Naftule Brandwein

The King of the Klezmer Clarinet

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Modern klezmer is unthinkable without clarinet terror Naftule Brandwein, who unleashed his prodigious but unschooled talent on New York City's professional Jewish musical community in the early 20th century. This exceptional collection of remastered 78 rpm sides mostly issued for the first time between 1922 and 1926 demonstrates the melodic intensity of Brandwein's improvisational style plus his trademarked weightless swoops. The sheer note density of his playing also amazes, plus the degree to which he dominates every one of these recordings. Some ascribe much of his success to grandstanding on-stage decked out in a neon sign or Uncle Sam attire. But listen to these tracks, then elsewhere to cover versions by the likes of the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band and even 3 Mustaphas 3, and note that the originals were so modern that these contemporary bands pay tribute with near note-for-note emulations. These are remarkable recordings.

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