Every trip has an unexpected delight. Ours was the night we went to hear the Klezmer band.
We were in Krakow, a city that tends to charm from the first instant. We were expecting to hear a classic Klezmer band, probably older guys in traditional dress, with a lively clarinetist, and a raft of familiar Jewish classics.
But that’s not what happened.
In fact, I was initially disappointed as the four musicians of Tempero came out on the stage at the Isaac Synagogue. They were young, casually dressed, and looked as if they were headed to a Blues Festival. I checked my ticket to make sure we were at the right concert.
Then they started playing.
The opening violin strain was so tender, we were transported us back to the 19th-century shtetl. Then the percussionist swept his brush across tiny chimes, and the village came to life. We were dancing through a Chagall painting.
The masterful accordionist sound, at first, like a full orchestra and, then, like a shepherd’s pipe. His virtuosity cannot be conveyed, unless you’ve witnessed this kind of classical accordion playing before. The bass player, well, he played with the kind of musical calculus you find only from jazz greats.
And so they went, from tune to tune. Some selections were traditional, others original, but each unfolded in ways that surprised us. The ensemble was so tight our mouths gaped. The “experienced” Klezmer lovers in our Smithsonian group were shaking their heads in disbelief and delight at the originality of the settings. Torrents of musical joy poured from that stage.