David Krakauer

A New Hot One

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It's hard to believe that a form of Jewish dance music that came out of Eastern Europe centuries ago is continuing to evolve in the United States in the 21st century. But that is exactly what is happening with klezmer thanks to David Krakauer and other leaders of the neo-klezmer movement. Recorded for Label Bleu (a French company) in 2000, A New Hot One finds the New York-based clarinetist continuing to put a modern spin on instrumental klezmer. Krakauer is a forward thinker; no one will mistake A New Hot One for a collection of klezmer recordings from the '20s. Klezmer is the foundation, and Krakauer successfully brings elements of jazz (including avant-garde jazz), rock, and funk to that foundation. The results are consistently fresh-sounding, whether Krakauer is playing original compositions or interpreting traditional pieces like "Siraba" or "The Russian Shers." And at the same time, this French release also has a very organic feel -- Krakauer's experimentation always sounds natural rather than forced. Nonetheless, there are some klezmer purists who insist that klezmer musicians shouldn't allow themselves to be influenced by jazz, rock, or funk elements, but lucky for listeners, Krakauer doesn't feel that way -- he realizes that one can be faithful to klezmer's history and still keep the genre moving forward. And besides, when a form of music has been around as long as klezmer, it's difficult to say what is and isn't "pure." Those who fancy themselves purists might consider '10s or '20s klezmer "pure," but was it as "pure" as the klezmer that was being performed in Eastern Europe in 1860? It's difficult to say because recording technology didn't exist in 1860. At any rate, A New Hot One is a rewarding example of what klezmer's forward-thinkers have to say in the 21st century.

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