Metropolitan Klezmer

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Active since: March 30, 1994    Primary Instrument: Band/orchestra

Metropolitan Klezmer

Metropolitan Klezmer, founded in 1994, is the collaborative adventure of eight exceptional New York musicians creating inspired interpretations and original compositions around a panorama of traditionally eclectic Yiddish repertoire. The band was formed by drummer/Yiddish film scholar Eve Sicular with multi-talented world music artists Ismail Butera (accordion) and Michael Hess (violin, ney flutes, kanun zither) plus ubiquitous downtown bass and tuba treasure Dave Hofstra, and originally featured klezmer legend Howie Leess (b. 1920) on clarinet & tenor sax. Since their debut at John Zorn's New Jewish Music Fest, the group has expanded to include vocalist Melissa Fogarty and a dynamic horn section: Debra Kreisberg (clarinet/alto sax), Pam Fleming (trumpet/fluegelhorn), and Reut Regev (trombone). Karen Waltuch plays viola. Former members also include Steve Elson (reeds) and Rick Faulkner (trombone). Collectively, their experiences span genres from Albanian to Zydeco as well as jazz, Latin, classical, funk, ska and many other styles. Individually, Metropolitan Klezmer players have worked with such diverse artists as Bonnie Raitt, The Toasters, Bill Frisell, Toshi Reagon, Juan Carlos Formell, Indigo Girls, Burning Spear, Amy Sedaris, Max Roach, Rufus Wainwright, Nora York, and the Microscopic Septet, as well as Jewish music performers from the Klezmatics and Andy Statman to David Krakauer, Sephardic stars Alhambra and SF's Charming Hostess. To quote Seth Rogovoy (The Essential Klezmer), Metropolitan Klezmer is “distinguished by just plain great, versatile ensemble playing... exuberant spirit and wit.”...
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* Manhattan Community Arts Fund award: "J. Edgar Klezmer: Songs from My Grandmother's FBI Files" at Dixon Place, NYC * Best CDs of 2007, "Traveling Show" -Jewish Week * Outmusic Award nom, "Surprising Finds" (2004) -Outstanding Instrumental Recording * Outmusic Award, "Mosaic Persuasion" (2002)
”One of the finest American klezmer bands” - SONGLINES MAGAZINE [U.K.]

“Led by drummer Eve Sicular, of Isle of Klezbos fame, Metropolitan Klezmer takes a scholarly approach to the genre's history, yet never skimps on the exuberance at its core.” - TIME OUT NY

“Excellent klezmer...impeccable yet electrifying arrangements” “delightfully rambunctious... klezmer octet inventively mixes Yiddish media...” - Richard Gehr, The Village Voice

”Metropolitan Klezmer is an accomplished eight-piece band based in New York City whose repertoire ranges from traditional folk songs to klezified jazz tunes with a healthy dose of material drawn from Yiddish theatre and cinema. Utilizing tight arrangements borne of many years of playing together, with a healthy dose of improvisation to keep the material fresh, this engaging live set is highlighted by a moving rendition of “Mayn Rue Plats,” Morris Rosenfeld's classic laborsong, and an exciting final medley of Rumanian tunes.” - “Sing Out!” magazine, Vol. 51 #3, Autumn 2007

“Eclectic and sizzling klezmer... Eight virtuosic musicians bring klezmer back to the Main Space at the Knitting Factory, including new tunes and old favorites... “ - The (NY) Jewish Week

“With influences that range from old school Arabic music to Latin jazz to Motown, Metropolitan Klezmer interprets aged Yiddish favorites with a mixture of tradition and irreverence. Don't worry if you've never heard of the accordion-rich, Eastern European genre of klezmer. Led by percussionist Eve Sicular, the NYC-based eight-piece produces a sound that is not only exuberantly eclectic but also very danceable. Expect an eccentric cultural lesson from these modern-day purveyors of time-honored traditions.” - Jen Bachman,

“Fantastic players... excellent vocals... strength and diversity” - Scott Atkinson, RootsWorld Bulletin

BRIGHT SOUNDS, BIG CITY: Metropolitan Klezmer ' whose eight New York musicians have since 1994 been breathing new life into traditional klezmer ' brings a special holiday set of old and new songs to the Knitting Factory, with a line-up that includes a hodgepodge of yidishkayt: a song from the 1920s world of the Moscow Yiddish theater and even an Old World tailor's song set to a swing rhythm. - The Forward

One of the greatest klezmer bands I've ever heard ' Metropolitan Klezmer. I had to find a way to include them in this broadcast! - The Hot Club, Australia (

