The Klezmatics


The Klezmatics

The Klezmatics: (L-R): Frank London, Matt Darriau, Lisa Gutkin, Lorin Sklamberg, Paul Morrissett (by Joshua Kessler)
  • country:USA
  • region:Jewish
  • style(s):
    • Jazz
    • Klezmer
  • label:Piranha Records
  • type: Band, Composer/Songwriter
  • gender:male, female
  • instrumentation:instrumental, vocal

If they didn’t invent the new wave of klezmer that built up in the 1980s, they were certainly its biggest success! In The Klezmatics, with their versatile eclecticism and their steady rockin’ beat, klezmer made the leap from the shtetls of the East to the metropolitan clubs around the world for good.

It might have been on purpose or it might have been by chance. When the five founders of the Klezmatics, all recently newly arrived in Manhattan, got together through an ad in the Village Voice asking for musicians interested in forming a klezmer band, that musical style served its historical arch-purpose once again: as the music of the Jewish diaspora, connecting strangers in a new land! As was the way it always had done after making its way from the European shtetls to the international communities of the world.

The founding members of the band met in 1985, formed the group in 1986 and had their first rousing international success beyond their Manhattan scene at their one-week stand at Berlin’s Heimatklänge Festival in 1988. This short residency is where they also found their first label, Piranha Records, and recorded their debut album, Shvaygn=Toyt at public radio station Sender Freies Berlin.

Frank London and Lorin Sklamberg both had a history of digging for the roots of Yiddish music, playing the old tunes, keeping them alive. Of course, both always had a foot in the here-and-now, also playing all kinds of pop, rock and dance music. It all fell in place when at the Shvaygn=Toyt recording sessions, Piranha mastermind Christoph Borkowsky provided that little special kick to his newly-signed band that he felt were creating way below its potential. Frank London once recalled that igniting spark: “Christoph Borkowsky said to us: ‘You are young musicians from New York and play this music like in the old records. I don’t hear any contemporary New York in there. Why don’t you put more of yourselves in the music you do?’. This comment was a wonderful gift. A label gave us the possibility to do something with our music. We couldn’t decline such an opportunity. It was as if a box full of new toys had opened in front of our eyes. Everything goes back to that moment, when someone told us: just do it” (Jazzthetik).

The rest is history – of a band whose music is deeply steeped in Jewish spiritualism and Eastern European tradition while incorporating provocative themes such as social rights and anti-fundamentalism together with musical influences from and Arab to African, Balkan to gospel to punk. They are a band that, over the course of nearly 30 years, has released numerous albums of wild, provocative, reflective, and ecstatically danceable music, forever redefining and transcending traditional labels.

They had to go through quite a few line-up changes. They played Letterman, Conan O’Brien and Central Park SummerStage; backed Itzhak Perlman, Allen Ginsberg and Arlo Guthrie; sold out the Carnegie Hall twice…and so on and so forth. Oh, and were awarded a Grammy for Best Contemporary World Music Album, too.


"If you can hear this music and not see God, you are fucking blind!"

Robin Williams


Main Booking

Matt Greenhill
Folklore Productions International
phone: +1 310 451 07 67


RUN Productions
Tel: +33 549 591 010
Fax: +33 549 524 410

Benelux Territories

Wim Westerveld
PO BOX 1443
6501 BK Nijmegen - Holland
phone: +31(0)24 3226500
fax: +31(0)24 3222658

Germany, Austria & German Switzerland

The Red House Agency
Ariane Spiekermann
Wiesenstrasse 55
13357 Berlin
Tel: + 49 (0) 30 66763340
Fax: + 49 (0) 30 66763344

Central and Eastern Europe
Dariusz Startek
phone +48 91 42 37 712


Ballkan World Music Management
Olsi Sulymani
Phone: +39 0721 37 42 81
Mobile: +39 337 65 78 70

Spain & Portugal

Conciertos del Norte
Luis Manjeres

Line up

  • David Licht (drums, percussion, vocals)
  • Frank London (trumpet, cornet, alto horn, flugelhorn, piano, org)
  • Lisa Gutkin (violin, baritone violin, vocals)
  • Lorin Sklamberg (lead vocals, accordion, high-strung guitar, piano,)
  • Matt Darriau (clarinet, bass clarinet, alto sax, kaval, flutes, )
  • Paul Morrissett (electric and acoustic basses, piano, violin, harda)


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