The Klezmatics

The Klezmatics

The Klezmatics, circa 2005.

The Klezmatics, early 2000s line-up.
Background information
Genres Klezmer
Years active 1986 (1986)–present (present)
Members Matt Darriau, Frank London, Paul Morrissett, Lorin Sklamberg, Lisa Gutkin, David Licht, Richie Barshay
Past members David Krakauer, Margot Leverett, Kurt Bjorling,

The Klezmatics are an American klezmer music group based in New York City, who have achieved fame singing in several languages, most notably mixing older Yiddish tunes with other types of more contemporary music of differing origins. They have also recorded pieces in Aramaic and Bavarian.


Current members include composers Matt Darriau, alto saxophone, clarinet, and kaval, and Frank London, on trumpet and keys, Paul Morrissett playing bass and tsimbl cimbalom, vocalist Lorin Sklamberg on accordion and piano, Lisa Gutkin on violin and vocals, and David Licht or Richie Barshay on drums.

Past members include David Krakauer, Margot Leverett, Kurt Bjorling on the clarinet, Alicia Svigals on violin, and David Lindsay on bass. In addition, Boo Reiners, Susan McKeown, Joshua Nelson, Chava Alberstein, and Aaron Alexander have frequently collaborated with the band.


The group formed in New York's East Village in 1986. They have appeared numerous times on television, including on the PBS Great Performances series, with Itzhak Perlman.

The Klezmatics appeared live, in June 2003, in collaboration with the Jenaer Philharmonie of Jena, Germany. They have also participated in cross-cultural collaborations, notably with the Romani virtuoso Ferus Mustafov, Israeli singers Chava Alberstein and Ehud Banay, American singer Arlo Guthrie, and Moroccan musicians The Master Musicians of Jajouka.

In Berlin, they worked with poet Allen Ginsberg. Trumpeter Frank London composed the score for Pilobolus Dance Theater's work, Davenen, which the band performed. The members come from different musical backgrounds. Drummer Richie Barshay plays jazz with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea. Violinist Lisa Gutkin came from a predominantly Celtic background before joining the band.

The Klezmatics' 20th anniversary concert took place at New York City's Town Hall on March 5, 2006. That event is included in the documentary chronicling the band's history and significance, The Klezmatics: On Holy Ground (2010).[1]

The Klezmatics at the 2013 world music Festival "Horizonte", Ehrenbreitstein Fortress, Koblenz


The Klezmatics have recorded for Rounder, Piranha, Xenophile, Flying Fish, and the now-defunct Jewish Music Group.

A recent album, Wonder Wheel, melds klezmer music with the lyrics of American folk icon Woody Guthrie. The album won a Grammy in the category of Best Contemporary World Music Album. Another album of Guthrie material, entitled Woody Guthrie's Happy Joyous Hanukkah, was released in August 2006. Guthrie's granddaughter, Sarah Lee Guthrie, has appeared with them.


See also


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