BY 1987, THE EUROPEAN PRESS HAD RECOVERED from the initial shock of us; now The Klezmorim were established jazz headliners on an equal footing with Stephane Grappelli or the Dirty Dozen Brass Band. From our Parisian home-away-from-home, we'd rocket off to Amsterdam, Brussels, Berlin. Frantic schedules, high expectations: our tours ratcheted to a higher level of intensity.
When drummer Ken Bergmann got off the rollercoaster, clarinetist Goldberg recruited hipster pal Kenny Wollesen who, better than anybody, succeeded in blending a modern percussionist's drive and eclecticism with an insider's respect for the nineteenth-century musical vocabulary. At last we had the machinery in place to fuse traditional klezmer with radical new sounds.
The Klezmorim's 1987 concert playlist included two Benjamin Goldberg compositions ("Peggy's Rice Hill" and "Stick Out Head") and two Lev Liberman originals ("Diary of a Scoundrel" and "Mardi Gras in Minsk"). These blends of klezmer, bebop, minimalism, New Orleans jazz, and sci-fi film effects featured wild-card solo riffs and band jams that made European jazz festival audiences ecstatic.
Granting ourselves license to launch klezmer into the future enhanced our grasp of its Paleozoic origins. After years of effort, we finally achieved an authentic 1910 street-band sound based on the earliest known recordings of V. Belf's Ruminskiy Orkester. Talk about alien vibrations! These ancient klezmer sides sounded positively Martian — sufficiently weird to hold our interest and challenge our chops.
Musically this may well have been The Klezmorim's peak year. A tight ensemble of veteran players and young turks performing a century-wide repertoire of wonderful sounds for adoring, ear-savvy audiences... Why in hell didn't we record an album? Distracted by post-tour exhaustion and the need to find new management, we let the golden opportunity slip. One might say the Cosmic Kitten was unraveling the whole ball of yarn... The inside story continues in 1988... >>