Klezmer, Free Jazz, and Japan

One of the reasons that experimental jazz is so popular in Japanese culture, I think, is that it’s a socially acceptable hole in the dyke — that is, a moment of total spasmodic freakout within the context of a rigid, politeness- and decorum-focused society.

Traditional Ashkenazi shtetl culture is almost the exact opposite. This is, after all, the culture of rebbes who stay awake giving blessings until the early hours of the morning, and pray the sunrise service before falling asleep. By and large, it’s a casual culture where, at times, it’s almost proper to be improper.

In a way, it’s like working hard and playing hard, I suppose. When you’re composed, you’re very, very composed — and when you dance, you dance.

But enough of my anthropological observation. Check out this video — it’s pretty amazing. And have a great Sabbath, everyone — whether or not you play the klezmer air-clarinet at your Shabbos table.

Received via the intriguing Eliyahu Enriquez.

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