A klezmer workshop at Crossroads will turn into a free-for-all.
Last Sunday, Michael Winograd's Klezmer Trio alternated between dance tunes, contemplative songs new settings of old Yiddish poems and experimental music, all within sets that Winograd prefers to term suites. The concept was refreshing, the playing virtuosic, the applause enthusiastic. Philly's master of subtle overtone trombone, Dan Blacksberg, joined his fellow New England Conservatory alum for the entire evening. Now he is offering a free introduction to klezmer for instrumentalists this Thursday evening (as in tonight, full info at the end of the piece).
Blacksberg says any one who "can get around on their instrument" is welcome. Dream instruments for a man plays an already rare-to-klezmer horn? "I think a harp would be incredible a lady in Chicago does it quite well. Typical klezmer instruments are drums, clarinet, trumpet, violin. What would be totally wild would be if a tasteful person showed up with a drum machine, as long as they can play it like an instrument." Blacksberg is no sissy. He wants to intro the basics of klezmer, just a couple of tunes and the style of ornamentation in the first half, take a break then jam on those tunes for the rest of the evening. You don't have to read music, but that skill won't hurt either.
Blacksberg grew up in Queen Village. His dad was a clarinetist, and he recalls there was a Klezmatics record in the house, "but after the first track I just didn't get it." During his time at Masterman High he considered himself a serious jazz and classical trombonist. The summer Blacksberg turned 18 he started reconsidering klezmer. Trying to sight read the elaborately transcribed dance tunes with his dad convinced him that nothing replaces hearing the tunes to make all those ornaments jump off the page for you.
Off to the New England Conservatory of Music where Blacksberg met Winograd who already had a klezmer band. "He told me to go to KlezKamp [a week of intense study in the Catskills right before New Years] and KlezCanada. It was fun. It felt really natural." Add to that the Jewish Ensemble at school and small wonder that all the stars of today's Klezmer revival have used young Blacksberg at one time or another.
So, why return to the scenes of his youth? "I knew I didn't want to stay in Boston and moving to New York probably meant taking a day job. Plus experimental music, Bowerbird was starting off. I'm a lucky guy. I barely play anything that doesn't excite me." And he gets to live within walking distance of the workshop at Calvary.
Tonight, Thursday, April 22, 7-10 p.m., Crossroads Music, Calvary Church, 48th and Baltimore, crossroadsconcerts.org. The promoters request that you email email@example.com if you plan to attend to they can have the room appropriately prepared.