“Metropolitan Klezmer...embraces the protean, polyglot character of klezmer music...with a playful yet authoritative touch, mixing equal parts authenticity and creativity...Consider Eastern Village Hanuka from the album Mosaic Persuasion. Here the band transforms Hanuka Oh Hanuka - a holiday song so common it could be called the Jewish Jingle Bells - into an Eastern-style, odd-meter dance.” - Rob Taube, Our Town (NYC)

Metropolitan Klezmer Mixes it Up There is power in diaspora, says Eve Sicular, founding drummer of Metropolitan Klezmer, one of Gotham's most in-demand klezmer bands. “We believe that the Jewish identity is something that's always under construction,” Sicular says. That's why Metropolitan Klezmer... is as eclectic as it can be.” - Robert Makin, The [New Jersey] Courier News

“Metropolitan Klezmer is one of (I'd argue strongly for *the*, but I'm sure of universal agreement on ”one of”) the best klezmer bands in the world today.... anything but stereotypical, and nothing but terrific.” ”... virtuosity aplenty on music drawn from deep Eastern European and Middle Eastern roots, and from the Yiddish theater of the Jewish Diaspora.” - Shaun Dale, Cosmik Debris (

“...The absolute top in klezmer style. Whoever listens to Metropolitan Klezmer opens the encyclopedia of klezmer...” - Rootstown (Belgium)

“Eve Sicular's Metropolitan Klezmer is an outstanding group that doesn't get the recognition it deserves...” - Tad Hendrickson, The Village Voice

“It's a great band!” - John Zorn (letter to Metropolitan Klezmer)

I FINALLY saw Metropolitan Klezmer on Christmas Day. Snow, freezing rain, and an exceptionally warm and enriching experience. I'm so happy I went. Eve Sicular (recipient of the 2002 OMA for Outstanding Producer) is a marvel — as is every member of the group. - Ed Mannix, OUTMusic

“This group spans a range of ages and genders, and includes a repertoire that squeezes 1,000 years of Jewish history in song — from Asia Minor, the synagogue, Swing Era dance halls and '30s Jewish film music. When you hear the songs with vocalist Deborah Karpel, you'll realize how much Jewish music influenced the torch-song tradition and The Great American Songbook. “The orchestra's bassist, Dave Hofstra, has a veritable who's who resume: the Waitresses, blues guitarist Bobby Radcliff, Luka Bloom and 'Downtowners' John Zorn and Elliot Sharp. Eve Sicular, the oorchestra's drummer & leader, has played Cajun and zydeco, rhythm and blues and rock. She has also led an all-female klezmer band, The Isle of Klezbos. With the incredible variety of songs and styles, and the infectious joy that infuses their performances, you won't need to go to Vegas this season for a show.” - Mark Keresman, The (NYC) Resident

“The Yiddish Are Coming! Metropolitan Klezmer creates inspired, original compositions around a panorama of traditionally eclectic Yiddish repertoire.” - Town News, Ridgewood NJ

“Metropolitan Klezmer... subtle but ear-catching... reawaken themes that over-exposure by others elsewhere had jaded. Pleasantly inventive” - fROOTS (Folk Roots magazine, UK)

“A very interesting, unusual and wideranging klezmer band with all sorts of dimensions.” - Rob Weisberg, WFMU

“The musicians play with effortless precision... One of my favorites” - Stefan ('Gus') Bauer, Virtual Klezmer (Germany)

“exceptionally well-played, nicely arranged representation of the genre... A standout.” - Bob Tarte, The Beat

“... from dignified, small-ensemble Old World-style horas to jazzy, frenetic, big band-style tunes. The playing as always is top-notch... and Deborah Karpel's vocals boast a natural alllure so hit it ought to be licensed, taxed and regulated... Lesser-known and overlooked tunes... exuberant spirit and wit.” - Seth Rogovoy, Moment Magazine and The Essential Klezmer

“An urban, sophisticated sound, with crisp solos and exquisite ensemble playing... the musicality is true, the enthusiasm is unmistakable.” - Gigi Yellen-Kohn, Jewish Transcript (Seattle)

“Wildly variegated flavors... clever, spritied and smart musicianship... formidable... A band that can handle any tempo and a wide range of moods with equal mastery.” - George Robinson, Jewish Week

“Jewish 'soul' music of Eastern Europe with a New York twist.” - Newsday (Highlights)

“This feisty NYC-based octet, together twelve years and counting, is known for its encyclopedic range of Yiddish sounds. The group delivers an excellent 18-track live set punctuated by the 'Klezbonus' cut ”Comes Love,” from their sister sextet offshoot, Isle of Klezbos.” - CURVE Magazine

