Klazz-Ma-Tazz Album Release Concert at Cornelia Street Café: Concert Review by Fred Stal
On Wednesday evening, September 2nd, at the Cornelia Street Café in New York, NY — which has become a Greenwich Village music and culture haven since its inception in 1977 — Klezmer/Jazz Fusion group Klazz-Ma-Tazz celebrated the release of their debut album Tangibility. The group, led by violinist/composer Benjamin Sutin, captivated an attentive and intrigued audience. Sutin begun his musical training studying with the legendary jazz violinist John Blake, Jr. Klazz-Ma-Tazz, founded in 2014, blends Sutin’s musical roots in jazz with his cultural roots in klezmer. The group as a whole infuses elements of jazz and klezmer, among other genres finely interwoven together.
The ensemble also includes: Elijah Shiffer (saxophone, clarinet), Ben Rosenblum (piano), Grant Goldstein (guitar), Mathew Muntz (bass), Matt Scarano (drums), Tim Rachbach (current touring drummer), and Ani Challa (tabla). Thoroughly trained musicians each in their own right, Klazz-Ma-Tazz crafts a collective sound that transcends genre and takes you on a musical excursion.
The show began with the title track from the album. Appropriately entitled, “Tangibility” offers a palpable framework that blends jazz and klezmer. From the opening bass lines, to texturized accompanying piano, there was an immediate sense that the audience knew they were in for a ride. The next song from the first set was “Tbilisi”, a Balkan-African influenced rearrangement by the band’s bassist Mathew Muntz on the jazz standard “Sweet Georgia Brown”. Again, it delivered a fresh concoction of jazz and traditional music that made you feel like you’d stepped into a completely new realm. Horsedance/When I Was On Horseback featured both Native American and Irish folk music with their signature klezmer interpretation. The first set ended where their album begins, with the group’s medley of “Papini/Sari Cicek” blending both klezmer and Turkish folk respectively. In the second set, highlights included the kickoff of the set with their take on the Beatles song “Girl.” The band coursed through many genres in a style uniquely their own, playing in a tight-knit fashion that left much room for adventure and improvisation.
The show continued with Sutin originals “Speak the Truth,” which lived up to its name, and “Kluez.” After that was an inspired rendition of the Greek Folk Song “Misirlou,” before they closed with the appropriate Sutin composition “Thank You.” This left me wondering if this was a thank you to us as an audience, or to the inspiration and training that made this talented band possible, or both. Going in I knew it would be a great experience, but the performance far exceeded my expectations. This band is honest in their approach to what they do, paying an eclectic homage to their roots which encompass a broad variety of elements and styles of music. Wild, yet reserved, the music of Klazz-Ma-Tazz will surprise you, excite you and calm you, all in one sitting. It will be exciting to see what happens for them from here and how they will further develop creatively.
Tangibility is released on OneTrickDog* Records – www.onetrickdogrecords.com