Redefining the edges of new Yiddish Music

bandUp in Boston, we just got to watch an astounding new band, Khevre, blow the house down. Comprised of (compromised by?) students from the New England Conservatory, including one the singers (Aoife O’Donovan) from my favorite bluegrass band, Wayfaring Strangers (the “Brave Old World” of bluegrass), this was intensely good. Bandleader Michael Winograd was amazing on clarinet. Maybe better. The drummer, Richie Barshay, was stellar. Hell, the whole band was amazing. (Part of the secret is the the entire rhythm section of the band is either from South America, or played there.)

The band played some Yiddish songs, bits of klezmer, some new compositions by Winograd, and mixed in lots of South American music and improvised wonderfully. The singer, clearly not a Yiddish-speaker (O’Donovan???!), gave an ethereal voice to old standards, and quite frequently I felt that the songs were transformed to nign – not inappropriate to the trance-like improvisation behind them.

Finally, for all the good things I have to say, I also have to say that the band is still growing. I feel like one of those old blues mavens who first heard Signe Anderson fronting the Jefferson Airplane singing “Me and My Chauffeur” realizing that I’m not listening to Memphis Minnie, but instead of complaining, hearing the new and timeliness of the music and knowing that this is just going to get better and more interesting over time.

The band is playing the Tonic in NYC on Sunday (1:30pm, 3pm). If you’re in town, I’d say that’s the place to be.

I’ll shut up now.

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