The Klezmatics / אַפיקורסים Apikorsim (Heretics)

Nice type--includes Yiddish set correctly in relation to the English. Nice band photo.

The Klezmatics /
אַפיקורסים Apikorsim (Heretics), 2016
Not yet available from the band's website, but can be purchased or downloaded from and fine music purveyors, worldwide.

It has been a lot of years since we've heard a recording containing entirely new Klezmatics material—even more if you set aside special projects such as the Woody Guthrie Archive collaborations or their 25th anniversary party. From the opening swirls of "Der Geler Fink," followed by a slightly speeded up "Zol shoyn kumen di geulah" this is a celebration. The sound is occasionally dark; the words span life and love. The music vintage Klezmatics. It sounds good.

In keeping the sometimes darker theme of the recording, we have Chava Alberstein's setting of Zishe Landau's "Ver firt di ale shifn" (who guides the ships?). The song sinks in, in waves, as the listener reflects on lost children in too many places around the globe. Elsewhere on the album, we encounter not just old and new poems set to new music, but older songs, including some gathered in the last century by folklorists Ruth Rubin and Moishe Beregovski. Fittingly, the album closes with a quiet version of an American Yiddish theatre tune, "Mazltov," with which we wish not only ourselves, but the Klezmatics good mazl.

Although much of the new music on the recording is written by Frank London, there are notable new instrumentals by Lisa Gutkin and Matt Darriau, as well as the music to "Der Mames Shpigl" (My mother's mirror), also by Gutkin.

The recording's name, "Apikorsim" (heretics) seems to have many meanings. It is the name of the title track, a celebration of breaking the traditional Jewish tao (halakha) in a land far away that may exist only in a dream, or already, here. Sklamberg's words convey a dreamy pleasure. The title is also reflected in the epigram that opens the liner notes, "The heresy of one age becomes the orthodoxy of the next," from Helen Keller. The words to the song were written by a young Harvard instructor, Yuri Vedenyanpin (who also provided a Yiddish translation of a Catalan tolk tune for this recording) and are joined on this recording by a slightly older Yiddish writer, contemporary to the Klezmatics' generation, Michael Wex, whose "Shushan Purim" adds to the gaity of the recording. The generational meaning of Helen Keller's quote could easily be applied to the Klezmatics successfully breaking and remaking the idea of what Jewish music was a generation ago, now the model for better klezmer bands everyone and no longer sounding so heretical. Be that as it may, this is excellent new music, and it is a joy that the Klezmatics have persevered and continue to write, and to showcase Jewish music, new and old.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 7 May 2017.

Personnel this recording:
Frank London: trumpet, organ, alto horn, flugelhorn, harmonium, vocals
Lisa Gutkin: violin, viola, octave violin, vocals
Lorin Sklamberg: lead & background vocals, accordion, guitar, piano
Matt Darriau: alto sax, clarinet, bass clarinet, kaval, vocals
Paul Morrissett: basses, tsimbl, baritone horn, guitar, vocals
Richie Barshay: percussion, vocals


  1. Der geler fink—The yellow finch (music: Lisa Gutkin) 2:48
  2. Zol shoyn kumen di geule—May redemption come (words: Shmerke Kaczerginski; music: R. Abraham Isaac Kook; arr. Frank London) 4:41
  3. Der yokh—L'estaca (the Yoke) (orig. Catalog: Lluis Llach; Yiddish: Yuri Vedenyapin; arr. Klezmatics) 4:43
  4. Kermeshl in Ades—Party in Odessa (words: trad., collected by Ruth Rubin; music: trad., arr. Matt Darriau, Frank London, Lorin Sklamberg) 4:01
  5. Di nakht—Dark is the night (words: H. Leivick; music: Frank London) 3:46
  6. Apikorsim—Heretics (words: Yuri Vedenyapin; music: trad./F. London) 5:01
  7. Three-ring sirba (music: Matt Darriau) 3:41
  8. Vi lang?—How long? (words adapted from David Edelstadt; music: Frank London) 5:19
  9. Ver firt di ale shifn?—who guides the ships? (words: Zishe Landau; music: Chava Alberstein; arr. Lorin Sklamberg)5:07
  10. Shushan Purim (words: Michael Wex; music: Frank London) 3:43
  11. Green violin (music: Frank London) 3:17
  12. Der mames shpigl—My mother's mirror (words: Masha Shtuker-Paiuk; music: Lisa Gutkin) 3:07
  13. Tayer Yankele—Dear little Yankl (words: trad., collected by Moshe Beregovski & Menakhem Kipnis; music: trad., arr. Frank London) 5:57
  14. Shtetl M.O. (trad., as sung by Moishe Oysher; arr. Klezmatics) 5:02
  15. Mazltov (words: Boris Thomashefsky; music: Joseph Rumshinsky; arr. Frank London) 2:09

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