The Klezmer Conservatory Band Hankus Netsky, Director
Klezmorim ca. 1910
From the shtetls of Eastern Europe, through the emigration to America, from the jazz clubs of cities and the stages of Yiddish theater comes the music of the Klezmer Conservatory Band. Klezmer music began in medieval Europe, where bands of itinerant Jewish musicians went from town to town playing for Jewish festivals and special events. By the 19th century, klezmer music had become a well-developed musical style, taking its inspiration not only from the synagogue, but from the non-Jewish culture that surrounded it. In America, immigrant Jewish musicians adapted this music to the new rhythms and instruments they found, creating new klezmer forms. Until the 1940's, klezmer orchestras flourished, but with the new styles of music, and the immigrant Jews' desire to appear "American," the klezmer tradition faded. Today, however, a klezmer revival is in full swing, with the Klezmer Conservatory Band playing a prominent role. Fueled by a desire to return to his roots, and the inherent appeal of the music, Hankus Netsky, the band's founder, discovered that both a grandfather and an uncle were in Philadelphia klezmer orchestras in the 1920's. In 1980, while an instructor at the New England Conservatory of Music, he formed the band.
Concert poster, Europe '90
Since its formation in 1980 the KCB has performed concerts from coast to coast. In April of 1990, the Klezmer Conservatory Band made its debut tour abroad, performing several concerts in Germany and giving a remarkable performance at the first-ever International Yiddish Festival in Krakow, Poland. The band has toured Europe regularly, and has also appeared at Australia's Adelaide Festival, New Zealand's International Festival of the Arts and Womad.
The band has made numerous appearances on Minnesota Public Radio's A Prairie Home Companion, with Garrison Keillor. In 1994 the band performed with Joel Grey in his recreation of Mickey Katz’s Borscht Capades and appeared in a PBS special with renowned violinist Itzhak Perlman called In the Fiddler's House, filmed in Krakow, Poland and New York. The program traced the Klezmer roots of Perlman's artistry and featured the soulful sounds of the KCB. A joint recording on EMI was released in the fall of 1995 (live version was released in the fall of 1996), and "In the Fiddler's House" concerts were performed in major venues, including Wolftrap, Great Woods, Radio City Music Hall, the Ravinia Festival, the Saratoga Music Festival, and the Mann Music Center (Philadelphia). In December of 2002 the Klezmer Conservatory Band performed a concert of orchestral arrangements of klezmer and Yiddish vocal music with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra.
KCB has the following recordings: Yiddishe Renaissance, Klez, and A Touch of Klez on the Vanguard label; Oy Chanukah, A Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden, Old World Beat, Live! The Thirteenth Anniversary Album, Dancing in the Aisles andthe highly acclaimed Dance Me to the End of Love on Rounder Records.Their 10th album, A Taste of Paradise was released in November of 2003. The band was featured in the 1988 documentary film, A Jumpin' Night in the Garden of Eden and was also featured in the film Enemies, A Love Story. The KCB filmed a children's video for Rabbit Ears Productions entitled “The Fool and the Flying Ship,” with narration by Robin Williams and an original score composed by Hankus Netsky, which aired nationwide on Showtime Cable Network.
Hankus Netsky, a multi-instrumentalist and composer, is an instructor in jazz and contemporary improvisation at the New England Conservatory in Boston, where he has taught for twenty-three years (serving ten years as chairman of Jazz Studies). He is founder and director of the internationally renowned Yiddish music ensemble Klezmer Conservatory Band and serves as research director of the Klezmer Conservatory Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to research in and perpetuation of Yiddish music. Mr. Netsky has taught Yiddish Music at Hebrew College, New England Conservatory, and Wesleyan University and lectures extensively on the subject in the US., Canada, and Europe.
His Film Credits include The Fool and the Flying Ship, a Rabbit Ears children’s video narrated by Robin Williams, The Forward From Immigrants to Americans, and The Double Burden: Three Generations of Working Women. He adapted and composed the score to the musical Shlemiel the First (produced by the American Repertory Theater and American Music Theater Festival) and composed the incidental music for the NPR radio series, Jewish Stories From Eastern Europe and Beyond (produced by the National Yiddish Book Center). Other significant recent compositions include The Trees Of The Dancing Goats, for Rabbit Ears Radio (PRI) and his Suite for Mandolin and Strings, commissioned by the New Sinfonietta of Amsterdam. He also served as musical director and arranger for Joel Grey’s Borshtcapades ‘94, collaborated with violinist Itzhak Perlman on In The Fiddler’s House, a klezmer music video, recording, and touring project, and was artistic director for A Taste of Passover and A Taste of Chanukah two PBS and PRI concert productions featuring Theodore Bikel, taped at New England Conservatory. He was a consultant, arranger, and featured performer on To Life! America Celebrates Israel’s 50th broadcast internationally by CBS. He has produced numerous recordings including nine Klezmer Conservatory Band CDs.
