The Maxwell Street Klezmer band is a 10-piece ensemble, started in 1983. The leader, Lori Lippitz, was influenced by the Klezmorim (of Berkeley, California) whom she heard in the mid-70s on a Chicago radio show called The Midnight Special. After graduate school at the University of Chicago, Lippitz devoted herself to creating a revival of klezmer music in the Chicago Jewish community by founding a klezmer band that could serve in the traditional role of entertaining at weddings and bar mitzvah parties. In 1990, Russian violinist Alex Koffman became the band's arranger and Musical Director. In its 26-year history, the band recorded five CDs* and played at eight European festivals, mostly in Germany. The most prestigious concerts were at Carnegie Hall and the Barbican in London (1998). The band has shared the stage with Theo Bikel, Peter Yarrow and Debbie Friedman. In 2008, Lori's old school friend Rabbi Joe Black collaborated on a Hanukkah-themed recording called Eight Nights of Joy (Sounds Write Productions). The band's plans as of 2010 are to revive the Yiddish Arts Ensemble production "Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins" and tour it, and to expand the integration of traditional Jewish dance at weddings with New York-born Dance Master Steve Weintraub.
*Maxwell Street Days (1986), Sweet Early Years (1992), You Should Be So Lucky! (1996), Old Roots New World (2000), Eight Nights of Joy with Rabbi Joe Black (2008).
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