Brave Old World

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World-renowned Brave Old World has set new standards in creating, performing and teaching klezmer and New Jewish Music since 1989.  Combining the soulfulness of Yiddish tradition, the finesse of classical music and the vitality of jazz, the music of  Brave Old World is unique and unforgettable.

Klezmer music traces back to the dance music played by itinerant Jewish music that traveled throughout Europe in the nineteenth century. The tradition is brought up to contemporary standards by Brave Old World, a group that includes members from California, Chicago, New York and Berlin. “The Washington Post’ called Brave Old World “the revival’s first supergroup. Every player is a virtuoso”.

“The Boston Globe” explained that Brave Old World “plays a klezmer music that is entirely grounded in the present, so intensely evolved from the music as it was, and, yet, so clearly, obviously, entirely klezmer that one could not seperate out many of the influences“.

The original lineup of Brave Old World featured Joel Rubin on clarinet, Ben Bazyler on drums, Stu Brotman, a former member of 1960s’ rock band, Kaleidescope and an ex-sideman for Canned Heat, Geoff and Maria Muldaur and Ry Cooder, on bass, cymablom, tilinka and percussion, Indiana-born and Berlin-based Alan Bern on keyboards and Michael Alpert, a founding member of  Kapelye and a research associate at the YIVO Institute for Jewish research, on violin, accordion and vocals.

Rubin was later replaced by Kurt Bjorling, musical director of the Chicago Klezmer Ensemble since 1984. In 1992, the group won first prize at the International Klezmer Festival in Safed, Israel.

In addition to their recordings, Brave Old World has been featured on two albums with violinist Itzhak Perlman.

From Prof. Martin Schwartz, noted klezmer scholar:

I want to make sure everyone appreciates just exactly what BOW has done. It is important that we also understand what is happening in our own times rather than just fixate on the past. In my opinion, we are at a historic moment, namely, the moment when the klezmer revival has gone beyond itself and stepped out of the shadow of the past. BOW has created a music that has as much authority and artistry as anything we can hear on the old recordings, and I predict that musicians will look back at this group and this music the way that we have looked back at those early recordings.

BOW is supremely grounded in all aspects of traditional klezmer and Yiddish music, of which they have long been the most authoritative, exciting, and influential exponents. Their astonishing dexterity and musicianship brilliantly merges creativity and tradition, intellect and virtuosity, to create an organic whole. With a vision both broad and deep, BOW is moving forward with a new Jewish music that has all the dazzling improvisation of jazz, the compositional sophistication of the best classical music, and spans the entire cultural spectrum from East European traditions to postmodern experimental music, a feat made possible by their marvelous dexterity and versatility as individual performers and their spirit as an ensemble. Far more than merely a “klezmer” group, and certainly not just another “World Music” or “fusion” group, BOW represents an important development in contemporary music, transcending the confines of established categories.”


Klezmer, an extremely infectious style of music that Jews brought to the U.S., comes in many forms — some more Americanized than others. On Klezmer Music, the band Brave Old World emphasizes klezmer’s Euro-Jewish roots. But while this CD is a throwback to the years before klezmer came under jazz’s influence, this band does have a looseness, an element of spontaneity and a sense of improvisation that jazz musicians can admire. One may notice the similarity these songs (some of them instrumental, some with vocals) have to Arab, Greek, Armenian and Turkish music.

But whatever comparisons are made, klezmer has a distinctive sound that Brave Old World has clearly mastered.

Album: “Klezmer Music” by Brave Old World

Price: $9.90 (listen to more samples | buy CD)
Genres: Music, Jazz, Klezmer, World
Released: 1990 ℗  1992 Flying Fish



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