Mr. Netsky has received numerous awards for his work, including an Outstanding Alumni award and the 1998 Lawrence Lesser award for excellence in teaching from New England Conservatory. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from Wesleyan University and Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in composition from New England Conservatory.
Jim Guttmann String Bass & Managing Director
For over 30 years Jim Guttmann has performed in a wide range of venues from smokey dives to Carnegie Hall. He joined the Klezmer Conservatory Band at its inception and as a member of the band has performed and recorded with Itzhak Perlman and Joel Grey. In addition to working with KCB he is currently performing klezmer music with Andy Statman, Alicia Svigals' Klezmer Fiddle Express and Art Bailey's Orkestra Popilar. He is a founding member of the Really Eclectic String Quartet and has worked with nationally renowned entertainers and musicians, including Eartha Kitt, Mark Murphy, Johnny Shines, James Cotton, Matt Glaser, Russ Barenberg and the Artie Shaw Band. For many years he performed with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra; in 1999, he premiered Gunther Schuller's duet for trumpet & contrabass "Fantastical Colloquy." He also served as the musical director and bassist for the Tufts University Jazz Festival's Soul to Soul: A Tribute to Aretha Franklin.
Mr. Guttmann has studied performance with Edwin Barker and Dave Holland, harmony with Richard Cornell and techniques for improvisation with Charlie Banacos. He is a Grammy Award Nominee and the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant to study the arco solo tradition in jazz bass playing. He currently serves as Managing Director of the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the President of the Klezmer Conservatory Foundation.
Ilene Stahl Clarinetist
Ilene always wanted to play in a rock and roll band but "says she didn't know" she picked the wrong instrument. Nevertheless, she's been called the "Jimi Hendrix of klezmer clarinet" for her pyrotechnic performance style and soulful interpretations of traditional Yiddish music.
Ilene has been the clarinetist with The Klezmer Conservatory Band since 1987. She came to Boston immediately after graduating from Hampshire College where she did her Division III thesis, "Special Oy-fectsThe Art of Klezmer Clarinet." With the KCB, Ilene has performed extensively throughout the United States and on all international tours. She has been featured on numerous recordings and on radio and TV broadcasts, including the Great Performances program "In The Fiddler's House" with Itzhak Perlman as well as both recordings based on that collaboration. In 1998 Ilene founded Klezperanto - along with music director and accordionist Evan Harlan - to create a new kind of dance music that would combine the irresistible rhythms of zydeco, cumbia, funk, second-line, and Romanian brass band surf music with klezmer.
Ilene also teaches clarinet. Many of her students from Boston, Klezkamp, and KlezCanada have gone on to form klezmer bands of their own.
Yaeko Miranda-Elmaleh Violinist
Yaeko Miranda-Elmaleh grew up in Cambridge, MA and has played the violin since she was three. A finalist in the Boston Symphony Orchestra youth competition and First prize winner in the Arlington Philharmonic competition. She graduated from New England Conservatory in 2002 having studied and performed in the Jewish Music ensemble under the direction of Hankus Netsky. She currently performs and freelances in the Boston area.
Robin MillerFlute & Piccolo
Robin Miller, flute and piccolo player, is an eighteen year veteran of the KCB. She has performed on eight of the band’s 10 recordings and traveled extensively with the band over the years. She plays a variety of flutes from around the world, her favorite being bamboo flute, and she enjoys playing improvisational music for modern dance. She is an accomplished classical and baroque flautist. She has an undergraduate degree from Skidmore College and a Masters Degree in Education from Harvard University. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and two daughters.
Mark Berney Cornet
Shortly after moving from his native Oregon to Boston in 1997, Mark Berney (cornet) quipped, “I could never play Klezmer trumpet...much too demanding.” A few months later he was invited to join KCB. He quit his day job to devote his time to practicing and performing Klezmer and many other styles of party music.
Berney frequently plays for capacity crowds with the originators of punkmambo, Babaloo (Outstanding World Music Act, Boston Music Awards, 1999), and appears on their 2001 release on Butcher’s Ghost Records. He is also active with the Cha Cha Cha Allstars, which he also composes instrumental dance and party music for.
