The Alexandria Kleztet
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The Alexandria Kleztet

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | INDIE

Baltimore, Maryland, United States | INDIE
Band World


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"Close Enough For Klezmer"

While not as rock oriented or obviously avant garde as The Klezmatics or The New Orleans Klezmer All Stars, The Alexandria Kleztet are expanding the concept of what a klezmer band can be. Thus, their third CD is appropriately titled Close Enough for Klezmer.
For example, this CD includes tunes not normally associated with klezmer bands, such as the Jewish folk song “Hine Ma Tov” (this was always a favorite at family gatherings) and two pieces from Israeli songwriter Naomi Shemer: “Chorshat Ha’Ekaliptus” and “Y’rushalayim shel Zahav (Jerusalem of Gold).” But what definitely separates this clever band from the pack of klezmer outfits is the strong jazz influence. For example, on several original compositions, band leader Seth Kibel blows his heart out with hot clarinet and saxophone riffs. In fact, there’s a fair amount of jazz-like improvisations from Kibel and his colleagues on violin and electric bass on several cuts here.
Other colors also bring fascinating shades to The Alexandria Kleztet’s music. For example, “Klezmer Nova,” an original composition by Kibel, has a relaxed, samba-like rhythm. “Bassist on the Roof,” a piece composed by bassist Scott Harlan, has a lively flamenco feel, emphasized by some deft finger work from Harlan, here doubling on electric guitar.
Violin and clarinet harmonize well throughout this recording.
The Alexandria Kleztet may not be international stars yet, but under the dynamic leadership of Mr. Kibel they will definitely get there. -- KR - Sing Out! (Summer 2006)

"Delusions of Klezmer"

I have long been partial to the Alexandria Klezmer Quartet, and before that, Seth Kibel's work in Cayuga Klezmer Revival. This new release, even better than their first, amply demonstrates why. From the humor and skill of the opening "Frailach Medley," or Tarras' "Bulgar in Bb" through the rock-informed (but very klez-ish) "Duncan's Disturbance" or "Cry of the Wild Lucy" (complete with Armenian-American surf guitar riffs!) through reworkings of familiar synagogue and Israeli tunes ("Eli, Eli," "Dodi Li," "Y'did Nefesh") the band exudes excellent musicianship and a joy of klezmer that are exactly what one hopes for not only at a simcha, but when listening to the music in the comfort of one's home. Eschewing the bar mitzvah beat (I especially appreciate the understated percussion, and the delightful electric bass lines--something I may never have written before), the band manages to make klezmer swing, and to fit all of the music that is modern American Jewish. The result is so delightful. The American rock/pop influence on "Pepper's Dirge" is unmistakable, yet tastefully "dance-dik" with a lovely jazzy doina in the middle. Some items, such as "Friday night at Elmo's" or "Winky" tread a fine line between saccharine and something better, as does "Od lo ahavti dai" (done so perfectly by the Australian band, Klezmania, on "Oystalia" as "Nyet Nyet"). On the other hand, "Untitled" and "Delusions of Klezmer" slip into a classical mode that is equally delightful (and not at all sweet). I am grateful for the music and for the attempts, for the ways in which Jewish music is stretched and renewed so successfully. That they largely succeed is a plus.

I am going to be very sorry to shelve this album after reviewing it. Indeed, it would have been reviewed months ago, but I have a hard time sitting still to write, when I could be kick-back listening, or dancing around the room. Of course, by now, Seth Kibel should have a new CD almost ready for release, so there is more to look forward to.

Reviewed by Ari Davidow 2/22/03

Personnel this recording:
Seth Kibel: clarinet, flute, soprano recorder, piano (tracks 6, 9, 18)
Claire Cardon: violin
Scott Harlan: fretted and fretless basses, keyboard (track 16)
Tim Jarvis: drums, dumbek, cabasa, tar, tamtam, riq, morrocan clay drums, siren, temple blocks, zils, bells, melodica

Additional musicians:
Joel Cardon: cello (tracks 6, 10)
Helen Hausmann: violin (track 10)
Susan Jones: viola (track 10)
Bruce Katsu: electric guitar (tracks 4, 7, 11, 13, 17)
Sean Lane: piano (track 17)
Danny Morris: electric guitar (track 14)

Frailach Medley (trad., Beckerman) 6:10
Baym Rebin in Palestina (trad.) 4:04
Duncan's Disturbance (Kibel) 3:17
Y'Did Nefesh (Zweig) 2:51
Dodi Li (Chen) 3:22
Friday Night at Elmo's (Kibel) 2:42
Od Lo Ahavti Dai (Shemer) 2:33
Eli, Eli (trad.) 3:59
Untitled (Kibel) 2:42
Delusions of Klezmer (Kibel) 4:01
Pepper's Dirge (Kibel) 5:42
Bulgar in Bb (Tarras) 2:57
Winky (Kibel) 4:51
Cry of the Wild Lucy (Kibel) 5:15
Shikt a Tiket / New Yorker Trern (trad./Altman) 3:42
Which Way Did He Go, George? (Harlan) 2:47
Miki Loves Mambo (Kibel) 3:36
Emma's Tune (Kibel) 3:11

