The Pushkin Klezmer Band is a Jewish wedding party orchestra from Kiev. Experimenting with folklore, Pushkin continues the tradition of klezmorim, as professional musicians were called in Yiddish. Once upon a time, Jewish wedding guests danced to their tunes in Ukraine and Bessarabia. There was so much joy and dancing spirit in klezmer music that it survived the Holocaust and assimilation. Now it wants to sing again in full voice.
Pushkin's repertoire includes modern and traditional arrangements of Jewish, Romani, Romanian, Greek and Crimean Tatar folklore, as well as Hasidic nigunim and street songs from Odessa and Podol. A century ago, this was the shared musical language of the peoples of Ukraine, a kind of jazz. Today, Pushkin revives this tradition and makes it new. At weddings, parties, and concerts, in synagogues and in the streets, whether performing for intelligentsia babushkas or cosmopolitan hipsters, they always incite the crowd to dance.
Pushkin is the brainchild of clarinetist Mitya Gerasimov. Born and raised in Russia’s Tatarstan, in 2008 Mitya went south to Odessa, in pursuit of love, warmth, and klezmer. He finally found this magical troika six months later, in Kiev. Soon Mitya discovered a gift for singing and after just a year, Kiev was calling him the king of chanson. In 2010 a new collective was born, performing klezmer music as it hadn’t been played in years.
Kiev klezmorim have played at some of the best venues in Ukraine, Europe, and Israel, at major jazz and world music festivals in Poland, Slovakia, Germany, Sweden. The band collaborates with some of the greatest klezmer musicians in the world, including David Krakauer, Frank London, Socalled, The Klezmatics. They have also performed and recorded with Čači Vorba, The Petrojvic Blasting Co, Gasmac Gilmore, The Shuk, Vanya Zhuk, Psoy Korolenko, and many others.
The group’s first album (and the first Jewish album to be recorded in Ukraine in many years) «Klezmer Über Alles!» was released on the Berlin record label Oriente Musik in 2016. It includes traditional Jewish melodies and songs born of that tradition. But these are no museum exhibits. In the hands of young klezmorim, old-fashioned themes become part of contemporary jazz and world music. Skipping lightly between genres, Pushkin finds its own sweet style.