Zeek on Holshouser: Klezmer meets jazz and the accordion

Will Holshouser Speaks the Language of Klezmer

Peter Bebergal

Listen: Brooklyn Research by the Will Holshouser Trio
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Will Holshouser uses jazz, experimental music, and elements of folk to compose intellectually complex but deeply emotional music. This tension between the head and the heart is expressed lovingly by Holshouser’s instrument of choice, the accordion. Consider his piece “Brooklyn Research” from his album Singing to a Bee. The accordion begins as a kind of haunted spectator, the theorist who secretly desires to be an artist. By the end of the composition, the accordion is walking right along with the worldly trumpet, finally giving in to the ordered chaos of the world.

Clearly indebted to klezmer for the framework of much of his music, Holshouser has toured and recorded with the preeminent clarinetist David Krakauer and his group Klezmer Madness. But his work does not end there. He has also played with Regina Carter, Antony & the Johnsons, Phillip Johnston, Dave Douglas, Andy Statman, Lenny Pickett, the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra, the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the New York City Opera, Mark Morris Dance Group, Roberto Rodriguez, the Raymond Scott Orchestrette, and others. Leaving klezmer aside, Holshouser’s musical roots run deepest in jazz and folk, sometimes at the thorny intersection between the two.

I spoke with Holshouser about klezmer, tradition, the relationship between folk and jazz, and that sweet melancholy instrument, the accordion.

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