Klezmer is essentially Jewish music originating in Eastern Europe, a celebratory music often played at weddings and parties – very much get-up-and-dance rather that sit still and listen to music. Although tracing its roots back centuries it was only as recently as the 1970s that its revival attracted a wider audience, not least in The Netherlands, although, oddly enough, klezmer music is rarely played in Israel.
Unmistakably Yiddish, klezmer is however a very broad church (if that’s the right word), accepting and utilizing influences of all kinds from jazz to Arab music as The Amsterdam Klezmer Band demonstrates with alacrity.
Their show Some Kind of Golem involved a lot of spoken word as members of the band took to the microphone with their personal evocative anecdotes (in Dutch), each of which culminated in another tune. To enhance the performance visually there were splendid projections of apposite illustrations by Martin Draax, plus a great deal of trouble was taken with the lighting so the concert was very satisfying to watch as well.
Amsterdam Klezmer Band has been around for twenty-five years but its music is never stagnant, they are constantly adding to and developing their repertoire. The line-up of the seven piece (only six yesterday as the Ukranian vocalist was sick) consisting of bass, accordion, trombone, alto sax, trumpet and clarinet could easily at times been that of an old trad/New Orleans jazz band with each instrumentalist taking turns for a solo. The band, I imagine, could be all things to all men.
Yesterday’s concert, on an improbably chosen Tuesday afternoon in a rather wet Delft was, compared with their usual gigs, a fairly laid-back affair in a conventional theatre but by the end the audience was on its feet clapping their hands in time with the rousing finale. If you haven’t seen the Amsterdam Klezmer Band I suggest you do. Their musical canvas is so broad there will certainly be something to resonate with everyone. Michael Hasted 1st November 2023