several years later, one of the first things I did was to sign up with Klezmer classes through the Jewish Music Institute. Little did I know it was to change my life.

Through JMI I met lots and lots of Klezmer musicians and started off playing in a band with some of them.

I performed on vocals a couple of times with Shekoyokh which was great fun. Soon after I started a band with Emma Stiman. We called ourselves Nomadica and grew it to a 5 piece Olly Baldwin on Bass, Madeline Solomon on flute and Sulek Ruparell on Tabla. After 2 years of lots of fun and gigs including one at the Jazz Cafe, Nomadica came to an end when Clarinettist Emma went to live in Germany.

Meanwhile I had started playing with GhettoPlotz - a live house music featuring yours truely on violin, mandolin and vocals. That was a lot of fun and gigs were always totally chaotic.

But I soon discovered links between Klezmer, Yiddish music and Jazz, through the 1940s Yiddish swing era (eg Sheyn vi di Levone - As beautiful as the moon) and I set about exploring this with my new band Zing!

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