and Composer Aaron Alexander is a New York City based klezmer
and jazz drummer, composer, bandleader and educator. His original
klezmer/jazz/world music band "Midrash
Mish Mosh" has been acclaimed by critics, musicians
and fans, and has appeared in respected venues in New York City,
(Makor, Knitting Factory, Satalla, Live on WNYC's New Sounds
with John Schaefer, and others) as well as Krakow, Poland; Vienna,
Austria; and Toronto, Ontario. Over the past two decades, Alexander's
performances and recordings with Hasidic New Wave, BABKAS(with
Brad Shepik & Briggan Krauss), The Klezmatics, Greg
Wall, Alicia Svigals, Satoko Fujii Orchestra, Ray Musiker, Tronzo
Trio, Jay Clayton, Margot Leverett, Timebone, Alex Kontorovich,
Freeplay, German Goldenshteyn, Boban Markovic' Orkestar, and
Frank London's Klezmer Brass All-Stars have brought his music
to the ears of listeners all over the world.
has toured extensively in North and South America and Europe
with many different groups. He has appeared on Prairie Home
Companion with the Klezmatics, BET Live with Hasidic New Wave,
performed music for theatre at Joseph Papp Public Theater, Seattle
Rep Theater, Arena Stage in Wash. DC and LaMama Etc. Alexander
has composed and performed music for Dance and conceived and
produced Hasidic New Wave's acclaimed collaboration with Senegalese
Sabar ensemble Yakar Rhythms. He has received composition grants
from the Seattle Arts Commission and Meet The Composer Foundation.
His collective band Timebone, in 1990 won an Earshot Jazz award
for "Best Acoustic Jazz Group."
has appeared at many of the top Jazz and World Music Festivals
and Venues, including Krakow Festival of Jewish Culture, Lincoln
Center, Chicago World Music Festival, Pitchfork Festival, JVC
Jazz Festival, Bumbershoot, North Sea Jazz Festival, Vancouver
Jazz Festival, Royal Festival Hall in London, Berlin Jazz Festival,
Ring Ring Festival (Belgrade), Festival International de Jazz
de Montreal, Ashkenaz Festival in Toronto, Pori Jazz Festival
(Finland), New Morning in Paris, Lincoln Center, Pepsi Sziget
Festival (Budapest), San Francisco Jazz Festival, Earshot Jazz
Festival, Moods in Zurich, Porgy and Bess in Vienna, Concertgebouw
in Amsterdam, and festivals in Argentina, Brazil, England, Norway,
Finland, The Netherlands, Portugal, Latvia, Slovakia, Croatia,
Italy, France, Belgium, and Springfield, IL. Alexander is on
the teaching faculty at Klez Kamp, Klez Kanada and had taught
at Yiddish Summer Weimar and other venues. Alexander
grew up in Seattle and moved to NYC in 1993.
has accompanied many of the biggest names in Jewish music on
various events run by Workmen's Circle, Circle Lodge, Klez Kamp,
Klez Kanada and other organizations. He has performed with such
luminaries as Claire Barry (of
the Barry Sisters), Pete Sokolow, Cantors Alberto Mizrahi
and Benzion Miller, Theodore Bikel, Joanne Borts, Adrienne Cooper,
Zalmen Mlotek, Tovah Feldshuh, Mina Bern, Avi Hoffman, Bob Abelson,
Fyvush Finkel, Eleanor Reissa, Bruce
Adler, and many others.
Alexander has worked in the Jazz and Creative Music with
James Knapp's Composers and Improvisers Orchestra('84-5), Natsuki
Tamura, Myth Science (w/Anthony Coleman)('95-6), Dave Tronzo Trio('96-7),
Jay Clayton/Jim Knapp Collective ('89-93), Julian Priester, J.
Anthony Granelli, Mose Allison, Kirk Nurock, Rob Henke, Peter
Epstein, Michael Bisio, Wayne Horvitz, Steve Bernstein, Chris
Speed, Jessica Williams, Janice Friedman, Charlie Byrd & many
an all original jazz CD in 2003
(Aaron Alexander Sextet "Blues for Sparky") about which
Cadence writer Charles Winokur wrote "Seattle based drummer/composer
Aaron Alexander is doubly blessed: He's a fine drummer and an
arranger not afraid to try different things..."
Midrash Mish Mosh
was released in late -2004 on the Tzadik label, run by composer/saxophonist
John Zorn. The CD has received a lot of positive reviews and the
band has been enthusiastically received by many audiences in NYC,
Krakow, Vienna & Toronto.
