KlezmaFour – music, history and inspirations.

Modern Klezmer Band From Poland Embarks on N.American Tour Feb 27 – Mar 13, 2011

By Szymon Wozniczka 2/20/11

“We are very excited about this”- Wojtek Czaplinski’s tone of voice continued to convey that feeling as he further described his band from Poland and their preparations for the upcoming North American tour. “None of the five members of Klezmafour have ever traveled to the US or Canada. So just going there, and, on top of it, being able to play our music is something we could not have even dreamed about one year ago.”

Wojtek Czaplinski (clarinet player) and his brother, Andrzej Czaplinski (violin player) are the leaders of this instrumental Klezmer band from Poland. The two brothers started the band back in 1999, when they were still in their teens.

The Czaplinski brothers had grown up watching their parents regularly perform Klezmer music at a local Jewish restaurant in their home town of Lublin, Poland. Their father had discovered Klezmer music when performing in cruise ships that made stops in the USA. Parents’ band – Lubliner Klezmorim – followed established Klezmer bands in Poland, including Kroke, Jascha Lieberman Trio and The Cracow Klezmer Band. These esteemed bands were part of the growing revival of Klezmer music in Poland in the early 1990’s.
Reflecting on his childhood experiences Wojtek reminisced, “My brother and I saw people dance, laugh and have a good time while listening to this music.” Their parents’ interest in Klezmer music inspired the brothers to later follow suite. “We were really intrigued by the different musical scales that characterized this music.”

The brothers went on to attend F. Chopin’s Music Academy in Warsaw. There, they met the other three musicians, who now complete the band’s sound: Rafal Grzaka on accordion, Gabriel Tomczuk on double bass, and Tomasz Waldowski’s on drums. All five band members are graduates of the Academy. And even though none of them have
Jewish roots, they all share the common roots of having grown up in Polish cities (Lublin, Warsaw and Bialystok.) which, prior to WWII, were strongholds of Yiddish culture.
Together, the five musicians produce a sound that explores Poland’s multicultural past and connects it with Poland’s contemporary culture. Though Klezmafour’s sound is primarily based upon Klezmer musical tradition; the band’s appreciation for diverse styles urged them to infuse their music with jazz, Balkan folk, Polish folk and other musical influences.

Wojtek continued to explain the roots of their sound and the mindset behind their creative approach. “We love Klezmer music and its beautiful musical qualities. But we live now in the 21st Century; and we feel that just trying to restore this music is not enough for us. We want to expand upon it.” He continued on, “In Klezmafour, our goal is to create music which sounds like [it is] played on one instrument … a perfect balance of colors, proportions and dynamics. This has been our destination since the beginning … the place where we want to arrive.”

Wojtek discussed the recent developments for the band. “By 2009, we thought that our sound was developed and that it was time to present our music to even wider audience; so we recorded our first CD.” The band’s self-titled CD is comprised largely of original works, composed by each of the band members. They are currently working on their second CD.

Then in 2010, Wojtek believed that they were ready to enter the 2nd International Jewish Music Competition in Amsterdam; but his fellow band members were less confident. “At first, I had to really work hard on convincing my band mates that it was worth it and possible for us to compete with other 200 top notch Jewish bands from all over the world.” But after competing against 24 Klezmer bands from 12 countries, the band was surprised to qualify as one of the six finalists. They continued on in the competition and were overjoyed to win two of the three top awards. As a result of their success, Klezmafour was invited to perform at Vancouver’s Chutzpah Festival and Michael Dorf’s City Winery in Manhattan. Their 2-week tour will start on February 27th and will conclude on March 13th, 2011, with concerts in Washburn, Chicago, Madison, Cleveland and Boston.

Here is what other people who have heard Klezmafour’s music said about us:
“One of the most energetic and compositionally strong Klezmer bands I have seen in a long time” – Michael Dorf, New York impresario, producer of New York Jazz Festival

“Klezmafour is energetic, enthusiastic and exciting to watch. They really enjoy making music and bring a fun, fresh approach to Klezmer. Definitely one of the great discoveries at the Amsterdam Jewish Music Competition in 2010” – Ken Gould, director of International Jewish Music Festival in Amsterdam, Netherlands

“These songs all fit together very well. There wasn’t anything on the album that I didn’t like. Klezmafour has hit on a new sound that, I believe, makes a bold statement on the the future direction of Klezmer.” – Keith Wolzinger’s review of band’s first CD, he is a producer of Klezmershack website; klezmer musician.

You can follow the band’s tour on Facebook and on their website: http://klezmafour.pl/new/index/

If you would like to attend a Klezmafour concert in Midwest:
March 3 (Thursday): Washburn, WI – StageNorth
http://stagenorth.com/shows/03/03/klezmafour
March 5 (Saturday): Madison, WI – High Noon Saloon
http://high-noon.com/index.php

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