About The Kol Haruach Klezmer Band
& The New Klezmer Quintet
- Booked as 3 – 8 players
One band with two names and one set of top flight musicians building on one beloved musical tradition. Why two names? It depends on the venue we are playing. When we play private affairs, weddings and Bar Mitzvahs, we go by our traditional name, “The Kol Haruach Klezmer Band”. However, when we play public shows, concerts or galas, we go by our English name, “The New Klezmer Quintet”.
How It All Began
It all began with an impromptu performance at a party: In July of 2000 at the Lansing, Michigan Jazz festival Brian Choper, an internationally known drummer, was asked at a moments notice, to sit in for a Go-go bands drummer who fell ill on stage. Brian had never played Go-go music before- the performance was for 40,000 people! Because he did such a great job the volunteers invited him to their “after” party for the Festival. Brian asked if he could bring a few friends. He brought 12 musicians with him.
The hosting hotel had provided a DJ to set the mood for the party. Brian approached the management with the idea of having his group of musician friends play instead. If you fill a room with musicians they will want to play together. After some discussion, they agreed, and some instruments were brought up from the storage trucks. As they were unloading instruments, an unaware night manger tried to stop them from playing, claiming they would make too much noise for the other hotel guests. Short a few pieces they played anyway. Brian ended up with only a snare and a bass drum. Jazz, Rock, show tunes and Folk music were played. They played for hours, late into the night. It was a true jam session at the highest level. When it was all over, this band of players, feeling the chemistry while they played, decided they were interested in forming a band.
The next morning sleepy, but enthusiastic, they discussed the jam session of the night before over coffee. The players discovered they had enough chemistry to make a band really work. Brian was unsure about the logistics of this arrangement, as these players were from all over the country, not local to any one town. However, it was agreed that if Brian took the lead and organized the shows, everyone would commit to the dates.
And with that “The Kol Haruach Orchestra” came to be. The Kol Haruach Orchestra, soon after changed their name to The Kol Haruach Klezmer Band. Kol Haruach means “Voice of the Spirit”, the irrepressible spirit and verve of any party.
Growing With Our Music
Over the next year or so, the band played private affairs, all the while rehearsing to fine-tune their distinctive sound. Their sound was developing into a high level fusion of Klezmer and American jazz with Rock. The talent of the band was clear; the question was how to write or arrange the music to allow the players to shine . While they worked with Israeli, Klezmer, Jazz, Latin and Ladino music, they also wanted to experiment and compose their own repertoire. They began setting themselves apart from other bands by allowing band members to solo within the songs.
Kol Haruach released its’ first album in 2004, aptly named In the Beginning- Bereshit. It is a compilation of standards and new works written and arranged by the band. The album is typical of the band’s events and concerts, mixing improvisational jazz styling with Klezmer. Kol Haruach’s talents show best in its live shows so a second live recording was released in 2006, Kol Haruach – Live in Concert. This distinctive recording shows off the band’s Klezmer chops with Swing classics mixed in for a bit of fun. Both recordings were received with critical acclaim by critics and fans.
Introducing The New Klezmer Quintet
The band’s popularity blossomed after the release of this second album. With this popularity came inquiries from public venues to do concerts. However, there was some concern by booking agents over the name of the band. Would the masses remember the name “Kol Haruach Klezmer Band”. To simplify matters for concert venues, the band came up with a new, distinctive American name, specifically to perform as a concert band, and “The New Klezmer Quintet” was born.
As one example of their success, the band, playing as The New Klezmer Quintet, performed three sold out concerts at Strathmore Hall and Strathmore Mansion in December 2007. Some 500 patrons were turned away. The band realized that their music, billed as the New Klezmer Quintet, was reaching mainstream America, an audience beyond their typical Klezmer fanbase.
From this tour, the band recorded a live album, entitled, “The New Klezmer Quintet – Unexpected Joy”.
This compilation includes an energetic mix of Klezmer, Ladino, Swing and Jazz. Tracks from this popular album have been placed on rotation on many radio stations and have been simulcast on NPR.
Two Bands, Two Different Performance Venues
The New Klezmer Quintet continues to innovate, writing works for the stage, while collaborating with guest musicians, singers and songwriters. The New Klezmer Quintet is a project, not just an ensemble. New compositions are in rehearsal and production all the time. Each performance is a separate experience from the previous, each tailored for the occasion of the show. One of the fundamental goals of this band is to create music for the stage that might not be appropriate to play for a party where the crowd wants to hear more familiar standards.
In contrast, the Kol Haruach band is oriented to the party scene, where rather than having a defined program, we play party music, get out and interact with the crowd, take requests from guests, and “party down”. Our job at the party is to get the crowd up and dancing.
Both bands have earned their reputation for their music and their entertainment value. Regardless of the event, these bands are proven to be engaging and entertaining, one for the party, the other for the concert. In either case, they will be shows to remember and will make you shine.