Michael Winograd / Kosher Style

Album cover: much better than any of those old Dave Tarras covers.

Michael Winograd / Kosher Style, OUP001, 2019

CD and MP3s available from Bandcamp

There is a certain brassy, jazz-tinged American klezmer pioneered by Dave Tarras and honed to perfection by bands like the Epstein Brothers, and later,say, the Klezmer Conservatory Band. It is a glorious, pick-you-up, all-is-right-with-the-world simkhe (joyous) sound. It would have been my grandfather's klezmer had he not been so insistent on being "American." And, perhaps, had the Beatles not arrived on these shores, it would have been my parents (or my) klezmer. Happily, along came the klezmer revival and kids like Winograd grew up with klezmer as the soundtrack to their lives as though it were back during the prime Tarras era.

Cut a few years. It was just before the pandemic. Michael Winograd's band came to Boston and blew the lid off the backroom of the Burren with his new "Dave Tarras-inspired klezmer" band. Most of the veterans on this recording were there that night and it was glorious. This isn't new recordings of old standards. These are the new standards.

From the opening marker he lays down with "Kosher Style," to the closing "South Brooklyn Bulgars," this is music that manages to straddle two worlds: to be quintessentially American klezmer, and at the same time, to sound absolutely contemporary to Beyonce or the Roots. The music swings, from the silly "Online Polka" to the perfect movie soundtrack, "Theme from "David and Goliath" (can a Milken Archive recording be far behind?), to the wailing "Manhattan Beach Doina." It's also an homage to klezmerized Brooklyn, from "Scenes from a Kosher Restaurant" to "Dinner in Bay Ridge."

Most of the blame for this music is on Winograd. His fluid, virtuosic clarinet is one of this world's pleasures. But, as I said, he also has a wonderful crew, including revival veterans like Ken Maltz (Kapelye) and David Licht (Klezmatics) and Sanne Möricke (Sukke, Khupe). There are also lots of the folks Winograd grew up playing klezmer with (and/or studying at the New England Conservatory with) like trumpeter Ben Holmes, trombonist Dan Blacksberg, and pianist Carmen Staaf—all known to spend time in the jazz and/or avant garde worlds when not playing breathtakingly joyous klezmer.

But, I begin to repeat myself. You can check out your own copy on Bandcamp.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow, 20 December 2021

Personnel this recording:
Michael Winograd: clarinet, composer
Ben Holmes: trumpet
Daniel Blacksberg: trombone
Ken Maltz: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Zoe Christiansen: clarinet (3, 10)
Carmen Staaf: piano
Sanne Möricke: accordion
Jordan Sand: bass
David Licht: drums

Song Titles

  1. Kosher Style 2:11
  2. Bar Mitzvah Bulgar 3:19 Scenes from a Kosher Restaurant 3:22 International Hora 3:30 Dinner in Bay Ridge 3:33 The Wedding Sher 6:05 Online Polka 2:12 Brooklyn Pursuit 3:15 Manhattan Beach Doina 3:30 Theme from "David & Goliath" 04:06 Kiddish Club 1:33 It Pays to Buy the Best 4:17 South Brooklyn Bulgars 5:24

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