web analytics
July 29, 2014 / 2 Av, 5774
Israel at War: Operation Protective Edge
 
 
News & Views
Sponsored Post
IDC Advocacy Room IDC Fights War on Another Front

Student Union opens ‘hasbara’ room in effort to fill public diplomacy vacuum.



Andy Statman: Klezmer Is Finished

Andy Statman no longer needs Klezmer music the way he used to.

Andy Statman no longer needs Klezmer music the way he used to.
Photo Credit: Promotional image

Andy Statman, one of the foremost Klezmer musicians in the world, knows that the time of Klezmer has passed.

“Each music has its point,” He explained over the phone while working at a Mandolin camp in California. “[Klezmer] is still alive, but in many ways it doesn’t really represent a living community. While it’s still alive and it’s great music and people enjoy it… It’s not a reflection of the time.”

At 62, Statman was the recipient of an NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music. As part of the fellowship, the nation’s highest recognition for traditional and folk art,  he will receive a one-time, $25,000 grant. He has been hailed by The New Yorker as an “American visionary” and by the New York Times as a “virtuoso.” His white shirt, beard and velvet yarmulkes also display the fact that Statman is an Orthodox Jew.

Statman grew up in Queens to a traditional, yet secular Jewish family from an unbroken chain of cantors going back to the 1700′s. His house was steeped in both vaudeville and Klezmer traditions. His cousin, Sammy Fein, originally Feinberg, a self-taught musician and composer, won two Academy Awards for Best Original Song. Statman taught himself guitar and banjo after his brother brought home a record of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs. A musical prodigy, in his teens he took up mandolin and became a well-known bluegrass musician.

After mastering saxophone and an extended foray into jazz in his mid-twenties, Statman felt the call of something else. He sought out master klezmer clarinetist Dave Terras. He says he became a “ben bayit,” a regular, at Terras’s house.

“There’s an incredible depth and spirituality to the music,” he said about Klezmer. “It connects you to the deepest part of yourself and to God. That’s what Judaism is about… In the old-time melodies, there’s, for lack of a better word, spiritual vitamins.”

Klezmer is the Eastern European musical tradition passed down from one generation to the next. (“It’s basically Chasidic music,” Statman said.) The exact history of the music was unknown to him, save for the fact that when Statman began playing Klezmer, it had almost been gone.

“A lot of where the music was played didn’t make it out,” he said. “Russia, Galicia, a lot of Chasidim. I think not only the Holocaust but there was more of an interest in preserving Judaism and the community. Music was not such a pressing concern.”

As the Klezmer revival began in the 1980’s and 90’s, Statman found himself more and more in demand, performing on records for the Grateful Dead and Bob Dylan.

“I didn’t intentionally start the revival, I was just doing it for myself to preserve the music,” Statman said. “I wasn’t reviving something, I just wanted to keep it alive. And the whole thing sort of blossomed.”

Paradoxically, as he became more Orthodox he felt less of a pull towards Klezmer music.

“The music became very much an expression of Judaism for me, and once I began observing the mitzvot I didn’t feel the need to play the music anymore.” Statman said.

Statman returned to Klezmer in the mid-90’s when he produced “Songs of our Fathers” with his mentor David Grisman, and “In the Fiddler’s House” with Itzhak Perlman. He, along with his two band members Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle, perform regularly at the Charles Street Synagogue. His most recent CD is Old Brooklyn.

Statman now lives in the Midwood section of Brooklyn with his wife. His grandsons and granddaughters attend religious schools. While musically inclined, none of them have seriously taken up an instrument.

“Given the schedules of yeshiva and Beis Yakov, there’s no real time to learn it well,” he explained. “If you really want to play music well, it’s a full-time commitment. I’m practicing six hours a day.”

He sees his becoming religious as a “continuation of a seven thousand year heritage that was momentarily broken.”

About the future of Klezmer, Statman said it wasn’t bittersweet.

“Like bluegrass [music], it’s from a time and place,” he said. “It changed and the music was moving on to become something else. That’s the way it is. Styles come and go. They reflect the lives and the people who are involved in them… Each day is new.”

About the Author: Michael Orbach is the Senior New York Correspondent for JewishPress.com. His work has appeared in the JTA, The Forward, The Jewish Week and Tablet. He was previously the editor-in-chief of the Jewish Star newspaper in Long Island. He is finishing up a novel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

Please use the Facebook Tab below to leave your comment:

2 Responses to “Andy Statman: Klezmer Is Finished”

  1. Kudos to a legend in Jewish Music. What a "kiddush Hashem"!

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Loading Facebook Comments ...
Loading Disqus Comments ...
Current Top Story
Some of the missile fire comes from launchers planted in cemeteries, mosques, schools and hospitals. This is an aerial photo of one such launch in Beit Lahiya earlier this week.
Sleepless in Rishon Lezion, IDF Attacks in Gaza Continue
Latest News Stories
Anti-Semiti, neo-Nazi graffiti in Rome's ancient Jewish quarter.

