Michael Winograd, a leading clarinetist in Klezmer music, stretches the boundaries of the timeless Jewish style on his latest recording, Storm Game. During the 13 selections, Winograd explores modern jazz, contemporary classical, European folk music and the avant-garde while staying true to his roots in Klezmer.
Storm Game features Winograd and his regular sidemen, accordionist Patrick Farrell and bassist Benjy Fox-Rosen, joined by a pair of Klezmer giants (violinist Deborah Strauss and Joshua Horowitz on Tsimbl), the talented Israeli jazz pianist Anat Fort, singer Judith Berkson, and two guest percussionists. The inspiring company and the wide variety of material result in some of Michael Winograd's most inventive playing.
There are many highlights to be heard throughout the varied program. "Passages" is particularly playful, the classical-oriented "Prospect" is distinguished and ceremonial, and "Storm," a showcase for Winograd's virtuosic clarinet, is quite danceable. Pianist Fort is in the spotlight on "Interruption," Farrell's accordion is logically heard throughout his own "Accordion," and Judith Berkson sings the haunting "Specter" and the pro-peace original "Who?" Some of the songs, such as "Skotshne," sound like traditional Klezmer pieces but are actually newly composed while others find Winograd pushing a bit beyond Klezmer.
While the selections on Storm Game cover much musical ground and can stand individually by themselves, the program as a whole forms a unified suite, with one selection leading logically to the next. It is the latest accomplishment in the career of Michael Winograd.
Born in New Hyde Park in Long Island, New York, Winograd, 30, came to klezmer music when he was a teenager. At 14, he attended his first Klezkamp, and within a few years was a student at the New England Conservatory in Boston. Through these institutions, Michael studied with many Klezmer legends and innovators including Sid Beckerman, Howie Lees, Paul Pincus, Danny Rubenstein, Andy Statman, and David Krakauer.
Winograd has toured extensively with SoCalled, Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, Budowitz, Frank London, and the Klezmer Conservatory Band in addition to leading the Michael Winograd Klezmer Trio, Tarras Band and Yiddish Princess.
In 2008, the clarinetist recorded Bessarabian Hop, an album that was very much in the traditional Klezmer style even though most of the songs were original compositions. Storm Game is a major step forward for it features Michael Winograd extending the Klezmer tradition, infusing the music with his own infectious personality, and creating fresh music for the 21st century.