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Klezmer Kollectiv debut in London: Get ready to dance!

Published 8 January 2011

The Cardiff based klezmer band is having a gig at the Green Note in Camden next Thursday. The eight-piece instrumental combo plays a fresh, offbeat style of the Jewish folk music that traditionally buzzes on weddings and parties. Coming to see these guys is a bet for dancing, cheering and loads of fun.

Upbeat Balkan music and other folk European styles shape the repertoire of the Klezmer Kollectiv. This eight-piece instrumental ensemble has been busking on the streets of Cardiff for the last 18 months. The band is fond of klezmer – an Ashkenazic Jewish traditional folk music from Eastern Europe.

They are in London for a gig at the Green Note, Camden vegetarian restaurant, bar, and live music venue. The band’s debut is next Thursday, 13th January, at 9pm.

The Klezmer Kollectiv has an extensive background and popularity among the audience that spontaneously gather around their performances. YouTube has lots of videos of them playing on the streets where you can see people clapping and stomping along to the beat.

Adam Cross started up the band as he was interested in the unique style of klezmer music. A bass man and a guitarist joined him later. The meeting point was the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama where they studied both bachelors and masters degrees in music. Out of the blue, they ended up as an octet based on a clarinet, ‘cello, saxophone, trombone, guitar, accordion, bass and percussion.

A freshly folk style
Klezmer is a happy, cheerful and fast-style music played with acoustic instruments. It first appeared in Eastern Europe during the 19th century and the music is usually played at Jewish festivals, weddings and celebrations.

The Cardiff based band plays klezmer with a unique touch as they are young musicians willing to be creative with a music that let them do what they like.

“We don’t pretend to play the music in the way that it would have sounded in the traditional way, but having the spirit of it while playing with our own musical influences,” Adam Cross said.

Indeed, the octet is a set of instrument in a way that wouldn’t be played in the Jewish villages. Besides the traditional instruments, their line up includes a ‘cello and a Cuban cajon, which altogether makes the band unique.

Percussionist James Hulme studied Latin music in Cuba. He joined the band adding the cajon’s particular sound to it. Jacob Shaw is in the ‘cello and has a jazz influence, so he is more likely to try adventurous solos within the tunes. The funky heavy beat is partly due to trombonist Christopher Yorke Baker has a background in ska music. “We all bring our influences to the band, which makes it new and more fun to play,” Adam said.

Klezmer Kollectiv’s gig on Thursday will be a two 45-minute set. They all know the songs, the tunes, and the structure of the music by heart, so they don’t have a set list to follow – they just play what they feel for.

Adam Cross confirmed: “We are going to do songs we all know from busking and probably a couple of new songs, but it all comes to the spontaneity of the gig.”

Come to Camden next Thursday to engage in this unique, funny style yourself. Be ready for clapping, cheering and dance. Tickets are on sale for £7. The Green Note doors open at 7pm and the gig starts at 9pm. A sample of their songs can be listened at www.klezmerkollectiv.com

The picture in the article is courtesy and copyright of Klezmer Kollectiv.