Amsterdam Klezmer Band

Стиль:Ethnic/Folk, World

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Amsterdam Klezmer Band исполняет восточно-европейскую еврейскую музыку с влияниями цыганской и балканской музыкальных традиций. Группа была организована в 1996 году саксофонистом Йобом Чайесом (Job Chajes), первые яркие выступления коллектива на улицах, скверах и в пабах города принесли бэнду мгновенную популярность в Амстердаме. Но это не остановило музыкантов - впереди их ждала международная карьера, гастроли, выступления на многочисленных фестивалях и слава самой «задорной» клезмер-группы в м... показать целикомире.

Job Chajes - саксофон
Janfie Van Strien - кларнет, саксофон, бэк-вокал
Gijs Ievelt - труба
Joop v/d Linden - тромбон, перкуссия, баритон-труба
Theo Van Tol - аккордеон
Jasper de Beer - контрабас, бэк-вокал
Alec Kopyt - перкуссия, вокал

The Amsterdam Klezmer Band (AKB) is an energetic and poetic stage act that charms international audiences. Their refreshing approach to Klezmer and Balkan music transcends the traditional aspects of this music and results in a very lively mix of Eastern-European sound.

Their strength lies in their ability to appeal to a remarkably broad audience across all age groups; they play clubs or theatres, festivals, parties, weddings or formal functions. AKB can both fire up a crowd and create pure listening pleasure with the vibrancy of their playing. Their instrumental skills are complemented by the vocals of Alec Kopyt from Odessa and Job Chajes (also on saxophone).



Since its foundation in 1996 by saxophone player Job Chajes, the band has evolved rapidly. In no time the band became world-famous in Amsterdam for its many vibrant performances on the streets, in the parks and in the pubs. Soon the rest of The Netherlands followed: the band performed at the Oerol Festival in 1999, 2000 and 2001 to great acclaim and was invited to the Noorderslagfestival in January 2001 (the media describing their performance as ‘the great surprise of the festival’), followed by the Lowlands Festival in August 2001. During that period the band toured in Slovenia, Switzerland and Italy and completed three successful tours of Turkey.

The third CD of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band, Limonchiki, was released on the New York label Knitting Factory label and the band had a grand tour of the Dutch club scene in the autumn of 2001, with as its highpoint the presentation of Limonchiki at the Paradiso, Amsterdam.

In September 2003 the CD Katakofti was released. It’s the result of a collaborative effort of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band and the Galata Gypsy Band from Turkey. The CD was released on Turkish label Kalan Records. In January 2005 SON (Russian for ‘dream’) was released, containing a veritable treasure-trove of new Amsterdam Klezmer and Balkan music. The album received an enthusiastic reaction from the (international) press and led to a year of heavy touring and playing gigs in clubs and theatres including world famous Concertgebouw Amsterdam and venues in New York, Moscow, Paris and Hamburg.

Nowadays only part of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band repertory consists of traditionals of Balkan or Klezmer origin. Most of the AKB repertory has been created by the band members themselves, who all without exception contribute musically to an ever-growing melting-pot of infectious Balkan/Gypsy/Klezmer cross-over grooves. In this manner the band endeavours to breathe new life into the Eastern-European Balkan, Klezmer and Gypsy music tradition. Passionate performances, spectacular live shows and a good dose of street credibility form the ingredients of their cocktail.

this is what Stan Rijven, a renowned Dutch journalist, wrote:
Mix a helping of Klezmer with a portion of Ska, add a liberal dash of Balkan and a pinch of Gypsy. Garnish with a tablespoon of Jazz and a pinch of Punk. Throw it all in the blender and the recipe for the Amsterdam Klezmer Band is complete. Serve immediately!

Their vette (throbbing) Klezmer/Balkan style never fails to leave the audience well and truly ‘klezmerised’. As the wind instruments, double-bass, accordion and percussion join battle with pulsating grooves full of raw refinement, you know you are in for a long and sweaty evening; be it in a small club in Canada or Turkey or at large festivals such as Sziget in Hungary or Lowlands in the Netherlands. According to saxophonist and band leader Job Chajes, it’s all about the “age-old cross-fertilisation of Hassidic, Balkan and Turkish influences, but in a modern context”.

The band members have been plucked both from the street and the conservatory, and have paid their dues within a range of other styles such as Jazz, Funk and Latin. “That’s why the wind section can switch so effortlessly between Jamaican Ska and Serbian Bleh music” according to Chajes.

Their secret lies in the surprisingly natural mix of deep-seated tradition and contemporary avant-garde. Trumpet player Gijs Levelt: “Some purists think that we’re not nearly traditional enough, and yet the early Klezmorim themselves incorporated the hits of the day into their own repertoire”.

It is precisely this ‘omnivore’ approach which allows the band to embody the true spirit of Klezmer. Klezmer is nothing more or less than 19th Century Eastern European dance music for weddings and parties, as played by travelling Jewish musicians who incorporated the musical traditions that they came across into their music.

