The Andy Statman Trio will perform an ecletic program in a benefit concert for the Havurah. - St Clair Productions

The Andy Statman Trio

The Andy Statman Trio explores many musical genres including klezmer, music of the Hasidic masters, American roots bluegrass, blues and original works drawing upon jazz and other traditions.

St. Clair Productions will present the trio in concert as a partial benefit for Havurah Shir Hadash at 8 p.m. Tuesday, March 24, at the synagogue, 185 N. Mountain Ave., Ashland.

Statman is known for his musical wizardry on the mandolin, as well as his innovative interpretations of Jewish music on the clarinet.He began his recording career as a teenager in the '60s as a session man for musicians such as Bob Dylan, Vassar Clements, Jerry Garcia and David Bromberg.

Statman's almost 30 recordings, both solo and as part of compilations, include "Songs of Our Fathers," recorded with mandolinist David Grisman. This CD sold more than 60,000 copies with no advertising. Statman also recorded "In The Fiddlers House" with violinist Itzhak Perlman. In addition to his own recordings, Statman appears on more than 150 recordings of other musicians. He was nominated for a 2008 Grammy for Best Country Instrumental Performance for the "Rawhide!" track on his new CD, "East Flatbush Blues."

In a press release, Statman describes his music as "a spontaneous, American-roots form of very personal, prayerful Hasidic music, by way of avant-garde jazz." He now performs with bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle.

"At a certain point, we're just talking, just having a three-way conversation," he says. This "conversation" changes each time they have it on stage, no melody sounding quite the same as it did before, and none bearing the definitive stamp of the genre that generated it.

The Indypendent, NYC, wrote: "The Andy Statman Trio is not aloof, excessive or crowd-pleasing. What makes them cool is that they play solely for the sake of chasing a journey of music. Spiritually elevating in rapid escalation and steered velocity, the Andy Statman trio thrills with versatility, virtuosity and sophisticated storytelling. They need only each other's skills to create moving dreamscapes of macabre and joy."

After mastering the mandolin and bluegrass music in the '60s, Statman returned to his Jewish roots and studied with the legendary klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras. The European klezmer tradition was almost wiped out by the Nazis and the Pogrom perpetrators of Russia. In the United States, as jazz flourished in the 1920s through the 1960s, a new generation of klezmer musicians added their own approach to this highly spiritual music form, sparking a worldwide interest in klezmer among Jews and non-Jews.

Tarras, one of those mid-20th century klezmer giants, saw Statman as a worthy apprentice and asked him to produce his final recording sessions. He also bequeathed to Statman his cherished collection of clarinets, with a provision that Statman play klezmer in his own way.

Statman formed the Andy Statman Klezmer Orchestra. The group performed the first-ever klezmer concert in New York City in 1977.

Tickets are $20 in advance, $22 at the door and $10 for youths 12-17. Children under 12 are admitted for free. Tickets are available at the Music Coop and the Havurah office in Ashland, online at stclairevents.com or by calling 535-3562.

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