Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band

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Flying Bulgars
Also known as Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band
Origin Canada
Genres Folk
Years active 1980s-present
Members
  • David Buchbinder
  • Dave Wall
  • Max Senitt
  • Peter Lutek
  • Tania Gill
  • Victor Bateman

The Flying Bulgars (formerly the Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band) is a Canadian folk music band, who play original music rooted in the folk and celebration music of Jews originating in Eastern Europe. The band's music adds elements of rock, jazz and salsa.

The Bulgars sixth studio album Tumbling Into Light was released November 10, 2009. The recording was produced by David Newfeld and engineered by Jeremy Darby at the Canterbury Music Company. For the first time the Flying Bulgars are writing songs in English for the upcoming album.

The band currently consists of David Buchbinder, Dave Wall, Max Senitt, Peter Lutek, Tania Gill and Victor Bateman.

Band Bio[edit]

The Flying Bulgars is a Toronto-based ensemble. The band has been a significant part of the so-called 'Klezmer Revival' that began in the early 1980s, both in Canada and around the world. Formed by trumpeter and bandleader David Buchbinder in 1987, and now co-lead with Dave Wall, The Flying Bulgars (the Bulgar in the group's name refers to a dance form not an ethnic group) were a product of the rebirth of interest in Yiddish culture in North America.

In 2008, the group reached its 20th anniversary, and to celebrate they are releasing their sixth CD in November 2008. All new, original material with songs written for the first time in English are presented with a contemporary folk/alternative sound yet with a solid Jewish-themed foundation. Full of darkness and hope, the tunes mix poetry, anger and longing in a heady mix of Klezmer-inspired melodies. With a fully orchestrated alt-pop sound recorded with the help of Dave Newfield, the mastermind behind successful productions such as Broken Social Scene, it is a time of creative renewal for a band with intents of reinventing itself and moving towards a wider audience.

Leader, main composer and founder David Buchbinder has studied with some of the most accomplished jazz men around, from Freddie Stone to Kenny Wheeler to Muhal Richard Abrams. He is at home playing many styles of contemporary music and is breaking out as a composer of film and concert music. In addition to leading his own group, drummer Max Senitt has a focus on Latin music and has played with professionals such as Hilario Duran. Tania Gill is the pianist and composes for several jazz ensembles. Bass master, Victor Bateman recently returned to the band after a long absence, well known for his work with an almost infinite variety of jazz, folk, world and pop artists. Peter Lutek's skills as a tenor and soprano saxophonist and with the clarinet have been appreciated by several philharmonic orchestras. Lead vocalist Dave Wall came to the Flying Bulgars from the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir with whom he recorded three CDs.

The Flying Bulgars combine a love for tradition with a fearless commitment to experimentation that has drawn in fans from across Canada and internationally. From the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife to the WOMAD festival in Morcombe, England, to the Tollwood Festival in Munich, to the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York, the music is far from the traditional Klezmer found at weddings and bar mitzvahs—it is a dynamic force in Canadian contemporary World Music. The Bulgars have recorded five CDs and have received two Juno nominations, and they are still the only Klezmer band to have created a music video which received much airplay on MuchMusic.

Extended History[edit]

Rooted in Eastern Europe and the immigrant ghettos of North America, Klezmer music brought together the traditions of the Tsarist Russian military band, gypsy folk music, Hasidic religious song, and Afro-American jazz. The Flying Bulgars blend those traditions with the remarkable talents of six great musicians on trumpet, bass, drums, clarinet, piano and vocals. Formed by trumpeter and leader David Buchbinder in 1987, The Flying Bulgars (the Bulgar in the group's name refers to a dance form not an ethnic group) were a product of the rebirth of interest in Yiddish culture in North America. After the founding of Israel in 1948, the Yiddish language and the art associated with it were marginalized by many Jews for whom Yiddish represented the ghettos of Eastern Europe and the holocaust. In the fifties and sixties it was chic to sing songs in Hebrew, the language of the new Jewish state. In 1975 a group of young musicians in San Francisco, The Klezmorim, released an album called East Side Wedding and the Klezmer renaissance was on. Across North America and Europe dozens of new groups sprang up reclaiming the tradition of Eastern European Jewish music. As the term "world music" became fashionable, Klezmer music became one of its constituents. The Flying Bulgars became the most prominent Canadian members of the international Klezmer fraternity, as well as being regarded as one of the most adventurous and accomplished Klezmer groups around.

