APRIL 12, 2018 – GLOUCESTER – The eclectic musical amalgam that is the Andy Statman Trio builds from a klezmer-infused foundation, adds jazz progressions and syncopation, and mixes it up with bluegrass riffs and rhythms. That’s the music that Statman will be bringing to a special concert at Temple Ahavat Achim in Gloucester at 7:30 p.m. on May 2.
Joined by two regulars, bassist Jim Whitney and percussionist Larry Eagle, Statman plays a syncretic repertoire that blends the sacred and the secular that is often deeply emotional, from the foot-tapping highs of classic klezmer to heart-rending originals that touch the soul.
Statman – who has been called a “national musical treasure,” a “musician’s musician,” and “an American visionary” – is a virtuoso on both the mandolin and the clarinet. Following in the footsteps of his teacher and mentor, klezmer legend David Tarras, Statman favors old-style clarinets with an archaic keying that facilitates the glides, trills, and pitch-bending antics so characteristic of klezmer music. The mandolin, so often stereotyped as a strumming accompanist, becomes a virtuoso soloist in Statman’s hands. His light and lightning-fast fingering borrows technique from the banjo and guitar that were his first instruments, enabling him to coax new nuance and fresh effects from this classic instrument.
Statman, who grew up in Queens, comes from a musical lineage peppered with cantors, composers, and musicians. He took up the banjo and guitar at the age of 12 and later switched to the mandolin after studying with mandolin master David Grisman. As a teenager, Statman already was getting gigs with local bands in the New York area.
His musical studies and influences are exceptionally broad, including the folk music of Albania, Greece, and Azerbaijan. Still, the spiritual and ecstatic elements of klezmer and Chasidic melodies are the centerpiece of much of his repertoire, which includes reinterpretations of traditional pieces and innovative originals. In 2012, he was honored for his diverse contributions by being named a National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Statman has played and toured with many of the greats of the modern musical scene, from Béla Fleck and the Flecktones to Bob Dylan and Jerry Garcia, from Country Music Hall of Famer Ricky Skaggs to concert appearances with Itzhak Perlman.
These days, the trio plays regularly around New York City with a continued presence at the Charles Street Synagogue (Congregation Darech Amuno). It has toured nationally, playing at venues ranging from Oberlin College in Ohio to Cambridge’s own storied Club Passim.
Statman has recorded more than 30 discs spanning nearly four decades, starting with his first album, “Jewish Klezmer Music,” that quickly became an influential part of the so-called klezmer revival of the 1970s. His extensive discography includes original compositions and new takes on old masterpieces deeply infused with Jewish themes and influences.
For Statman, his personal journey from a secular upbringing into a richer reconnection with his Jewish heritage and religious roots is deeply connected with his musical journey. The results of are a music of soul and substance, both entertaining and elevating.
Tickets for the May 2 concert at Temple Ahavat Achim, 86 Middle St. in Gloucester, are $36 for preferred seating, $18 for general admission. For
tickets and information, visit taagloucester.org or call the temple at 978-282-0739.