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The Big Picture – David Krakauer at the Museum of The Jewish Heritage

Any great musician can play a piece of music and transport the listener to higher realms, but very few can make their instrument talk, cry, laugh, scream, whisper, all the while dancing up to the highest peaks of feelings, totally enwrapping the audience. David Krakauer is one of these incredibly few. The Museum of The Jewish Heritage presented, this past Sunday afternoon, a concert featuring clarinetist David Krakauer, violinist Sara Caswell, Sheryl Bailey and her electric guitar, Rob Schwimmer on keyboards, Mark Helias on contrabasss, and John Hadfield on drums and percussion, with special guest Alicia Krakauer – David’s daughter – giving a nice rendition of Funny Girl‘s People.

The program, The Big Picture, consisted of new arrangements of themes from movies portraying Jewish slices of life, such as: Fiddler on the RoofSophie’s ChoiceLife is BeautifulCabaretThe Producers, Funny GirlChariots of FireLenny and more. The visuals by Light of Day, enhanced the experience as they danced and reacted to the music.



David Krakauer has played every genre of music, in all the greatest stages here in the US and in Europe, leading his listeners to expect a lot; this performance was just one more testament to his mastery of and passion for the clarinet.


As a now amateur violinist (who 55 years ago – as a young boy – soloed with the orchestra of the OSSODRE in Montevideo, Uruguay), I was listening raptly to Sara Caswell, while her bow alternated from gentle to furious up and downs, as I was moved by her unquestioned virtuosity. I especially enjoyed the dialogues between her violin and David’s clarinet.


Sheryl Bailey‘s electric guitar moved seamlessly from elegant subtlety to furious attack, all coming together for a beautifully coherent weave of glorious sound, as in her rendition of Honeycomb, from Lenny.

Every member of the band managed to shine on his or her own, but… after the fourteen pieces on the program were done, David Krakauer played an incredible solo that showed his full understanding of the subtlest nuances of the clarinet’s sound; then, the whole band joined in for a superb piece that explored every facet of their artistry. Somehow, now at the end the cohesiveness of the group, their collective artistic soul shone through in all its beauty, in all its depth.

Kabbalists and Chassidic Masters wrote that the human soul does not speak with words, for words are limited and unable to express the full range of feelings in the totality of their power, instead the soul speaks with music – a niggun. The niggun may be sad or happy leaving the individual happy or sad, yet at the end one always feels differently about him/herself and the world around, one always feels cleansed. Being in the audience for this concert left my soul absolutely uplifted and cleansed.


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