Berney has recording credits with several ska bands, including the Agitators, Beat Soup, and Pressure Cooker. His work with grammy-nominated Skatalites includes a full length recording, “Bashaka”, and tours all across the United States, Europe, and Jamaica, where they gave a command performance for Prime Minister P.J. Patterson in August 2000.
While completing his music performance degree at University of Oregon in 1994, Berney recorded with Cherry Poppin™ Daddies and is included on their 1997 platinum-selling swing revival album, Zoot Suit Riot.
Mark Hamilton Trombone
Mark Hamilton has been a member since 1985. As the only trombone player "In the Fiddler's House," he appeared, with Itzhak Perlman, on The Late Show with David Letterman. A talented educator, Mark is on the jazz faculty at Blue Lake Fine Arts Camp in Michigan. He is the former Instrumental Music Director at Applewild School in central Massachusetts, where his bands consistently won top honors at the International Association of Jazz Educator's festivals. Both an arranger and composer, he specializes in klezmer and jazz music for concert bands and other ensembles. He created HamilTunes in order to publish this music and make it available for school and adult bands. Mark is a busy freelancer (even though he plays the trombone) and has performed with Joe Williams, Victor Borge, Robin Williams, and Joel Grey among others. A proud graduate of New England Conservatory and the University of Delaware, he is also a founding member of the ensembles Brass Planet and ¡Klezperanto! Mark's web site
Art Bailey Piano
Pianist and accordionist Art Bailey is active in the improvised and world music scenes, and has appeared with such diverse musical performers as jazz saxophonist Steve Lacy, classical violinist Itzhak Perlman, and renowned bluegrass musician Del McCoury..
Art has been the pianist with the Klezmer Conservatory Band since 1998, contributing new arrangements to the band’s repertoire and making stage and television appearances worldwide. Since moving to New York in 2003, Art has performed with many of the major participants of the downtown klezmer scene including David Krakauer, Frank London, Alicia Svigals and Matt Darriau. He has performed on Broadway in the revival of “Fiddler on the Roof” with Harvey Fierstein and in “Most Happy Fella” at Lincoln Center with the New York City Opera. In addition to his activities as a pianist and arranger in jazz and latin music, his current project, Orkestra Popilar, is an exciting quintet that explores the Romanian side of Jewish music.
Brandon Seabrook Strings
Banjo, mandolin and guitar player Brandon Seabrook, is a graduate of New England Conservatory of Music. In addition to his work with the Klezmer Conservatory Band he has worked in a wide range of idioms including traditional blues with the Ron Levy Blues Band and his own modern jazz trio.
Grant Smith Drums, percussion
Grant Smith has studied drumset with Alan Dawson, Arabic drums with Jamie Haddad, tabla with Shashi Nayak, Afro-Cuban percussion with Enrique Pla, and Handance with Glen Velez. The Boston Globe calls him a "brilliant improviser." The Boston Phoenix has noted his topflight "cross-genre " abilities. Others note his sunny disposition. Grant has toured extensively, including Thailand, Australia, and both Europes. He is also a part of many world music, jazz, classical, orthodox, deconstructed, and free projects. Theatre and dance credits include the American Repertory Theater's production of "The King Stag," featuring a solo multi-percussion score (with staging and costumes by Julie Taymor) and movement works with Shakti Smith, Jane Wang, and Liz Roncka as well as his own choreography known as hogginsho.
Despite such high profile gigs as tympani with Itzhak Perlman, borscht drums with Joel Grey, and tabla with the Violent Femmes, Grant still insists that his biggest gig was the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade with Kermit the Frog and Big Bird. Fave color: green. Fave food: Jane's.cookies. Vegetarian.
John Servies Sound Design & Audio Engineer
Percussionist and Audio Engineer/Producer John Servies, a Pensacola Florida native, currently lives in Arlington Massachusetts. He has been a music industry professional since 1974 working with both major and independent clients for local, national and international productions. John is the sound designer for and tours regularly with the internationally acclaimed Klezmer Conservatory Band. He served as co-producer and recording engineer for the band’s latest album, “A Taste of Paradise.”
Dana Parsons Audio Engineer
Audio engineer Dana Parsons mixes KCB’s stage monitors. In addition to working KCB, he has mixed monitors for B.B. King, Arturo Sandoval and Taj Mahal.
© 2005-2007 Klezmer Conservatory Band