The Alexandria Kleztet,
Close Enough for Klezmer
(independent, 2007)

This CD comes close enough, as its title suggests, although it adds a lot of swing and jazz inflections. Only two tracks are listed as traditional, but many of them sound as if they were. The instrumentation (there are no vocals) is dominated by clarinet and violin, which often blend together with the melody line.

Electric bass and drums, not traditional klezmer instruments, also fit in unobtrusively to add subtle touches. "Bassist on the Roof" brings the instrument upfront with a bit of flash but without straying from a klezmer feel.

The tunes range from "Bashana Haba'a", a lively tune suitable for any wedding, to "Chorshat Ha'ekaliptus," a beautiful, pensive one like many of those in the klezmer canon.

The group consists of Seth Kibel, mostly on clarinet along with flute, sax and even accordion and ukulele. Scott Harlan plays bass and some guitar, and Tim Jarvis plays drums and percussion. Claire Cardon and Helen Hausmann play violin on alternate tracks, reflecting a change in personnel, while Sean Lane guests on piano on two tunes.

"Where There's a Will, There's a Waltz" has a jazz piano and electric bass solo that takes the group beyond klezmer for a bit. "Revenge of Untitled" also has a bit of a jazzy tenor solo in it. And I thought I heard a bit of a wah-wah petal on the violin on the latter.

On their third release, the Alexandria Kleztet shows they are among the best modern klezmer groups, not afraid to experiment but remaining true to the traditional sound and spirit of the music.

review by
Dave Howell

11 October 2008

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