How we Came To Be
An unprecedented collaboration between three cultural visionaries: DAVID KRAKAUER, champion of klezmer music and world-class clarinetist; legendary funk trombonist and arranger FRED WESLEY, celebrated for his work with James Brown and George Clinton; and hip-hop renegade and beat architect SOCALLED – Abraham Inc. heralds a time when boundaries are eroding, mutual respect is presumed, and musical traditions can hit with full force without concession or appropriation. Backed by a three-piece horn section led by Wesley, plus musicians who collaborate frequently with Krakauer and Socalled – and the result is an all-out klezmer-funk dance party!
Says Krakauer, “Ever since I formed Klezmer Madness! in the mid 1990's I've been exploring the possibilities of adding funk, jazz, and lately hip-hop influences to klezmer… These explorations logically led me to my collaboration with Socalled, a kindred spirit in the search for that magic place where these styles can find a commonality of ecstatic trance.
“In late 2005, Socalled and I were on tour somewhere in Europe when [Klezmer Madness!] drummer Michael Sarin mentioned to Socalled that a friend of his was playing with Fred Wesley. A lightbulb went off in our heads… I got in touch with Fred and we met up in New York - at the Carnegie Deli, where we had matzoh ball soup - and decided to try playing together… We booked a rehearsal studio, not quite sure what was going to happen. Fred and I improvised together on a beat by Socalled, and at the end of it we all said to each other, ‘Wow, this totally works!'”
Says Wesley, “I think we came up with a killer product. It is a pleasure doing something different with such dynamic musicians as Josh and David. Our talents were stretched to areas that we couldn't have imagined reaching alone. We all inspired one another.”
As Socalled sees it, Abraham Inc. is about “bringing people together with music, celebrating differences and commonalities… Cultural hybrid vigour in yo’face.”
Widely considered one of the greatest clarinetists on the planet, Grammy and Juno nominated soloist, band leader and composer David Krakauer has been praised internationally as a key innovator in modern klezmer as well as a major voice in classical music.
Krakauer's incredible journey has lead him to an astounding diversity of projects and collaborations ranging from solo appearances with orchestras to major festival concerts with his own improvisation-based bands. He has shared the stage with a virtual who's-who of artists such as the Klezmatics, Itzhak Perlman, Uri Caine, Leonard Slatkin, the Kronos Quartet and Iva Bitova.
Krakauer's bands Ancestral Groove and Abraham Inc (which he co-leads with Socalled and Fred Wesley) tour and appear at major festivals internationally. His latest project, "Breath and Hammer" with renowned South African pianist Kathleen Tagg, yet again re-contextualizes Krakauer’s sound in a completely different way by adding loops, samples and extended techniques to the acoustic duo of clarinet and piano.
Krakauer’s discography contains some of the most important clarinet recordings of recent decades, including The Dreams and Prayers of Isaac the Blind (Osvaldo Golijov and the Kronos Quartet/Nonesuch – which received the Diapason D'Or); The Twelve Tribes (Label Bleu – jazz album of the year for the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik), Klezmer, NY (Tzadik), and Checkpoint (Label Bleu/Table Pounding Records).
An esteemed educator, David Krakauer is on the clarinet and chamber music faculties of the Manhattan School of Music, the Mannes College of Music (New School), The Bard Conservatory, and NYU.
Born in Columbus, Georgia, and raised in Mobile, Ala., FRED WESLEY began his career as a teenage trombonist with Ike and Tina Turner. He later was music director, arranger, trombonist and a primary composer for James Brown from 1968-1975, then arranged for and played with Parliament-Funkadelic and Bootsy’s Rubber Band.
With Brown and as leader of his backing band The JBs, Wesley “was the world's most famous sideman, orchestrating the sinuous grooves and contributing the bold, surgically precise solos that defined the language of funk.” In teaming with George Clinton and Bootsy Collins, he played a key role in taking funk to the next level. Wesley is featured in the documentary film “Soul Power,” as well as the Oscar-winning “When We Were Kings” and countless other documentaries about James Brown and funk music.
Seminal hits he helped create include Brown’s and the JBs’ “Big Payback” and “Pass the Peas.” Others include Parliament’s “P-Funk” and Bootsy’s “Stretching Out.”
