Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Dave Tarras on UK Columbia

I have dozens of 78s, LPs, and CDs by the great klezmer clarinetist Dave Tarras, but none is more beautiful than this 1927 pairing on English Columbia. Tarras emigrated to the United States from Russia in 1920, and quickly established himself as the foremost clarinetist on the Jewish music scene, rivaled only by Natfule Brandwein. I think of these two clarinetists as the klezmer equivalents of New Orleans jazz clarinetists Jimmie Noone and Johnny Dodds - Noone and Tarras were technically accomplished, controlled players, while Dodds and Brandwein were rougher and more unpredictable.

Here Tarras plays "Rumenishe Doina" and "A Rumenisher Nigun." A doina is an improvised rubato cadenza, usually leading into a dance number or medley. "Nigun" simply means "melody," and "Rumenishe" indicates the Romanian origin of these pieces. Tarras excelled at playing doinas, and he is at his best here.

Not only is the music wonderful, but the record itself is interesting as an object. It was issued on Columbia in the United States, but my copy is an English Columbia issue apparently imported into Israel (or Palestine at that time). One side has a sticker from a Tel-Aviv record store.

Here is the klezmer artistry of Dave Tarras at his best, recorded in April, 1927 in New York.

Rumenishe Doina

A Rumenisher Nigun


  1. this has been one of my long time faves,do you have any other columbias by him

    1. No - I've got a couple of mid-40s RCA Victors, one on Standard, and three of the four Savoy klezmer/swing records.