Chicago Klezmer Ensemble

Chicago Klezmer Ensemble

led by Kurt Bjorling (clarinet, tsimbl) with Eve Monzingo (tsimbl, piano, clarinet) Joshua Huppert, Liz Johnson (violins) Al Ehrich (contrabass)

klezmer  – traditional & contemporary innovative for weddings, bar-mitzvahs & other simkhas in the Chicago area & abroad

For more information about Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, and to inquire about rates and availability, please contact Kurt Bjorling.

The video below shows an excerpt from a live performance at Evanston S.P.A.C.E., June 2010. Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, led by Kurt Bjorling, plays a traditional freylakhs dance set. Dance led by Steven Weintraub.

For upcoming public performances please visit our Performance Calendar.

…we aren’t doubtful about the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble – about their style, conceptions, top form of the artists. The band … played authentic music, full of energy and joy of playing together; music communicative and very attractive for fans of Jewish music as well as people without any experience in hearing this music. Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, on the basis of vocal hassidic music as well as klezmer folk pieces and Balkan dances, creates charming concert-instrumental music with plenty of solo parts… technically perfect, performed with great fervor and emotion…

(Translated from Polish by Michael Worwag)

Robert Buczek

Krakow Gazette

A sterling performance by the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble

So much sloppy and stylistically unauthentic performance has been passed off as klezmer music in recent years that one sometimes wonders whether this historic genre can survive the onslaught. Even if it can, the proliferation of inferior bands would seem likely to distort listeners’ expectations of how klezmer music ought to sound. As if to address these problems head-on, the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble played a sterling performance over the weekend that did more than avoid the usual klezmer cliches. The Saturday night concert, at Unity Temple in Oak Park, argued persuasively for klezmer as an art music worthy of scholarly performance and serious listening. That’s not to say, however, that the evening was in any way dour or academically dry. On the contrary, this quintet addressed dance rhythms with unmistakable verve, traditional wedding music with palpable joy…

Howard Reich

Arts Critic, Chicago Tribune

Where Yossele Rosenblatt Meets Yid Vicious: This Year’s New Releases Lead to Happy Confusion About What Constitutes Jewish Music

“… Also of a traditional bent is “Sweet Home Bukovina” (Oriente Musik) by the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble, a recording that reminds the listener that klezmer music can be a serious form of art.”

Gideon Aranoff

the Forward (FORVERTS)

The Chicago Klezmer Ensemble is a local Chicago treasure …. appearances such as last summer’s gig at Toronto’s Ashkenaz festival were a near once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to hear the ensemble live. There are two things that make the Ensemble unique. In the first place, they are very, very good. That is rare enough. In the second place, there is a treatment here of klezmer as if it were concert music that can be a lot of fun. Unlike modern bands, there is no thumpa thumpa drum here. No drum at all. Instead, there are two people who alternate on clarinet and tsimbl, two fiddles, and a great bass. It is, in short, an ensemble from an earlier period of Jewish music. In this sense, this music goes and shatters our sense of a monolithic, limited sense of klezmer …. the Chicago Ensemble, as Feldman notes, is among the radicals and avant gardeists playing klezmer today.  This album is not dance music, nor is it jazz…. It is a purified essence of Jewish music, expressed in a classical, sometimes chamber music style. It is beautiful and intricate, complex. There is also a warmth and soul to the music (and sometimes, it just plain moves) that is apparent only in the best of classical performances.

Ari Davidow