The Midwest's Premiere Klezmer Band
What We Do:
- Concerts and Fundraisers
- Musical Seminars and Workshops
- Simchas (celebrations)
- Toured Florida with The Whole Megillah: The Story of the Yiddish Theater with Charles Troy (2015).
- Featured in the first Klezmer Opera, The Property, with Lyric Opera of Chicago (2014).
- Premiered Klezmer Rhapsody (Levinson) with The Chicago Sinfonietta at Symphony Center, Chicago (2014).
- Filled two houses at Chicago's Old Town School of Folk Music for the • Band's 30th Anniversary Reunion Concert (2013).
- Over 100 US and European Concerts over three decades, including Carnegie Hall and London's Barbican Centre.
- 5 commercial CDs, including Eight Nights of Joy with Rabbi Joe Black.
How Can Maxwell Street Engage Your Audience?
- Conclude your concert with a Klezmer Dance Party, led by our dance leaders! (Swing and Ballroom Dances also available .)
- Artists-in-Residence Workshops or Weekend, including master classes in Klezmer instrumental style and Yiddish songs.
- Continuing Adult Ed: Let us organize your own congregational klezmer band or kid's klezmer orchestra using our band book, "The Joy of Klez."
- Family theater: Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins, with klezmer music.
The Songbirds of Tin Pan Alley
What is the quintessentially American sound? In "The Songbirds of Tin Pan Alley," hear how Jewish immigrant musicians created a unique blend of Eastern European cadences and jazz. Threads of soulful klezmer music intertwine with black dance rhythms ("Sing Sing Sing") and blue notes ("The Man I Love") in the musical tapestry woven by the songwriters who gave birth to Broadway.
Tin Pan Alley was the musical melting-pot of America's black and immigrant communities. "At the turn of the century, West 28th Street between 6th Avenue and Broadway was surrounded by competing pianos, their strings stuffed with newspaper to muffle the sounds in order to prevent the theft of their songs."
This journey is illuminated with tunes like Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," "What'll I Do" and "I Love a Piano," Heifetz's violin setting of George Gershwin's "It Ain't Necessarily So," Harold Arlen's "Over the Rainbow," and other melodies that rose from Tin Pan Alley to take the world by storm. Interludes of swing tunes like "And the Angels Sing" and "Bei Mir Bistu Sheyn" show the influence of Yiddish music on the American songbook.
This program, which features two singers and a seven-piece klezmer/swing band, is both concert and theater, education and entertainment. It can be presented with an optional power point slide show as a backdrop.
Sit back and enjoy a journey to the birth of the American sound with Chicago's Maxwell Street Klezmer Band!
The Whole Megillah: The Story of The Yiddish Theatre
"The Whole Megillah: The Story of The Yiddish Theatre" covers the moment of the its birth in Rumania in 1876, to its rapid spread across the Western Hemisphere, to its rapld flowering into a Golden Age, a flowering that would last but a few short decades – and carry the seeds of its own destruction. It’s an amazing story, full of twists and turns that are - like Yiddish theatre itself - sometimes outrageous, sometimes poignant, but always melodramatic.
Charles Troy, America's most acclaimed dramatic musical theatre historian, creator of more than 50 multimedia presentations on the history of musical theatre, squeezes all these twists and turns into one packed program - the whole megillah - punctuated by music from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band that mirrors the soul of a vibrant but distant era.
- Click here for a video preview of The Whole Megillah
- Click here for more information about the program
I have discovered a fantastic group of musicians that are as professional and talented as they are personable and delightful to work with! Best of all, they are ACCESSIBLE: to paraphrase the rye bread commercial, You don't have to be Jewish to love Maxwell Street!
As a German critic writes: "Maxwell Street Klezmer Band is perched in the forefront of the Neo-Klezmer Movement. Yiddish Swing, Jazz and Early 20th Century pop music are funneled through Gypsy Big Band arrangements-- consider music inspired by Fiddler on the Roof performed with Squirrel Nut Zippers' grandiose yet loose technique."
What is "Klezmer music"? Klezmer is the folk music of the Jews of Eastern Europe. Klezmer is a Hebrew word, a collusion of the words "kley" (vessel) and "zemer" (melody) that referred to musical instruments in ancient times. It became colloquially attached to Jewish folk musicians sometime in the Middle Ages.
As Jewish immigrants came to America's shores, they brought this style with them, but quickly they adapted it to American tastes and instrumentation. The result? An organic fusion of everything from Russian dances, Chassidic drinking songs and Hungarian gypsy bravado blended with Dixieland, Jazz and Swing, with a Yiddishe Rhumba thrown in! A Maxwell Street klezmer concert is a true variety show.
The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has been the Midwest's premiere Klezmer Band since its founding in 1983. They have performed throughout the United States and abroad and have recorded 5 CDs in the US and one in Europe, as well as appearing on movie and television soundtracks in the US and Italy.
Some of their tour highlights include performances in The Barbican (London), Carnegie Hall (New York City), and nine overseas tours to Germany, Austria, England, the Netherlands, Norway and, most recently, Lithuania.
In 2000, Maxwell Street violinist Alex Koffman received a high honor when distinguished Chicago composer Ilya Levenson composed a classical composition for him: "Klezmer Rhapsody For Violin”.
Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has posted a number of audio samples at http://www.klezmerband.com/parties_demo.html. Depending on the speed of your internet connection, it may take a while for the .MP3 files to load. Enjoy!
- Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has posted a number of videos of past performances at http://www.klezmerband.com/scrapbook.html. Enjoy!
- You can also click here to watch a performance of their piece Galitzianer vs Litvak on YouTube
Reviews and Testimonials
"...we do remember the great performance the band gave in the sold out Carl-Orff-Hall. People are still most enthusiastic about the concert of Maxwell Street Klezmer Band, which indeed is one of the greatest performers of Klezmer music worldwide. We wish you all the best for the future of the band."
Ruth Snopkowski, Munich
Maxwell Street Klezmer Band has received rave reviews from all over the world! You can read them at http://www.klezmerband.com/raves.html
In 2010,members of the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band and friends in the Chicago Arabic musical community formed The Salaam-Shalom Music Project to celebrate a shared love of traditional music.
Versatile and warm, Maxwell Street Klezmer Band brings soul, originality and fun to every performance. If you would like more information about Maxwell Street Klezmer Band or would like to book them please click here.