- Ari Davidow -- The Klezmershack -- 2002

"Delusions of Klezmer"

The Alexandria Kleztet "Delusions of Klezmer"
Label: Own label; CD 2; 2002; Playing time: 68:31 min
Let's start with a confession. Actually, I don't like clarinets that much, with their shrieking and blood-chilling abilities. To my positive surprise, one of my prejudices was proved wrong again and I became converted. The klezmer revival is in full swing with dozens of bands across the Nation. Some faithfully recreate the traditional sounds of the past, and some push the boundaries of the music by incorporating modern influences from jazz and rock and roll. The Alexandria Kleztet from Washington DC experiments with the second and fuse a wide range of influences. Clarinetist Seth Kibel (Ex-Cayuga Klezmer Revival) is occupied with a swing combo when not expanding klezmer music. Violinist Claire Cardon comes from a classical background and plays with a symphony orchestra. Bassist Scott Harlan is a jazzer and Tim Jarvis tries all kinds of exotic percussion and world beats. The tunes are either written by Seth Kibel himself or alternative klezmer reworkings of masters like klezmer clarinetist David Tarras's "Bulgar in Bb" or Israelian composer Naomi Shemer's "Od Lo Ahavti Dai". A fine work. - FolkWorld -- 2002

"Delusions of Klezmer"

Alexandria Kleztet / "Delusions of Klezmer" (self-produced). A delightful followup to their first CD. Although the title suggests an album of straight-ahead klezmer, these folks from Baltimore are more eclectic than that, and several of the most effective cuts here are a bit off the klezzical mainstream, particularly the title track and its immediate successor, "Pepper's Dirge," both of them enchanting waltz tunes. A nicely programmed set that changes speeds as effectively as Mike Mussina. (Available from Rating: 4 stars - George Robinson, 2002

"Delusions of Klezmer"

The Alexandria Kleztet’s second album is a good one. The foursome hails from Baltimore and features the mixed gendered crew of Seth Kibel, Claire Cardon, Scott Harlan and Tim Jarvis. The talented bunch employ clarinets, violins, electric guitars, host of percussion instruments and more. The new album is entitled Delusion of Klezmer packs in over 68 minutes worth of rollicking tunes.

The album is all instrumental and mixes familiar standards melodies and original compositions. Frailach Medley and Bulgar in Bb sound as if they belong at an Eastern European Jewish wedding. But the catchy oompa is not from a tuba but from an electric bass. That fact is evident on Cry of the Wild Lucy, which is driven by a fast and heavy bass line. When I played this track on the radio a caller asked if it was The Pixies. He was a little surprised when I told him the name of the group, and then promptly requested Dinosaur Jr.

As traditional as the songs are, it has a modern feel to it. The musicians are as young at heart as they are in age. The songs have a light-hearted feel that goes with the album’s title as song titles like Which Way Did He Go George and Miki Loves Mambo. Their 2000 debut was entitled Y2Klezmer.

Nevertheless, Eli Eli, Y’Did Nefesh and Dodi Li sound as timeless as ever. The group’s original compositions come in traditional variety as well, but they also write some smooth jazzy sounding pieces. Some invoke a smoky jazz night-club. The title track is striking in name but hardly striking in sound. It’s a percussion-free piece of theme music that could easily be the soundtrack to some unwritten movie. - Cleveland Jewish Radio, 2002

"Alexandria Kleztet on the Avenue"

Alexandria Kleztet on the Avenue

As modern as it is rooted in the Yiddish traditions of Eastern Europe, the Alexandria Kleztet -- with Seth Kibel leading the way on clarinet -- strides through jazz, Tin Pan Alley, worldbeat, rock and more. Fashioning what Kibel calls “alternative klezmer,” the quartet caps the seventh annual “Art on the Avenue” outdoor fest Oct. 5 with its heart-lifting, dance-inducing fusion.

The Alexandria Kleztet was founded in May 1998, not long after Kibel relocated to the Baltimore area from Upstate New York. And though he sits in on sax with boogie-woogie piano man Daryl Davis, plays with the Tom Cunningham Orchestra, fronts the swing combo Air Mail Special and takes up every onstage opportunity that comes his way, he has managed to produce two albums with the Kleztet.

