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The Shirim Klezmer Orchestra had been playing traditional Klezmer music in the Boston-area for 14 years when they created Naftule's Dream as a more adventurous outlet for their improvisations and original compositions. The group has continued to evolve, recording two impressive albums, Search for the Golden Dreydl in 1997 and Smash, Clap in 1998, on their own. The Boston Phoenix described Naftule's Dream as a "sophisticated little big band," while the Boston Globe praised the group for its fusion of "Klezmer music, Phish-like improvisation, and radical Yiddish poetry."
Naftule's Dream and the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra represent the vision of Newton, MA-born clarinetist Glenn Dickson. A straight-ahead classical musician, when he enrolled in the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston he was steered towards improvisation by free-jazz saxophonist and conservatory teacher Joe Maneri, with whom he formed a band in 1981. Shortly afterwards, he formed Shirim Klezmer Orchestra with other students at the New England Conservatory of Music. Named after Naftule Brandwein, an influential klezmer music of the early 20th century, Naftule's Dream is rounded out by trombonist David Harris, pianist Michael McLaughlin, electric guitarist Pete Fitzpatrick, tuba player James Grey, and drummer Eric Rosenthal.