Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys
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There are not many places where you will hear "Cluck Ol' Hen" next to "Klezmer Waltz," or the music of bluegrass legend Bill Monroe cheek and jowl with the Moldavian "Leibes Tanz." In fact, there is probably nowhere except here. On the surface it sounds like it should be the most bizarre mix (after all, bluegrass and klezmer hardly seem like natural bedfellows), but it works. Margot Leverett is one of the best clarinet players of the klezmer revival, and she has filled the Klezmer Mountain Boys with players of the highest caliber and whose experience in bluegrass, klezmer, and beyond makes them the ideal vehicle to carry out her ideas. And there is no doubting the ambition in what she does, melding together two cultures and letting her own instrument add to the fiddle lines on bluegrass, while substituting an unusual lineup (bass, mandolin, fiddle, guitar) on the klezmer material. Brilliantly played — there is no shortage of talent here — the group can improvise rings around most bands, but it also works together to create a new and utterly unique hybrid that might have its roots in Europe (klezmer in the center of the continent, bluegrass on the Anglo-Irish fringes), but which becomes definitely American. Whether it has a real future or stays a wonderful oddity remains to be seen, but the enjoyment of it is immense.