Few hard facts are known about the influential, fakeloric Di Shikere Kapelye (pronounced deh SHICK-er-uh kuh-PEL-yuh) or Inebriated Orchestra. What little we do know comes from a variety of sources: anecdotes and oral histories with older living klezmorim (whose grandparents may have heard or played in Di Shikere Kapelye), court records of cases brought against them by dissatisfied clients and straight-laced municipal governments, obscure references, and apocryphal legends.
Their origins may lie around Odessa, or in the Trans-Carpathians, or near Minsk. Records of their appearance can be found in all those places. Always invited to perform, but never welcomed to stay in one place (perhaps due to their proclivity towards impromptu jam sessions in town squares after all the pubs had shut for the night), they traveled throughout the Pale of Settlement, the region of Russia where Jews were forced to remain.
Now, Frank London has brought together a collection of Klezmer brass allstars to recreate the music of this legendary, not-so-real ensemble on Di Shikere Kapelye (Piranha, PIR 1467). He has produced a community folk recording that captures the authentic, unsentimentalized, raw ethos of shtetl music.
Members of this “who’s who” Klezmer ensemble play with the Klezmatics, the Hasidic New Wave, Les Misérables Brass Band, the Klezmer Conservatory Band, Brave Old World, Shirim, Paradox Trio, KlezMs, the Klezmorim, Andy Statman, Michael Alpert, and countless others. Klezmatics trumpeter London has played with John Zorn, LL Cool J, Mel Torme, Itzhak Perlman, They Might Be Giants, David Byrne, Gal Costa, Marc Ribot, and Jane Siberry.Combining decades of expertise in Klezmer and brass band music in general, London’s Klezmer Brass Allstars draw on ancient traditions to reconstruct the original spirit that led to today’s Klezmer. Based on extensive research—laced with a heavy dose of guesswork and intuition—and a few smudged sheets of music found in the cellar of a tavern in Minsk, a group of the greatest living klezmorim have lovingly and painstakingly fashioned an aural docudrama of Di Shikere Kapelye and their sound and spirit.