Amsterdam Klezmer Band 11 4 13 9697FredvanDiem 1280x870The Amsterdam Klezmer Band (also called “De Amsterdam Klezmer Band” or AKB) were founded in 1996 by saxophonist, clarinettist and singer Job Chajes. The band mixes traditional klezmer music with contemporary jazz and also include influences from Eastern European music, ska, hip hop and modern dancefloor music. The band write most of the songs themselves, but also reinterpret traditional Jewish and Eastern European songs.
The band, founded in 1996 by Job Chajes with two other musicians from Amsterdam, played mainly on the streets of Amsterdam and in smaller venues and gradually achieved widespread fame, thanks to their becoming a fixed part of the scene. The band released their first two albums on cassette tape: “Mesjogge” (= Meschugge) in 1996 and “Leib in de Pijp” in 1997. Then came their first album (“De Amsterdam Klezmer Band”) on CD, still self-published, which was re-released in 2003 on the Amsterdam label BV Haast. In 2001, Odessa-born singer Alec Kopyt, who sings in Ukrainian, joined the band. There have been several changes in the band’s formation since they were established.
The Amsterdam Klezmer Band made their breakthrough in 2001 with the release of their third album entitled “Limonchiki”, which appeared on the New York avant-garde and jazz label Knitting Factory. This was followed by several extended tours throughout Europe and many appearances at festivals all around the world.
In 2003, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band released their fourth album “Katakofti” in collaboration with the Turkish Galata Gypsy Band, which gave them even greater fame in Turkey. Then the album “Son” was released on the Belgian world music label Connecting Cultures in 2005. That album was recorded in ‘live’ studio sessions with no further mixing and stands out because of its unplugged atmosphere and live feeling. Between 2006 and 2012, AKB recorded on Shantel’s Essay Recordings, releasing a total of four albums. Among these was the remix project “Remixed” where Amsterdam Klezmer Band songs were reworked by well-known DJs and electronic producers. Shantel's remix of “Sadagora Hot Dub” was a big Balkan Beat Club hit and was played continuously on various radio stations, such as the Austrian FM4.
A live album came out in 2012 entitled “Mokum”. Their next album, “Blitzmash”, was released in 2014. Here, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band deepen the fusion of live klezmer and Balkan music with electronica and dancefloor music. Brazilian-Dutch singer Lilian Vieira is featured on the single “Op Je Hoede”. There is an amusing video that goes along with the song. The song included on the album. Already in 2015 appeared another album entitled "Benja - Gangsters and Entertainers" which appeared only in the Netherlands and at concerts of the band. One on the album included song "A Sheine Velt" was also published in a live version on the compilation "Pandemonium Gitano" from Zurich Balkanbeat/Gypsypunk-DJ Rock Gitano. The album "Oyoyoy" was released in spring 2016 to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. In 2018 the album "Szikra" followed together with the Hungarian string ensemble Söndörgö.
In the many years they have been around, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band have long since developed their own musical style. Only a small part of their songs belongs to the actual traditional Balkan and klezmer repertoire. In the meantime, the majority of their pieces has been written by the band members themselves. In addition to elements of klezmer, Balkan and Eastern European music, set pieces from jazz and hip hop are often found in their music. On top of that, AKB leader Job Chajes has developed his own style of chanting, often rapping on the Amsterdam Klezmer Band songs. The musicians have no fear of any genre. The band work relentlessly on reviving and giving fresh impetus to the musical traditions of Eastern Europe, the Balkans and klezmer music.
Job Chajes
Gijs Levelt
Jasper de Beer
Alec Kopyt
Janfie van Strien
Joop van der Linden
Theo van Tol
1996 Mesjogge (Musik-Kassette, Eigenvertrieb)
1997 Leib in de Pijp (Musik-Kassette, Eigenvertieb)
1999 De Amsterdam Klezmer Band (Musik-Kassette/CD, Eigenvertrieb)
2000 Malaloka (Syncoop Recods)
2001 Limonchiki (Knitting Factory)
2003 Katakofti mit Galata Gypsie Band (Kalan Records)
2005 SON (Connecting Cultures)
2006 Remixed (Essay Recordings)
2009 Zaraza (Essay Recordings)
2011 Katla (Essay Recordings)
2012 Mokum (Essay Recordings)
2014 Blitzmash
2015 Benja - Gangsters & Entertainers
2016 Oyoyoy
2018 Szikra

Text: Robert Lippuner / Global Music Network
Translation: Jamie Davies


  gypsymusik 400x308px      newworld small      FORPRESS Jasha logo BLACK small     Dalit Music logo red vertical no background in symbol