The Amsterdam Klezmer Band’s roots grow both from the streets and the music-conservatory. The band loves tradition and innovation, blows down festival tents, the roof off concert halls and draws tears in theaters. The AKB has been active in making music for more than 25 years.
The music of the Amsterdam Klezmer Band is a vibrant mix of klezmer, balkan, ska, jazz, gipsy, oriental and hip hop. It is an energetic mix of styles that is guaranteed to lead to a big party in any live situation.
In over more than twenty-five years, this group of Amsterdam musicians has grown into a well-oiled, internationally renowned, seven-piece klezmer phenomenon. Anyone who expects a traditional evening based on the name will be in for a shock. Because the AKB has forged it’s own sound, in which their own work is enhanced with rap, electronics or a ripping sax.
The Amsterdam Klezmer Band inspires worldwide. Bands are popping up in South America covering AKB songs. What distinguishes the AKB from many other Balkan and klezmer bands is the way in which the band, versatile and always developing, keep on managing to give its music a new meaning. The band’s music is always open to deviant or pleasantly disruptive musical influences. That’s why the band sounds fresh and exciting, and they get that back from the audience. The band’s mission is simple: Celebrating life with music together with as many different people as possible. The Amsterdam Klezmer Band makes no distinction between genres, styles, origins, religion, or politics.
And that approach proves to work well in many countries. The band not only played at major festivals in Europe such as Lowlands, North Sea Jazz Festival and Sziget, but they also played at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, the Wiener Konzerthaus, the Cité de la Musique in Paris and at the jazz festival in Hong Kong. Festivals, theaters, stages, concert halls, bars or simply in the open air on the street, no stage is too big or too small.
The original line-up of the band consists of Job Chajes (sax and raps), Janfie van Strien (clarinet, percussion), Gijs Levelt (Trumpet), Joop van der Linden (trombone and guitar), Jasper de Beer (Bass), Theo van Tol (accordion) and Alec Kopyt (percussion and vocals). Theo van Tol unfortunately passed away in 2023 and was succeeded by Ellen van Vliet.
The AKB discography can be found at: https://akb-test.hordijk.website/music/
18 albums have now been released. They entered into collaboration with Söndörgő, Amsterdam Andalusian Orchestra, Galata Gypsy Band and many others. Soundtracks have been released for, among others, the film “le Chat du Rabbin” by Joann Sfar and music for the nature documentary “De Wilde Stad”.
With this impressive musical portfolio and the position the band has acquired, the AKB feels responsible for maintaining and passing on the Klezmer tradition. In that context, the Amsterdam Klezmer Academy was founded in 2023 (with support from the AFK). A new website was released (www.amsterdamklezmeracademy.com), where education plays an important role. The band members’ years of musical experience in the field of Balkan and klezmer are now shared with the world through tutorial videos. The intricacies of klezmer are all explained here. The AKB play-along book with sheet music and play-along tracks was also published in 2023.
The most recent album Bomba Pop was released at the beginning of 2024. An album on which the Amsterdam Klezmer Band collaborated with Ulf Lindemann aka Dunkelbunt, a German DJ-producer living in Vienna who has made his mark playing, producing and remixing various styles of world music. The result is a vibrant musical compass that spreads out to many musical directions, with the red klezmer thread connecting everything in an inimitable way.
There will be a lot of live playing in 2024. The band will tour the Netherlands in February and March, and in the spring Germany, France and the United Kingdom will be on the agenda in addition to more Dutch concerts. For an overview of the planned concerts, visit: https://akb-test.hordijk.website/tour-list/
It should be clear; After 25 years, the Amsterdam Klezmer Band is still alive and current. We work with great inspiration on new music, new live shows, tradition, innovation, and safeguarding tradition.
This opinion is shared by leading journalists in the Netherlands:
‘The band excels – individually and as a team – in pieces that oscillate between wistful melancholy and exuberant cheerfulness.’ – Trouw
‘Amsterdam Klezmer Band is shaking things up; … firmly founded in craft and technique, with an overwhelming rapidity and lightness.’ – Het Parool
‘Amsterdam Klezmer Band stands for a contemporary approach to Klezmer that takes you along and inspires you, combines dance and party with melancholy and contemplation.’ – Written in Music