Critic's Choice

The klezmer clarinet has recently seen more action than Hugh Hefner, as a revived interest in Jewish traditional music has caused little pockets of klezmer mania to pop up in the most unlikely of places. Take, for instance, the case of the New Orleans Klezmer Allstars, who play Friday, February 4, at the Gothic Theatre: Their hometown is the Big Easy, a place more famous for its jazz, bop and brass than fierce compositions fit for smashing glass and dancing the hora. But the town is also well-known for its voodoo, which perhaps helps to make more sense of things, since all is not as it seems with the Allstars, a six-piece jumble-aya that pairs skronking saxophones, accordions and Hammond B-3s with electric guitars and woozy, drunken-haze melodies. The tracks on the band's latest release, Fresh Out the Past, sometimes sound like Jewish ceremonial music, yes -- but how many Bar Mitzvah celebrations also include Latin rhythms, songs titled "Aging Raver's Personal Hell" or picturesque instrumentals that would make Tom Waits proud? Mazel tov! -- Laura Bond


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