Checkpoint (Table Pounding Records)

Krakauer’s Ancestral Groove

Released in April, 2016

DownBeat Five-Star Review




For over two decades, world-renowned clarinetist David Krakauer has been reinventing and remixing the Jewish music of his ancestry with the sensibility of a contemporary musician strongly informed by funk, jazz and hip-hop.

Starting with his work with The Klezmatics and then his early recordings on John Zorn’s Radical Jewish Culture imprint, Krakauer has forged an incomparable musical path that’s included landmark collaborations with luminaries like funk legend Fred Wesley, the Kronos Quartet, beat-wizard Socalled, leading symphony orchestras, rappers, celebrated composers, and musicians of all kinds. Krakauer’s band Ancestral Groove represents the next step in this unique musical evolution. Here’s Krakauer remixing Krakauer, hitting the road with his unmistakable sound, new arrangements of his signature repertoire and an electrifying 4-piece band.

Track Listing:

1. Kickin’ It for You (Jeremy Flower / David Krakauer) 5:42

2. Krakowsky Boulevard (David Krakauer) 5:36

3. Tribe Number Thirteen (David Krakauer) 5:12

4. Checkpoint Lounge (David Krakauer) 4:59

5. Elijah Walks In (David Krakauer) 5:37

6. Moldavian Voyage 4:41

7. Synagogue Wail (David Krakauer) 3:29

8. Border Town Pinball Machine (Jeremy Flower / David Krakauer) 5:32

9. Tandal 4:09

10. Tribe Number Thirteen (David Krakauer) 5:22


David Krakauer: clarinet

Sheryl Bailey: electric guitar

Jerome Harris: electric bass

Michael Sarin: drums

Jeremy Flower (a.k.a. Keepalive): sampler

Rob Curto: accordion (8)

John Medeski: organ (3)

Marc Ribot: electric guitar (5)

Recorded September 11-12, 2015, in New York, N.Y. at FLUX Studios, except track 3 recorded at Potterville International Sound, NY; track 7 recorded at Consecrated Church Of The Sacred Heart, Fall River, Mass.; tracks 9-10 recorded live at The Stone

Produced by David Krakauer

Recorded by Marc Urselli, Jamie Saft (3), Jesse Lewis (7) and James Dellatacoma (9, 10)

Mastered by Dominick Maita and James Dellatacoma (9, 10)

Mixed by Marc Urselli and James Dellatacoma (9, 10)

Design: GraphicTherapy


Clarinetist David Krakauer’s Checkpoint is a tonic for the troops, an exceptional album that scrambles genres to novel and winning effect. It’s unforgettably melodic and so infectious you feel like you’re part of Krakauer’s embracing musical tribe. Ancestral Groove is Krakauer’s intensely rhythmic, sonically fearless core quintet. Guitarist Marc Ribot, organist John Medeski and accordionist Rob Curto add guest flavor on one track apiece. But the ineffably cosmopolitan Krakauer is the star, effortlessly threading his heartfelt lines through densely arranged, incredibly hard-rocking tracks like the two versions of “Tribe Number Thirteen,” John Zorn’s manic “Tandal” and the crazy, exhilarating “Border Town Pinball Machine.” Krakauer’s music incorporates jazz, rock, klezmer, electronica, even liturgy. One highlight of this brilliantly sequenced disc is “Synagogue Wail,” a keening Krakauer solo recorded in a church in Fall River, Massachusetts. Overblowing, breathing circularly, pressing his diaphragm into otherworldly duty, Krakauer holds his final note so long that it creates an aural nimbus long after it fades away. If spirituality is one of Checkpoint’s goals, so is affirmation. This album is in effect a musical travelogue, documenting Krakauer’s response to the border crossings he had to make as he traced the steps of his Russian Jewish ancestors. Blending cultural strains, Krakauer fuses his history into his present, creating music of timeless joy and depth.

Carlo Wolf (DownBeat)