Yet at precisely the time when the band was formed something else was happening in Klezmer music. In New York a group of young adventurous musicians were taking Klezmer to the next stage. Klezmer music had always been a fusion of old and new world traditions, Polish dance tunes and jazz, Jewish tradition and Afro-American contemporary popular music. The Jewish New Wave, as it came to be called, brought funk, r&b, new music and free jazz into the mix, and The Flying Bulgars found that approach suited them just fine. While the band still performs material from the early days of Klezmer, the vast majority of its repertoire is new music written by band members. Today the band is far from the traditional Klezmer found at weddings and bar mitzvahs; it is a dynamic force in Canadian contemporary music, combining a love for tradition with a fearless commitment to experimentation.

Just as the classic Klezmer (the word means itinerant musician) of the nineteen twenties mixed everything they knew and heard to make their music, so the members of The Flying Bulgars bring their own broad musical experience to the band in its 21st century configuration. Leader, main composer and founder David Buchbinder has studied with some of the most accomplished jazz men around from Freddie Stone to Kenny Wheeler to Muhal Richard Abrams. He is at home playing many styles of contemporary music and is breaking out as a composer of film and concert music. Daniel Barnes is a highly accomplished drummer whose credits include Joe Sealey's Juno award winning Africville Suite and touring with Ethiopian diva Aster Aweke. Marilyn Lerner is involved in so many projects it is hard to list them all. A pianist of uncommon ability her love for Klezmer based music is reflected in her work with the Bulgars, her collaboration with Dave Wall on a project of contemporary Yiddish song and her membership in Both Ends of the Earth. Bob Stevenson, on clarinet and bass clarinet, brings his long experience in jazz and new music to Klezmer. In addition to ensembles like Arraymusic and Hemispheres, he conducted the 20 piece Klezmer Ashkenaz Orchestra. Bass master, Victor Bateman recently returned to the band after a long absence. Victor was the band's first bassist. He is well known for his work with an almost infinite variety of jazz, folk, world and pop artists as well as his own work as a band leader and very individual interpreter of folk music. He also leads workshops in improvisation. Dave Wall came to the Flying Bulgars from the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir with whom he recorded three CDs. Moved by a desire to focus on his Yiddish roots, Dave has become the finest singer of Yiddish song in the country.

Since their founding in 1987 The Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band has worked consistently to develop a musical language that is specific to its place and time, rooted squarely in a folk tradition while embracing the possibilities of the present. This attention to the development of a personal sound along with a highly charged performance style has opened extensive performing opportunities over the years, allowing the band tour across Canada and internationally. From the Folk on the Rocks Festival in Yellowknife to the WOMAD festival in Morcombe, England, to the Tollwood Festival in Munich, to the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival in New York.. They have recorded five CDs, which are distributed internationally and have received two Juno nominations, and are still the only klezmer band to have created a music video, which received much airplay on MuchMusic. For many years the group has been recognized for their unique approach to new Yiddish (klezmer) music, a reputation that has grown with their last several projects.

In May 2002 the Flying Bulgars performed their new show - Shekhine-Spirit in the Natural World before a sold out crowd at Toronto's Isabel Bader Theatre. This evening length concert (which featured guest artists Jane Bunnett and Alex Poch-Goldin) was the group's first truly "theatrical" presentation, melding music, poetry and visual element (stage design/video). The audience response to this show was overwhelming and inspiring.

A recording of this new work produced by David Travers-Smith and featuring new compositions by every band member, was released in June 2003. Hailed as "a sophisticated, diverse and sweet return to the studio" and "more complex than anything the Toronto ensemble has tackled before", Sweet Return marks the continued evolution of one of the Canada's most accomplished and innovative ensembles. It received a Juno nomination; the third time the band has been so honoured.

The last year has been busy for the band. In addition to many shows in their hometown of Toronto they headlined at Ottawa's Tulip Festival in May and June saw them in Nova Scotia at the Multicultural Festival in Dartmouth. In July they were at the Festival d'ete in Quebec City and the Mission and Islands folk music Festivals in BC. In October the Flying Bulgars performed in Montreal and graced soft-seat theaters in Atlantic Canada. The band started off this year with an appearance as a headliner at the Chutzpah! Jewish Music Festival in Vancouver, and was thrilled to have the performance recorded by the CBC for an upcoming radio concert series.

In 2008, the group has reached its 20th anniversary—and to celebrate: the release of their sixth CD this November. All new, original material with songs written for the first time in English are presented with a contemporary folk/alternative sound yet with a solid Jewish-themed foundation. Full of darkness and hope, the tunes mix poetry, anger and longing in a heady mix of Klezmer-inspired melodies. With a fully orchestrated alt-pop sound recorded with the help of Dave Newfield, the mastermind behind successful productions such as Broken Social Scene, it is a time of creative renewal for a band aiming to reinvent itself and move towards a wider audience.

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

  • Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band - 1990
  • Agada - 1993
  • Fire - 1996
  • Tsirkus - 1999
  • Sweet Return - 2003
  • Tumbling Into Light - 2009

References[edit]