Greensboro, N.C. — Frank London is, according to allaboutjazz.com, “the mystical high priest of New Wave Avant-Klez Jazz.’’
He teaches Klezmer, writes about Klezmer, records Klezmer, plays Yidstock at Hampshire College in Amherst, Massachusetts, and acts as the artistic director for KlezKanada.
He composes operas with Klezmer music, and he’s working with a collaborator on putting together a dance/music/poetry installation that marries a traditional Jewish story with avant-garde music.
And yes, he leads two Klezmer bands. So, London is busy. He digs deep into a tradition-rich music, and he can talk at length about the grammar, syntax, content, history and inflections of a style of music that he sees as a breathing part of our world.
But watch him when he steps onstage. The professor becomes the performer.
He’ll be in big glasses and a white suit, or he’ll be in a stylish, brimless cap of all different colors with a lavender scarf draped around his neck, and as the music builds around him, he’ll use his trumpet like a baton.Then, he’ll blow.
“I didn’t grow up with this stuff, but when you hear this music it puts you in a place that is so powerful and it immediately embraces this whole culture, this whole picture,’’ he says. “It’s the devil in the details, and you start to think ‘What is the source?’ That is the fun exploration in the best possible way.”
Catch London at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro Sept. 11-13, 2015.