“Delusions of Klezmer,” released in April, contains 18 tracks. “Ten are original compositions,” says Kibel, some of the new songs were “inspired by pets, some by children. The rest are original arrangements of traditional material.”

“Miki Loves Mambo,” a tune he wrote for his two-and-a-half-year-old niece, Mikayla, and “Cry of the Wild Lucy,” a surf rock-tinged instrumental with ex-Nighthawk Danny Morris on electric guitar, can be heard on the band’s MP3 page. “Klemerobics” and “Willard’s Freylekh,” also available for download, are from the Kleztet’s year 2000 Wammie Award-winning album for World Music recording, “Y2Klezmer.”

“We take an old tradition and make it original. I like to think we’re fairly innovative in that regard,” says Kibel. “A reviewer in New York called us the Flectones of Klezmer -- I think that’s a high compliment.”

The Alexandria Kleztet’s appearance at “Art on the Avenue,” starting at 5 p.m., closes the homegrown crafts and music festival; but the full day of family-friendly activities -- spread over an eight-block span of the Del Ray area of Alexandria -- begins at 10 a.m. -, 2002

"A Danish review!"

‘Delusions of Klezmer’
Kleztet CD 2 u69 minutter
Klezmer. Amerikansk ensemble med en del originale ideer i posen. Kleztetten tæller fire medlemmer, der spiller klarinet violin, bas og trommer. Da der på mange numre ikke er noget instrument der lægger akkorder, er lydbilledet en del anderledes end hos de fleste andre klezmer bands. Bassen spiller for eksempel en mere aktiv rolle, end man ellers hører i klezmer, og violinen lægger tonale og rytmiske modstemmer til klarinetten, som oftest – og ganske velfortjent – har førerrollen. På nogle numre udvides besætningen med klaver, guitar eller cello. Der er ti af gruppens egne kompositioner med på pladen, og det klassiske repertoire spilles som det ikke er hørt før. Også CDens titelnummer, hvor bas og trommer afløses af en strygerkvintet. Jazz, funk og surf har også inspireret. Og skæringen ‘Miki loves Mambo’ afslører en latinamerikansk indflydelse. Hvis gruppen havde begrænset sig lidt og indspillet 10-12 gennemarbejdede numre i stedet for 18, ville denne plade nok være faldet endnu bedre ud.
Mikkel Hviid Hornnes - Djembe magazine, 2002

"Close Enough For Klezmer"

Here’s another group vying for the title of most-committed klezmer revival act. Based in Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, this quartet had been silent on the recording scene since 2002, but have come roaring back with an impassioned set that includes inspired versions of Hebrew and Yiddish material, including “Ma Navu,” “Hine Ma Tov,” and “My Yiddishe Mame.” But they also let their jazzy roots show a little on such originals as “Bassist on the Roof.” And it’s awfully hard to resist “Where There’s a Will, There’s a Waltz.” Beyond the occasional traditional prayer, the Kleztet has given us good, old-fashioned party music. And that calls for celebration. - Dirty Linen, August/September 2006


Four full-length CD's:
Peace, Love and Coffee (2009)
Close Enough for Klezmer (2005)
Delusions of Klezmer (2002)
Y2Klezmer (1999)

Additionally, we have contributed tracks to the following albums:
A Chanukah Feast (2004)
See With Your Heart (2005)
A Chanukah Feast, Volume II (2006)
Azalea City Recordings Sampler Volume II (2006)
Hudson Harding Music Holiday Sampler, Volume II (2007)



The Alexandria Kleztet is an exciting and innovative alternative klezmer band based in the Washington/Baltimore region. Formed in 1998, they have brought their distinctive brand of this musical tradition to diverse venues throughout the Mid-Atlantic, including ELEVEN annual appearances at the Kennedy Center, the Carter-Barron Ampitheatre, the State Theater (in Falls Church), the Baltimore International Festival, the Peabody Institute, as well as a healthy assortment of bookstores, festivals, and coffee shops. Plus, the usual mix of weddings and Bar/Bat Mitzvahs!

By combining traditional Eastern-European/Jewish music with diverse influences from other genres, such as jazz, classical, worldbeat, and rock music, The Alexandria Kleztet creates a unique sound that is anything but traditional. Their most recent CD, Peace, Love and Coffee, was released in July 2009. All four of their albums were named “Best World Music Recording” by the Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) following their release. The band has also received Wammies for "Best World Music Duo or Group" in 2003, 2004, and 2006, "Best World Music Instrumentalist" (Seth Kibel) in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2010, and "Best Jazz Instrumentalist" (Seth Kibel) in 2005, 2007, and 2008.

In January 2007, they undertook their first international tour, in Chile, with dates in Santiago, Vina del Mar, and a featured performance at the Semanas Musicales festival in Fruitillar.