The Amsterdam Klezmer Band has been based in Mokum (Yiddish for Amsterdam), itself once the ‘Jerusalem of the North’, since 1996 and is now celebrating the Klezmer tradition on a Global scale. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the brushing aside of the Iron Curtain, Amsterdam has once again become a magnet to musicians from Eastern Europe. Singer Alec Kopyt, who came to Amsterdam from Odessa, is a good example: “If someone had told me 28 years ago back in the Ukraine that I, a 19 year old rock freak, would end up performing the traditional music of my fatherland and would actually learn to love it, I’d have laughed in their face”. This was his comment in 2006 on the release of the album ‘Remixed!’. Kopyt is once again the front man for the new album, acting as a bridge between the two harbour cities of Odessa and Amsterdam. Now and again Chajes takes over the microphone to sing lines such as: “I was born in a town that was built on stilts and where you can eat gefilte fish”.

This much is clear: They may be based in Amsterdam, but together they form an international outfit that stands for much more than Klezmer alone. The new CD is a boisterous testimonial to this. In fact, they might as well have been called the Amsterdam Klezmore Gang: Thanks to them, the whole mishpocha now laughs when it used to cry.

Amsterdam Klezmer Band is both streetwise and classically trained; the band stands for tradition and innovation; they bowl party tents over as easily as draws tears in the theatre. The band plays Klezmer and Balkan, Ska and Jazz, Gypsy and Hiphop. Their music is many things to many people, but first and foremost: it’s a party.

In fifteen years, a bunch of Amsterdam buskers has grown into an international seven-headed klezmer beast. Those who come expecting a traditional evening (because of the name) will get quite a shock. The AKB has moulded its own, unorthodox sound, where a Jewish traditional can be accompanied by a rap or a growling sax solo.

And yet, their roots can even be heard when the music is remixed by world-renowned DJs such as C-Mon & Kypski or Shantel. They play at venues and festivals throughout Europe, and have travelled to such distant countries as Brazil, Mexico and South Korea. But no matter whether it’s the Hong Kong Jazz Festival or the Concertgebouw, Sziget or a bar in Slovenia, Lowlands or a Turkish boulevard: there will be dancing.

Saxophonist and band leader Job Chajes calls AKP a “mini brass band” that consists of three wind instruments, percussion, bass, accordion and a singer with a gravelly voice. “We still don’t have a drummer, nor do we use any electronics. Our musicians are not only part of the band but are all excellent soloists in their own right; this is part of the unique nature of the band.”

Chajes discovered his Jewish musical roots when busking during the early nineties. He had dropped out of college, and was busking to supplement his benefit money. The klezmer sound had become somewhat forgotten in Amsterdam, but people quickly warmed to it. Before long, his hat started to accumulate not only guilders but also the visiting cards of various parties and festivals. By this time, the repertoire already including the adventurous rhythms made popular by the Gypsy bands that also performed in Amsterdam.

1997 was the official year of birth of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band. They played as a quartet at the Oerol festival, at several liberation festivals and at street music festivals in Italy, Switzerland and Slovenia. However the real breakthrough was when they brought the house down at the Noorderslag festival in Groningen in 2001. The following day brought glowing reviews and calls from booking agencies and a TV show.

By that time, AKB was already the seven-piece band it is today. Alec Kopyt, the singer, lends the band a voice that is drenched in the bittersweet traditions of his hometown Odessa. The extended wind section caters for the Balkan and Klezmer tradition as well offering a generous helping of Funk, Jazz, Ska and Hiphop.

Since 1997 there have been more than a thousands performances and eleven albums. The band members are the spiritual kindred of the ‘klezmorim’: the professional Jewish musicians who trekked across Europe two centuries ago. The band has lost count of the amount of countries it has played in.

AKB was successful long before the Balkan hype became a worldwide phenomenon. They suddenly found themselves being sampled and mixed by dance producers, to their own astonishment. It appeared that the unique sound of the seven band members was perfect for the popular ‘Balkan Beat’. Even though this hype has died down, AKB continues to be busier than ever. The fifteenth anniversary of the band was celebrated with a big party in the pop temple Paradiso; it was AKB’s one-thousandth concert.

While still on the current tour, the band is already at work on the next album. Each of the seven members provides material. “We are a democratic band,” according to Job Chajes. “Sometimes, that can be a problem and lead to dilemmas, but it’s that friction and diversity that gives us our own sound.” That sound remains new and refreshing, and gets great reviews, time and again. Good reviews are well and good, but the band started on the streets and the streets remain their natural home. More important than the critics’ opinion is that people get up and dance and follow in the swinging footsteps of the mini brass band.

(by Leendert van der Valk)


Jasper de Beer: double bass, guitar banjo, backing vocals

Job Chajes: alto saxophone, vocals

Alec Kopyt: vocals, percussion

Gijs Levelt: trumpet

Joop van der Linden: trombone, percussion

Janfie van Strien: clarinet, backing vocals

Theo van Tol: accordion


- Mesjogge (MC 1996)

- Leib in de Pijp (MC, 1997)

- De Amsterdam Klezmer Band (MC and CD 1999)

- Mala Loka (CD, Syncoop – 5760 CD 2460)

- Limonchiki (CD, Knitting Factory – KFW300)

- Katakofti (with Galata Gypsie Band) Kalan Records

- SON (Connecting Cultures 2005)

- Amsterdam Klezmer Band Remixed (Essay Recordings 2006)

- ZARAZA (Essay Recordings 2009)

-Katla (Essay Recordings 2011)

-Mokum (Essay Recordings 2012)

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