Traveling Show (2007) - live in concert TRACKS: 1. Uncle Moses' Wedding 2. Ot Azoy Neyt a Shnayder 3. Miracle Melody: A Nigun & The Poor Man's Tune 4. Shpil du Fidl, Shpil 5. Guys & Dolls & Bagels (Adelaide's Khazones, Lucky Freylekh, Bublichki/Beygelekh) 6. Traveling Dreydls (S'vivon & Spinning Mojo) 7. C Minor Bulgar & Ken O'Hara Freylekhs (Dance Medley) 8. Mayn Rue Plats 9. Pick a Pocket or Two 10. Baltic Blue 11. Kalarash (Parts 1 & 2) 12. Uskudar Taxim & Terk in Amerike 13. Ney Taxim & Tailor's Sher (Soviet Yiddish Theater) 14. Striver's Sher (Soviet Yiddish Theater) 15. Grandma's Dance/Mikhoels' Tune/Lebedik un Freylekh 16. Muzikalisher Tango 17. Mainly Rumanian Finale (Doyna, Hora, Sirba, Volokh) 18. Encore: Abi Gezunt Medley & Klezmerengue 19. Klezbonus Track: Comes Love Surprising Finds (2003) TRACKS: 1. Uncle Moses' Wedding Dance 2. Terkisher Navratilova 3. Ot Azoy Neyt a Shnayder 4. Pick a Pocket or Two 5. Shpil du Fidl, Shpil 6. Harei At 7. Soothsayer Taxim 8. Tailor's Sher 9. Striver's Sher 10. Der Dish-washer 11. Szol a Kakas Mar (live!) 12. Dreaming Wizard 13. Dray Shvester 14. Kinder Yorn 15. Howie's Doyna / No. 2 Freylekh (live!) 16. Abi Gezunt Medley (live!) 17. Der Milner's Trern 18. Blue Doyna Reprise (live!) 19. Shadkhn Tango / Rumanian Medley (live!) 20. Moses' Morning After Mosaic Persuasion (2001) TRACKS: 1. Kalarash/Dancing With Chairs 2. Brandwein in the Lotus Groove 3. Northern Doyna/An Alter Nigun [An Old Tune]/Abi Gezunt [As Long As You're Healthy] 4. Samovar Freylekhs 5. Mayn Rue plats [My Resting Place] 6. In Laws' Taxim/Mekhutonim Tants [In-Laws' Dance] 7. Muzikalisher Tango 8. Humphrey Bulgar 9. Lomir Zikh Iberbetn [Let's Make Up] 10. Medyatsiner Waltz 11. East(ern) Village Hanuka 12. Uskudar Taxim/Terk in Amerike 13. Unter di Khurves fun Poyln [Under the Ruins of Poland] 14. Rifka's Dream 15. Szol a Kakas Mar [The Rooster Crows] 16. Araber Tants [Arab Dance] Yiddish For Travelers (1998) TRACKS: 1. Nokh a gleyzl vayn (Another Glass of Wine) 2. C Minor Bulgar 3. Fifth Floor Khosidl 4. Mangiko/Yoshke fort avek (Greek & Yiddish versions) 5. Der feter Max's bulgar (Uncle Max's Bulgar Dance) 6. Libes shmertsn (The Pain of Love) 7. Sheyn vi di levone (Beautiful as the Moon) 8. Yosl, Yosl (Joey, Joey) 9. Farlangen (Longing) 10. Der gasn nigun (The Street Tune) 11. Ken O'Hara Freylekh 12. Russian Sher (Scissors Dance) 13. Fiselekh (Happy Feet) 14. Der yidisher soldat in di trenches (Jewish Soldier in the Trenches 15. Rozhinkes mit mandlen (Raisins and Almonds) 16. Metropolitan Raisins (jazz version) 17. Oy tate (Oh Father) 18. Zhok a la Dave 19. Steve's Bar Mitzve 20. Ismail's Doyna 21. Bessarabian Hora 22. Kostakowsky Sirba 23. Volokh 24. Der miropoler rebe's nigun (Miropoler Rebbe Chant)/Dybbuk March AND with sister sextet, Isle of Klezbos, Greetings from the Isle of Klezbos (2003) TRACKS: 1. Houdini Hora 2. Goldene Khasene (golden wedding) 3. Revery in Hijaz 4. Klezbos Kolomeyke 5. Rachelle's Doyna Indigo 6. Klezmerengue 7. Abrah 8. Unter Beymer (under the trees) 9. East Hapsburg Waltz 10. Szol A Kakas Mar - LIVE 11. Revery Reprise - LIVE 12. Father's Cadenzas 13. My Father's Nigun 14. Abi Gezunt Medley - LIVE

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