KlezmerQuerque 2018

Bio Margot Leverett


Margot Leverett is one of the foremost of the new generation of klezmer clarinetists. The protege of the famed Klezmer clarinetist Sid Beckerman and classically trained at Indiana University School of Music, Margot was involved in avant-garde music when she first heard klezmer, the dynamic East European music traditionally played at Jewish weddings.  Leverett was a founding member of the Klezmatics in 1985 and Mikveh in 1999.  She started her own band "Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys" in 2001. Her solo CD, "The Art of Klezmer Clarinet," was released in 2001 on Traditional Crossroads (CD4296) to glowing reviews.

Margot has performed and taught traditional and original klezmer music at festivals and workshops around the world.  She was featured as a guest soloist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, along with Udi Bar-David and the artists of Intercultural Journeys, a concert and cultural organization to promote intercultural dialogue.  Leverett toured Japan twice with The New York Ragtime Orchestra and was featured in several Off-Broadway productions.

Solo CD Reviews

This is classic sound of Eastern European-derived clarinet played by a master and a worthy addition to the new generation of klezmer recording Stacy Phillips, Rootsworld 2000 "..she lived up to the exceptional promise of her album, solidly establishing herself among the stellar soloists on the scene. Elijah Wald, Boston Globe, January 20, 2000.

We tend to dance when we experience this CD. Ari Davidow, The Klezmer shack, Internet: www.klezmershack.com  January 1, 2000.

Margot Leverett, whose playing I have always enjoyed, showed that she is the equal of any clarinet player today. Ari Davidow, The Klezmer Shack, Internet August 2, 1998.

Her haunting riffs, echoing with tears and mocking laughter, evoked memories of the shtetls of Eastern Europe, where klezmer originated. Leonard W. Boasberg, The Philadelphia Inquirer, October 29, 1996.

I particularly enjoyed Margot Leverett's work on the clarinet. She was dynamite. Buddy Clarke, The Digest, March 9, 1995.

Margot Leverett plays a virtuoso clarinet. Douglas J. Keating, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 12, 1994.


Margot’s web site


Review from The Philadelphia Inquirer article about “The Art of Klezmer Clarinet”- Margot Leverett’s solo CD on the Traditional Crossroads label http://www.traditionalcrossroads.com

 Klezmer Clarinet Virtuoso

A founding member of the Klezmatics and leading musician in the klezmer revival, Margot Leverett is a classically trained clarinetist who combines impeccable technique with the playful virtuosity of the klezmer style. A tribute to the legendary clarinetists Naftule Brandwein, Dave Tarras, and Shloimke Beckerman, whose virtuosity and dazzling showmanship made the clarinet synonymous with Klezmer for decades. Leverett absorbed the klezmer repertoire like other young musicians in the revival, hunched over cassette decks and ‘78 players, but she also studied directly with one of the last of the klezmer clarinet masters, Sid Beckerman, thus reviving klezmer’s subtle intonation and instrumental technique as well as its repertoire.

The Art of Klezmer Clarinet is not “Klezmer jazz” or “New Wave Klezmer”...this is pure unadulterated Klezmer clarinet party music, accompanied by Klezmer’s top musicians from around the country...played exactly the way she learned from the masters! With liner notes by Leverett, she recounts her experiences learning from the masters and spending time with their families such as the legendary Epstein brothers, Sid Beckerman, noted historian Henry Sapoznik and old time Klezmer wedding drummer Mickey Katz.

Part of the Digital Audiophile Series
Margot Leverett - clarinet, alto saxophone--with:  Jim Guttmann - bass, Evan Harlan - accordion, David Harris - trombone, Mimi Rabson - violin, Grant Smith - percussion, Bob Weiner - percussion


(also on Traditional Crossroads label)
Five of the top musicians on the international klezmer scene have joined forces to create music that engages the experience and spirit of Jewish women. Combining rare historical and new Yiddish and English songs with ecstatic klezmer melodies, Mikveh presents Jewish music through the prism of women’s lives--from exuberant celebrations of fertility, work, a daughter’s bas mitsveh, and forbidden love, to the quiet grief of miscarriage and the spirit of the Friday night table.

Featuring: Lauren Brody (accordion), Margot Leverett (clarinet), Nicki Parrott (double bass), Adrienne Cooper (voice), and Alicia Svigals (violin).


(CD 4318 Traditional Crossroads)
Klezmer-clarinetist Margot Leverett joins forces with today's stars of klezmer and bluegrass to explore the shared musical spirit of two genres literally worlds apart. Appalachian tunes by Bill Monroe meet klezmer melodies from pre-war Russia and Eastern Europe, some newly discovered, and the resulting medleys and improvisations are at once raw, funny, melancholic and footstomping. The Klezmer Mountain Boys include Leverett on clarinet, acclaimed fiddler Kenny Kosek, mandolin-player Barry Mitterhoff, guitarist Joe Selly and bass-player Marty Confurius.

CD features guest appearances by some of today's most important klezmer artists, including the Klezmatics' FRANK LONDON along with his KLEZMER BRASS ALLSTARS, accordionist and Yiddish singer MICHAEL ALPERT, Folksbienne theater director and pianist ZALMEN MLOTEK, and Azerbaijani pianist RUSLAN AGABABAYEV.

Excerpt of CD Review by Seth Rogovoy, author, The Essential Klezmer: A Music Lover's Guide to Jewish Roots and Soul Music:

"That bluegrass and klezmer music should find an affinity for each other in the work of Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys should come as no surprise. After all, what are bluegrass and klezmer at their very foundation but country music and Old Country music, both with roots in separate traditions of old-time, string-band music, spiffed up and polished and played by cosmopolitan virtuosos who, in the case of bluegrass, had one foot in the Appalachians and the other in the Grand Ol' Opry, and who, in the case of klezmer, had one foot in the shtetl and the other in New World nightclubs...

...Both are rootsy and roots-based, both are mountain musics (the Appalachians on the one hand, the Carpathians on the other), and both provide the instrumental soloists with plenty of room for self-expression within the constraints of highly-codified modes, scales and song forms. It shouldn't be surprising that they work well together. Margot Leverett wasn't the first to see this. Since the early days of the klezmer revival in the 1970s, key figures such as Andy Statman have straddled both worlds. But with this debut album by Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys, klezmer and bluegrass have never sounded so right together--a new, quintessentially American music, a melting-pot fusion that is an eloquent testament to the democratic experiment."
(All text and audio © 2003 Traditional Crossroads).

Margot Leverett and the Klezmer Mountain Boys second celebrated CD "SECOND AVENUE SQUARE DANCE" features guest appearances by electric guitarist, Jorma Kaukonen of Jefferson Airplane and Hot Tuna fame, legendary folk singer Hazel Dickens, and banjo virtuoso Tony Trischka. (also available from Traditional Crossroads).

"Klezmer and bluegrass sound as if they were meant to be combined. At least that's the conclusion after listening to this terrific album. Leverett & the Klezmer Mountain Boys have given us a wonderful gift. Master 're-arranger' Margot Leverett gently whisks listeners from the Black Mountains to Mount Sinai. There is plenty of toe-tapping (if not foot-stomping) fun." Dirty Linen

Hadassah Magazine: “The Klezmer Mountain Boys will stun and delight you...borscht and grits never tasted so good".

Cafe Guide Clarinetist: "Margot Leverett & The Klezmer Mountain Boys expand their repertoire beyond Bluegrass and Klezmer, exploring new dimensions of Rock, Jazz, Latin and American folk music, while continuing their unique, hybrid interpretations of standards made famous by Bill Monroe and Dave Tarras".