Art Bailey's Orkestra Popilar

Art Bailey's Orkestra Popilar


We're a 5 piece Jewish music ensemble. Being string based, with no singer or clarinetist, sets us apart from the thousands of klezmer bands on the scene. We combine the traditional Jewish music with the energy and fire of Romanian gypsy ensembles and the experimental spirit of the downtown scene.


Orkestra Popilar is a Jewish music ensemble led by accordionist and pianist Art Bailey and featuring bassist Jim Guttmann, violinists Jeremy Brown and Jake Shulman-Ment, and mandolinist Brandon Seabrook. The repertoire includes 20th century Jewish fiddle pieces, improvisation, newly composed music, and pieces from the klezmer and Eastern European repertoire.

The sound of the ensemble owes more to the urgent, fiery sound of Romanian string and cymbalom ensembles than to Jewish-American wedding bands of the 40s and 50s, and draws from the cross-pollinated Romanian/Jewish repertoire, as well as Bailey's own original compositions. With the absence of the American dance band drum set and clarinet, the group takes klezmer music out of the realm of the archetypical 1950s klezmer sound most listeners are familiar with, and puts it in a setting that is reminiscent of an even earlier time in the recorded history of Jewish music. The result is fresh, unique, and thoroughly engaging.

The idea to form the group initially was inspired by the recordings of Joseph Moskowitz, the Romanian cymbalom master who settled in New York City around 1913 and was owner and operator of the Moskowitz Wine Cellar on Rivington Street in lower Manhattan. The wine cellar was a popular gathering spot for Romanian Jews, who were certainly drawn in by Moskowitz's cymbolm playing, and the restaurant was patronized by some of the celebrities of the day including H.L. Mencken, Theodore Dreiser and Joseph Pulitzer. Not only did Moskowitz's repertoire include what we know as klezmer, but it also included ragtime, parlor pieces, and European classical compositions, all filtered through his musical and life experiences, and expressed in a fundamentally Jewish way.

The group's aim is to remain true to Moskowitz's spirit of being willing to experiment with klezmer music forms, and at the same time trying to discover and retain the elements that give the music its Jewish identity.


Art Bailey's Orkestra Popilar
Branch from the Tree
HRL Records, released 2006
clips at

Set List

Our setlist is variable, depending on the audience, but contains all of our material on our cd, in addition to other klezmer material and newly composed music. Currently, we play two 50 minute sets with a short intermission.