Alexander has appeared
on over 50 CDs and his compositions have appeared on many of them,
including CDs by Babkas (3 CDs on Songlines), Hasidic New Wave(4
CDs on Knitting Factory & Nottwo), Jay Clayton/Jim Knapp Collective(CDs
on ITM Pacific and Sunnyside), Klezmerfest, The Kleztraphobix,
Freeplay, and of course his CDs as a leader.
grew up in Seattle, played classical violin from the ages of 4
thru 12, attended Eckstein Middle School, Nova and Roosevelt High
School where the jazz band was led by the renowned Waldo King.
Waldo really turned Aaron on to jazz music as a way of life and
forever changed his direction. The following year Alexander began
private studies with Jerry Granelli through Cornish College of
the Arts. When he finished high school he attended Cornish and
studied with Granelli, Jay Clayton, Julian Priester, James Knapp,
and Randy Halberstadt. He attended the Banff Centre's Jazz Intensive
in 1988 where he studied with Dave Holland, Marvin Smith, Anthony
Davis, Muhal Richard Abrams and Pat LaBarbera. He has studied
drums privately with Jerry Granelli, Sam Ulano, Gerry Hemingway,
Bob Moses, Joe Morello, Victor Lewis, Woody Pierce and Mike Clark.
His first big break came when, in his freshman
year at Cornish, his college ensemble instructor, Jim Knapp, asked
him to play in his Composers and Improvisors Orchestra
on a group of concerts in 1984-85. This gave him an opportunity
to share the bandstand with such jazz greats as Carla Bley, Julian
Priester, Hadley Caliman, Marc Seales and many other wonderful
Alexander was active in the Seattle scene
and co-founded the group Timebone in 1988 along with J. Anthony
Granelli, Arnold Hammerschlag, and Briggan Krauss. Timebone made
two recordings and was named "Best Acoustic Jazz Group, 1990"
by the renowned Northwest Jazz Organization Earshot Jazz.
Aaron and Brigganperformed as a duo as well, making one recording,
and doing a concert which was supported by a grant from the Seattle
In 1985-86 Aaron dropped out of Cornish
and went on the road with a talented young 'show' band called
5th Avenue. They played 5 sets a night, 6 nights a weeks for much
of those two years, giving the 19 year old Alexander a solid grounding
in the world of a working musician. The band was founded by four
great singers from Edmonds Community College plus a rhythm section.
They played jazz standards, Lambert, Hendricks & Ross and
Hi Lo's-style jazz vocal arrangements, show medleys (Motown, Beatles,
50s, 60s, Elvis, Hi-Tops, Billy Joel, etc.), and Top 40. After
a couple years of touring the Northwest, Alexander returned to
Seattle to continue his education and focus on creative music.
Aaron was a member of the group Jay Clayton/Jim
Knapp Collective which was very active in Seattle in the early
1990's, recording a CD "Tito's Acid Trip" and performing
regionally, as well as hosting a weekly series for two years "Live
at the Bathhouse Theater". The Collective was the host group
and would bring in guest artists every week to perform new pieces
in collaboration. The artists were interdisciplinary and included
musicians, dancers, actors and visual artists. Some of the artists
he had an opportunity to collaborate and perform with in this
context include Stuart Dempster, Skinner Releasing Dance Company,
Roberta Maguire, Andy Shaw & Christian Swenson, Bert Wilson,
Julian Priester. Members of the Collective, including Aaron, also
were part of recording by Jay Clayton entitled "Circle Dancing,"
which was released on the Sunnyside label.
Aaron joined the klezmer & Jewish music
group The Mazeltones in 1989 and recorded two CDs with the group,
toured in California, New York, and Omaha, and performed countless
concerts, simchas, and schools with them. This was his introduction
to klezmer music which has become one of his great passions.
Alexander first performed
in New York with Jay Clayton, at Visiones and Condon's in 1990,
during a trip in which they also performed in Woodstock and Boston.
Alexander moved to New York in 1993 where he was introduced to the
New York scene by friends from Seattle, including Brad Shepik and
Mike Sarin. He soon became active on the downtown scene and the
group Babkas, of which he was a a member along with Shepik and Briggan
Krauss, began to garner notice nationally and abroad. Babkas made
three full length CDs on the Songlines label and toured Europe in
1995 and 1997 as well as a few times in the U.S.
Alexander played in a group
called Klez-Jazz, with Burton Greene and Perry Robinson, at the
West End Gate for about a year, one of his first regular gigs in
New York. He also played various gigs around New York with such
artists as Eli Yamin, JEIGH, Peter Epstein, Kai Bruckner, Chris
Speed, Snowy Sheep of Rome, Sex Mob, Curtis Hasselbring, and some
Alexander was invited to
join the Sun Ra tribute group Myth Science, led by Reuben Radding,
and including Anthony Coleman, Briggan Krauss and Tim Otto, in 1995.
