The Jews of American Jazz Recap

On Saturday, March 7, 2020, we learned and were entertained by Seth Kibel’s presentation, “The Jews of American Jazz.” The session was an examination of the personalities, lives and careers of Jewish-American musicians — including George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Benny Goodman, Artie Shaw and others — whose pioneering contributions shaped the uniquely American genre of jazz music.  We had approximately 40 people, including congregants, neighbors, and friends who found the event on Facebook.

Seth illustrated and accompanied his presentation with video clips and live performances on several instruments. He shared how Jewish and African-American musicians worked together to create new musical forms including jazz, be-bop, and rhythm and blues. We also learned about sound and recording technology and the revolutionary nature of jazz music. It was a new sound for a new era!

We were honored to host a group of Japanese students at this event. One of the students leads a klezmer band in Japan and played an impromptu duet with Seth. The students, our congregants, and neighbors and guests had a wonderful evening of music and learning. We look forward to hosting Seth again next year!

Seth Kibel is the leader, clarinetist, and composer for The Alexandria Kleztet, a genre-bending klezmer band he founded in the Baltimore/Washington area. The band’s four albums, Peace, Love and Coffee (2009), Close Enough for Klezmer (2005), Delusions of Klezmer (2002) and Y2Klezmer (1999) are all available nationwide. All four recordings received the Washington Area Music Association’s (WAMA) award for Best World Music Recording following their release. Additionally, Seth was named “Best World Music Instrumentalist” by WAMA every year from 2003 through 2010. In 2005, 2007, and 2008, he was also named “Best Jazz Instrumentalist.”

Thank you to the Jean Koshar and Samuel Rothstein Memorial Fund.

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