Author of the acclaimed memoir, “Hit Me, Fred: Recollections of a Side Man” (Duke University Press 2002), Wesley is one of music’s most-sampled musicians. Artists who have sampled his work include Janet Jackson (“That’s The Way Love Goes”) and Nas (“Nastradamus”).
A veteran of the Count Basie Orchestra, Wesley also has worked with a who’s who of other artists including Ray Charles, Pancho Sanchez, Van Morrison, Usher, the SOS Band and Cameo, as well as with his close friends and cohorts Maceo Parker and Pee Wee Ellis.
Today, he plays and records with his own jazz-funk band, the New JBs, and is one-third of the innovative “klezmer-funk” collaboration Abraham Inc. He also freelances as an arranger, producer and studio performer, and shares his wealth of musical knowledge with young musicians and music students in educational settings worldwide.
Josh “Socalled” Dolgin is a pianist, singer, accordionist, producer, composer and rapper based in Montreal, Quebec. He has lectured and led master classes in music festivals around the world, from Moscow to Paris, from London to LA, and from Krakow to San Francisco, and has performed on every continent.
With 8 solo albums to his name, he has performed all over the world for more than 15 years, and his list of collaborators knows no generational, social, cultural or religious boundaries. Aside from countless festivals and venues around the world, Socalled has performed at Carnegie Hall (twice!), the Olympia in Paris, the Apollo theatre in Harlem and the Arsht centre in Miami. He has played with, produced for, featured, recorded and arranged for Gonzales, Itzhak Perlman, Lhasa, Fred Wesley, Andy Statman, Adam Cohen, Boban Markovic, the Mighty Sparrow, Roxanne Shante, Irving Fields, Killah Priest, Matisyahu, Ben Caplan, Theodore Bikel, Jack Stratton from Vulfpeck, Enrico Macias and Derrick Carter.
Dolgin was the subject of The Socalled Movie, a 2010 feature documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada which features his video for “You Are Never Alone” which garnered over 3 million views on Youtube. HIs remix of the theme for CBC’s flagship news digest “As It Happens” plays 3 times a day across Canada. He tours with his full band Socalled and performs with string quartets around the world with a program of Yiddish songs.
He has written and presented 4 musical comedies, “Tales From Odessa”, a Yiddish gangster musical, as well as 3 of a projected 4 part magnum puppet opus called “The Season”, for which he also designed and built the puppets. Always active doing special projects, he created several podcast themesongs, film soundtracks, released an indie erotica film and created a special program using first world war archives at the Weimar festival of Yiddish culture. He was a professor in Concordia’s Theatre program. In December 2015, Socalled was presented with the “Adrienne Cooper Memorial Dreaming in Yiddish” award for his work disseminating and exploring Yiddish culture.
When he’s not in the studio or on the road, Socalled does magic tricks, makes cookbooks, draws cartoons, edits video and practices Kurt Weill on the piano.
A magical mashup of musical traditions, Abraham Inc. unites three masters of their respective realms to create an irresistible new thing. It’s an inspiring, unexpected, danceable and delightful synergy of klezmer, anchored by world-renowned clarinet virtuoso David Krakauer; hip hop celebrated by the sampler-wielding, Canadian renaissance artist Socalled; and funk from Fred Wesley, one of the legendary architects of that genre.
David Krakauer*: Clarinet and vocals
Fred Wesley*: Trombone and vocals
Socalled*: Piano, Sampler, Organ, Vocals, Rap Vox
*= Performed on the Tweet Tweet recording
ABRAHAM INC. FAMILY OF MUSICIANS PAST & PRESENT
Guitar: Sheryl Bailey*, Allen Watsky*
Electric Bass: Jerome Harris*(+ vocals), Nicki Parrott
Drums: Michael Sarin*
Rap Vox: C-Rayz Walz*, Taron Benson, Radar Ellis, Fat Tony
Vocals: Joshie Armstead*, Katie Moore*, Alicia Krakauer*, Matthew Flowers*
Tenor Saxophone: Brandon Wright*, Phillip Whack, Alex Coke, Jay Rodriguez
Trumpet: Freddie Hendrix*, Igmar Thomas, Gary Winters, Eddie Allen
Accordion: Will Holshouser* (guest overdub)