Abraham, Inc. — a band composed of clarinetist David Krakauer, hip-hop keyboardist and vocalist Socalled and trombonist Fred Wesley — has released its debut album, Tweet Tweet, on Krakauer’s new Table Pounding Records label. Basically the disc amounts to an extremely fun and funky klezmer-based dance party.
According to Krakauer, “Ever since I formed Klezmer Madness! in the mid-1990s, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of adding funk, jazz and lately hip-hip 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 light bulb 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!’”
Backed by musicians who collaborate frequently with Krakauer and Socalled, and with the addition of Bronx rapper C-Rayz Walz, Abraham Inc. took to the road, starting with a sold-out concert at Zankel Hall in December 2006. After more than two years of touring, the group was ready to record Tweet Tweet. In addition to Krakauer, Wesley and Socalled, the core band includes guitarists Sheryl Bailey and Allen Watsky, bassist Jerome Harris and drummer Michael Sarin. The horn section is rounded out by trumpeter Freddie Hendrix and tenor saxophonist Brandon Wright, while Joshie Armstead, Matthew Flowers, Alicia Krakauer and Katie Moore guest on vocals.
“I think we came up with a killer product,” Wesley says.
Indeed, judging by the evidence at hand, that’s true. From start to finish, Tweet Tweet is a spirited, delightfully unusual affair. The disc’s nine tracks range from arrangements of classic Yiddish and klezmer tunes — like a funky version of “Hava Nagila,” titled “The H Tune” — to originals like Wesley’s “Push,” driven by a vintage chicken-scratch guitar riff, and “Fred the Tzadik,” anchored by a stuttering bass line and topped by inspired clarinet and trombone interplay from Krakauer and Wesley.
For more information, go to www.abrahamincmusic.com.
Pictured above, left to right: Fred Wesley, Socalled and David Krakauer. Photo credit: Jacqui Causey