HENRY SAPOZNIK SHOWED UP IN BERKELEY (California) in 1977, just in time to critique the pre-release test pressing of The Klezmorim's debut album East Side Wedding. The band never quite grokked Sapoznik, but I found him fascinating, hilarious, and intellectually stimulating. After Henry returned to Brooklyn (New York) and resumed efforts to start his own Yiddish band, he and I used to gab on the phone endlessly, obsessing about our remarkably coincident twin Holy Grails: women and klezmer music.
Sapoznik generously sent me dubs of old-time klezmer 78s from Library of Congress musicologist Richard Spottswood and from the YIVO Archives. I reciprocated with 78s from Martin Schwartz and music manuscripts from the Judah Magnes Museum, where I served as Archivist of Music and Performing Arts.
Through 1980 or so I'd crash at Henry's apartment in Sheepshead Bay whenever my band had a gig in New York. His unrelenting diet of Chinese food and orange juice fueled an aggressive intellect and manic sense of humor. We had big fun for a while. Regrettably, he drifted into another orbit when his group Kapelye got off the ground. Me, I never regarded our overlapping musical territory as a competitive arena; I knew the globe could accommodate multiple Yiddish bands.
Henry's service to klezmer music is vast. His researches, broadcasts, lectures, and writings have added momentum to the movement; KlezKamp, which he directs, has inspired and trained a large community of neo- or post-klezmer players. I cherish the hope that Henry — mercurial, enigmatic Henry — will some day forgive me for organizing the world's first klezmer revival band in California instead of New York, without even the benefit of a yeshiva education. Miss ya, bud.