Global anti-Semitism is doing the ‘Gaza Strip’ and unveiling itself, no longer needing an excuse to hide.

Some of the missile fire comes from launchers planted in cemeteries, mosques, schools and hospitals. This is an aerial photo of one such launch in Beit Lahiya earlier this week.

While Israelis couldn’t sleep in Rishon Lezion, IDF pilots were busy making sure Gaza terrorists were awake Monday night as well.

Rami Levy in one of his supermarkets.

Without fanfare, supermarket magnate Rami Levy has been quietly unloading truckloads of food and basics at the homes of all the fallen soldiers…

05_04_51---Candle_web

After killing 5 IDF soldiers, Hamas terrorists tried to steal the soldier’s bodies.

Kerry’s performance panned by Israeli public, media, and even the PA. Why fury directed only at the Israeli government?

Netanyahu and IDF Chief of Staff Gantz announce Israel will not stop the war until all terror tunnels are destroyed.

This is probably the first time in my life I’ve seen an IDF barber. Who knew we even had them! (Notice he’s using an electric shaver!)

2:29am Multiple rocket sirens towards Tel Aviv-Yafo, Rishon l’Tzion, Bat Yam, Holon….

The IDF spokesman has released the names of the soldiers who were killed this evening.

Bibi said: “Death from above, death from below,” will not continue to threaten the people of Israel.

IDF soldiers killed five terrorists who attempted to infiltrate from Gaza Monday evening near Nahal Oz in Sha’ar HaNegev, foiling another attack.

Intelligence minister meets journalists in Jerusalem, compares Gaza to Judea and Samaria as proof that quiet begets quiet.

Another massive missile barrage made it clear Monday night Hamas has no interest in a cease fire.

Moslem Brotherhood considered enemy number one in Cairo; Gaza branch responds to slight by firing at Israel.

Hamas terrorists attacked their own people Monday, with short-fall rocket fire exploding at Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza.

A Hamas rocket attack on the Eshkol region has murdered numerous Israelis…

More Articles from Michael Orbach
f110414ns13

“Fourteen hours a day in yeshiva but [a student] doesn’t learn a single word of English, math, history, science, geography, music art, nothing, nothing, nothing.”

Illustration image

A high-number of Haredi women responded to the survey. Haredi women suffering from eating issues also face a particular set of challenges.

When a Reform summer camp in Mississippi invited an Orthodox summer camp for a Fourth of July celebration, the get-together became national Jewish news. The onslaught of publicity caught both camps off-guard. One camp director explained that in the deep South, Jewish camps offers a place where Jewish campers “get to be in the majority instead of the minority.”

If there’s any story inside the Jewish community that closely parallels the sexual abuse cover-up inside the Catholic Church, it’s the story of Avrohom Mondrowitz.

An Ultra-Orthodox man reading the Talmud on the subway from Underground NY Public Library. The photo blog is a project of acclaimed street photographer, Ourit Ben-Haim. In an interview, Ben-Haim said that when she takes a photograph of someone reading she sees “people who are contemplating description of new possibilities. In this way, every book […]

Jews are the least of Elmo’s problems. Four days after a man dressed in an Elmo suit was forcibly ejected from Central Park for spewing anti-Semitic propaganda, an article revealed his frightening past. “I hate those [women],” he told a news reporter in 1999.

It looks like someone went up to Charles Barron and slapped him. The former member of the City Council and the Black Panther party was handily defeated by Hakeem Jeffries for the newly redrawn 8th Congressional District. The new district is mainly African-American, with a significant percentage of Russian Jews and Hispanics. Jeffries won in a landslide with more than half the precincts reporting, taking 75 percent of the vote.

Andy Statman says the time of Klezmer has passed. Having just received the NEA National Heritage Fellowship in June for his work in bluegrass and Klezmer music, Statman admits Klezmer used to be his substitute for Jewish observance. Now that he is an Orthodox Jew, he no longer feels the need to play the music.

    Latest Poll

    Do you think the FAA ban on US flights to Israel is political?






    View Results

    Loading ... Loading ...

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/andy-statman-klezmer-is-finished/2012/06/26/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: