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DAVE TARRAS: THE KLEZMER LEGACY

“Other performance models exist, but no musician who aspires to play klezmer music can ignore the Tarras legacy.” -Walter Zev Feldman

The commanding sounds of Dave Tarras’ clarinet playing are easily recognized by listeners of klezmer and Yiddish theatre music. Tarras’ musical career began in Podolia, Ukraine when he was nine years old and continued well into his eighties, when he served as a mentor some of the early protagonists of the klezmer revitalization. Two of Tarras’protégés, Andy Statman and Zev Feldman, collaborated with the Balkan Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Music and Dance) to present Tarras in a series of concerts and a recording funded by the National Endowment for the Arts. The first of these landmark concerts occurred on November 19, 1978 at Casa Galicia (now Webster Hall) in Manhattan and featured Yiddish folk singers Feigl Yudin and Ethel Raim, Statman and Feldman, and the Dave Tarras Trio. Ethnomusicologist Mark Slobin served as the academic advisor to the project. The concert hall was filled with over a thousand audience members and hundreds were turned away. For some, these concerts were a chance to hear the man who had been featured on hundreds of Yiddish recordings or may have performed for family simkhes, such as weddings. There was also a new generation of young musicians in the audience who remember that evening as a watershed moment for klezmer that continues to reverberate to this day.

The Center for Traditional Music and Dance is pleased to provide the rarely seen footage of the concert on November 19, 1978.  

Click here for footage of interviews of Dave Tarras.

Feigl Yudin:

 

Feigl Yudin moved to the United States at the age of 14 from Grodna (Grodno) Gubernia, now in Belarus. Her parents stayed behind in Europe, so upon arriving to New York City she was housed by landsleit (contacts from her hometown), who took care of her until she was able to support herself. She was a seamstress and learned most of her Yiddish songs while working in the factory.

4:54 "Vi s(h)en s'iz itster akh di pagode"
7:45 "Oy vey mame ikh fir a libe"
11:25 "Bay a taykhele akst a beymele"
13:41 "A kholem, a kholem, hot zikh mir gekholemt"
15:06 "Lomir beyde a libe shpiln"
18:30 "Sonyitchka na balkonye stoyala"

Ethel Raim:

 

Ethel Raim is a leading performer and teacher of the unaccompanied women’s Yiddish folksong tradition and is widely recognized for her expertise in both Yiddish and Balkan vocal traditions. She has had a distinguished career as a performer, workshop leader/singing teacher and recording artist for the Elektra/Nonesuch labels. Ethel is additionally the Co-Founder and Artistic Director of New York's Center for Traditional Music and Dance (CTMD), one of the nation's preeminent traditional arts organizations. In 1962 she co-founded and was musical director of the renowned Pennywhistlers who were among the first to bring traditional women’s singing traditions from the Balkans and East Europe to the folk music world. Formerly a research assistant to pioneering ethnomusicologist Alan Lomax, from 1965 to 1975 Ethel served as Music Editor of Sing Out! Magazine and additionally edited a number of important folksong collections. Ethel received the American Folklore Society’s Benjamin Botkin Award in 2012 in recognition of her career impact on the field of public sector folklore.

0:57 "Papir iz dokh vays"
3:31 "Mayn rue plats"

Andy Statman and Zev Feldman:

 

Andy Statman (clarinet and mandolin) and Zev Feldman (tsimbl) were young researchers at the time of this concert and critically involved in getting this concert together.

Exploring the roots of klezmer and American musics with improvised jazz, Andy Statman is universally acknowledged as one of the world’s most brilliant klezmer and bluegrass musicians. As an accomplished clarinetist and mandolin player, he has recorded numerous albums, from traditional klezmer and bluegrass to improvisations on niggunim, mystical melodies associated with Hasidic Judaism. A protege of klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, Statman received a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2012. He had only been playing clarinet for a short time before appearing in the November 1978 concert.

Walter Zev Feldman is a leading researcher in both Ottoman Turkish and Jewish music. He performs on the traditional klezmer dulcimer, the tsimbl, the Ottoman lute, the tanbur, and percussion in the Ottoman tradition. He performs internationally with his group Khevrisa and with the Alexander Fiterstein Trio. He is the author of numerous articles, the book Music of the Ottoman Court: Makam, Composition, and the Early Ottoman Instrumental Repertoire (VWB, 1996), as well as the upcoming book Klezmer: Music, History and Memory (Oxford University Press). Feldman teaches on the faculty of NYU in Abu Dhabi.

Statman and Feldman released their album "Jewish Klezmer Music" on Shanachie Records in 1979.

1:30 Bessarabian Jewish Dance
5:30 Tune from Bahkal, Moldavia
7:43 Doina from Naftule Brandwein
10:30 Table music from the Lepiyansky Family of St. Petersburg
12:45 Bessarabian Waltz from the playing of Petru Zigeuner
14:55 Bessarabian Tune
17:05 Sirba

Dave Tarras Trio:

 

Upon his arrival in what he calls "The Golden America" in 1921, Dave Tarras quickly became one of the most important musicians in the Jewish klezmer music scene and Yiddish theatre. His playing became the pinnacle of klezmer clarinet playing for the musicians of the klezmer "revival" or "revitalization".

The Dave Tarras Trio featured Dave Tarras (clarinet), Samuel Beckerman (accordion), and Max Goldberg (drums and voice). This concert was one of a series coordinated by the Balkan Arts Center (now the Center for Traditional Music and Dance) in 1978. The Balkan Arts Center also produced a CD in 1978 that features Tarras along with Beckerman and drummer Irving Graetz.

2:13 Doina
6:15 Gas Nign
7:42 Freilach
9:55 Dave talks
10:15 Medley of Jewish Theatre Songs
17:12 Dave introduces Sam Beckerman
17:40 Sam talks
18:25 “Ziguener Musik”
21:35 “Hungarian Dance #5”
23:35 “A Pastukhl’s Kholem”
30:20 “Rumania, Rumania”
33:50 Dave introduces Max Goldberg
34:35 "Oyfn veg shteyt a boym"
37:45 Rozinkes mit mandlen
40:25 "Oseh Shalom"
41:45 "Keshinever Shtikele"
45:30 Song?
47:30 Am Yisroel Chai
49:00 Encore
51:30 Dancing

Publicity poster for the November 19, 1978 event:

Dave Tarras Tribute Concert Program

 

Click here for footage of interviews of Dave Tarras.

Tarras Trio Photo Credit: Andy Statman
Webpage edited and created by Clara Byom, 2015.

 
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