by Jarrett Hoffman
By age 30, clarinetist David Krakauer began to feel that he was missing something in his life. He had already developed a high-level career as a chamber musician, including winning the Naumburg Award with the Aspen Wind Quintet. But he found himself thinking of the jazz playing he had left behind in his early twenties.
“There was this moment where I thought, wow, I kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater,” Krakauer told me during a recent phone call. “I wanted to get back to improvising and playing ‘off the page.’”
He took an interest in klezmer music, “almost as a hobby,” he said, and started doing small gigs at Jewish community centers. “I was suddenly learning all about the Jewishness that I hadn’t really known I had. There was a shock of recognition in playing that music — I thought, this sounds like the strong Yiddish accent of my grandmother. I felt like I had come home in a way.”