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Dave Tarras - The King of Klezmer

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by Yale Strom

Dave Tarras -  The King of Klezmer chronicles the life and work of the man who was hailed as "The Benny Goodman of klezmer". Scion of a musical family, Tarras learned his craft from his father and played at weddings for Jews and non-Jews in and around Ternovke, Russia - even playing in the Czarist army - up to World War One. He immigrated to America with his wife and after a brief stint as a furrier, began to make a living with his clarinet. He soon became the most acclaimed klezmer in the United States. From 1925 until his death in 1989, Dave Tarras set the standard for klezmer musicianship and virtuosity. Even the great be-bop artists Charlie Parker and Miles Davis travelled to the Catskills to study his technique. Written with full cooperation from the Tarras family, this book contains newly-discovered biographical material, rare photos and 28 of Tarras' original klezmer tunes, arranged from his manuscripts for violin and/or Bb clarinet.

Yale Strom (violinist, composer, filmmaker, writer, photographer, playwright) is a pioneer in conducting extensive klezmer field research in Central and Eastern Europe among the Jewish and Rom communities. For more than 25 years and 75 research expeditions, Strom has become one of the world's leading ethnographer artists of klezmer culture. Currently, Strom is artist-in-residence in the Jewish Studies Program at San Diego State University.

Softcover, 128 pp.

A long overdue biography of a musical giant. Through comprehensive interviews, detailed historical perspective and a musician's insider knowledge, Yale Strom has woven a fascinating and informative portrait of one of the 20th Century;s most important, influential, and charismatic klezmers.
Oral history at its very best!

John Zorn

This colorful and insightful biography of Dave Tarras, one of the most important Jewish musicians of the 20th Century, not only illuminates his life, but the times in which he lived.

Andy Statman


ISBN 978-965-505-055-4
ISMN 979-0-675-034-4


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