He played every Saturday for a year with Myth Science at the Tap
Bar in the Knitting Factory, and the band culminated the experience
with a crazy Knitting Factory sponsored European tour in 1996.
In 1996 Alexander was invited
by The Klezmatics to replace founding drummer David Licht for a
three week tour in Europe when Licht was to have his first child,
Jacob. This began a long association where Alexander performed with
the Klezmatics on scores of dates in Europe, South America and the
U.S. He has performed with the Klezmatics at the Joseph
Papp Public Theatre, Town Hall, Royal Festival Hall (London), live
television and radio shows, including Prairie Home Companion, and
live recordings in Germany and Italy. He appears as a guest on their
CD 'Shteyt Oyf - Rise Up'.
Also in 1996 Greg Wall and
Frank London asked Alexander to join the group Hasidic New Wave,
along with guitarist David Fiuczynski and bassist Kenny Davis. Davis
moved to L.A. to join the Tonight Show band and was replaced by
Fima Ephron in 1997. The group has made 5 full length CDs together
and their last, "From the Belly of Abraham" - a collaboration
with Senegalese sabar drum group Yakar Rhythms - was conceived and
co-produced by Alexander. Hasidic New Wave has toured extensively
in the US and Europe.
In October, 1996 Aaron was
invited to join Dave Tronzo and Stomu Takeishi for a three week
tour in Europe and several dates in New York.
In 1997 Aaron was invited
by Greg Wall, Jordan Hirsch, Zevy Zions and Brian Glassman to join
the group Klezmerfest! which was active playing klezmer music in
schools in the New York/New Jersey area. Klezmerfest since then
has become a concert group as well and has a great CD entitled "Party
Frank London asked Aaron
to join his Klezmer Brass All-Stars in 2001 and Aaron has toured
and recorded with them in North America, Europe, and Brazil. A collaboration
with the Serbian Roma group Boban Markovic Orkestar has been a highlight
of this experience. Alexander has appeard on the CDs Brotherhood
of Brass and 'Carnival Conspiracy', both on Piranha Records.
Greg Wall and Aaron Alexander
perform as a duo, and they have performed at the Knitting Factory,
Makor and the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Greg, Aaron, and keyboard
phenom Shai Bachar recorded a CD for Tzadik entitled "Later
Prophets" which was released in March, 2004.
Alexander has performed in
the North America and Europe with Greg
Wall's Later Prophets, Hasidic
New Wave, Frank London's
Klezmer Brass All-Stars, The
Klezmatics, Babkas (with
Brad Shepik & Briggan Krauss), Dave Tronzo Trio, Jay
Clayton, Freeplay, Rob
Frayne & Chelsea Bridge, and Myth Science, and has also
recorded or performed with Natsuki Tamura, Satoko Fuji Orchestra,
Jim Knapp's Composers & Improvisers Orchestra, Julian Priester,
Mose Allison, Charlie Byrd, Wayne Horvitz, Michael Bisio, David
Krakauer's Klezmer Madness, The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Klezmerfest,
Andy Shaw, The Mazeltones, and many more.
Alexander has led his own
groups in the last several years, and played some nice gigs at New
York clubs and festivals. Aaron Alexander's RaggedyTime
Band was a large group, including some of the fine musicians
of his generation, and special guests. The RaggedyTime Band at one
time or another included Andrew D'Angelo, Briggan Krauss, Peter
Epstein, Arnold Hammerschlag, Curtis Hasselbring, J. Anthony Granelli,
Michael Sarin, David Tronzo, Anthony Coleman, John Schott, Jamie
Saft, Andrea Parkins, Ted Reichman. Unfortunately they never made
Later there was a quartet
which he called Aaron Alexander & Musicians,
which played at the Texaco Jazz Festival, the Knitting Factory,
and the Bell Atlantic Jazz Festival - all really through the Knit.
The band included Cuong Vu, Jamie Saft and Stomu Takeishi. A few
recordings were made, including a decent live recording from the
Old Office, but it was never commercially released. Send Aaron an
email if you're interested in hearing it.
Aaron recorded CD of his
original jazz music entitled "Blues for Sparky". The
Aaron Alexander Sextet plays a collecton of Alexander's
jazz tunes, more straight ahead than other projects, focused on
group arrangements, presenting the melody and harmony clearly, with
short but great solos. This classic sounding jazz sextet includes
some members of Greg Wall's Simcha All-Stars, who also play a lot
in the New York/New Jersey area at weddings and other functions,
and have developed a great rapport over several years together.
"Midrash Mish Mosh"
was released in late 2004 on the Tzadik label.
Mr. Alexander, in addition
to performing creative music in the concert and club setting, performs
at weddings and events in the N.Y.
area and beyond, performs regularly with an acclaimed Klez-for-Kids
show developed by Greg Wall, and maintains an active teaching