Press About

“…. the house band for klezmer’s newest wave.” (Elliott Simon, All About Jazz)



The Klez Dispensers are juicy, fresh and daring. They’ve been dishing up their
signature state-of-the-art, swinging American-style klezmer since their college days.
Audiences can’t get enough of their exciting performances, impeccable arrangements
and versatile improvisations. The band’s repertoire includes classic klezmer, Yiddish
swing and original compositions. Individually, each Dispenser is an accomplished
musician contributing skill, personality and artistry to the group. Their sensitive blend
of old world and downtown appeals to all generations.
The Klez Dispensers have crammed their sound into New York nooks such as
Satalla, Makor, Tonic, and CBGB’s, filled Lincoln Center’s Damrosch Park and Cape
May’s music festival, and lent their joyful noise to countless celebrations and festivals.
The opening track of their second album, “New Jersey Freylekhs,” was included on
the compilation “Celebrate Klezmer,” and two other tracks were featured in the
award-winning film “The Tribe.” Critical acclaim of “New Jersey Freylekhs” appeared
The Forward
and the July 2004 edition of
All About Jazz – New York.
The album was
awarded Best Klezmer Album at the Just Plain Folks 2006 Music Awards.
Formed in 1998, the band is an eight-piece ensemble comprising clarinet,
trumpet, saxophone, violin, piano, bass, drums and vocals.
The Klez Dispensers dispense the voice of both klezmer past and future, providing the
connective tissue between the two.”
Seth Rogovoy, The Forward
“This is klezmer played by incredibly talented musicians who really love and get the
music. Here’s what’s scary. If they’re this good now, what will they sound like when
they’re 64?”
Ari Davidow, Klezmer Shack
“I really love what the Klez Dispensers are doing: reaching back in and getting the sound
of the old stuff and doing some reflective, courageous and yes, in-your-punim kind of
Henry Sapoznik, producer, Yiddish Radio Project
“I will go out on a limb and state that this band, The Klez Dispensers, is the finest young
group playing classic American klezmer style that I have heard, both individually and
Pete Sokolow, klezmer legend
Alex Kontorovich
(clarinet, alto and baritone sax) is one of the young rising stars on the
NYC and international klezmer and jazz scenes, having performed with the Klezmatics,
Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Jamie Begian’s Big Band, the Toronto
Philharmonia, the Waterloo Symphony, DJ SoCalled, and many others. Russian-born, he is a
member of Aaron Alexander’s Midrash Mish Mosh, King Django’s Roots and Culture Band,
KlezSka, the Brellochs Saxophone Quartet, and is a founding member of the Klez
Dispensers. He has been on the faculty of KlezKamp and KlezKanada since 2005. Th
Forward raves “in clarinetist Alex Kontorovich, the stately playing of Dave Tarras lives on.”
Ben Holmes
(trumpet) is a Brooklyn-based trumpeter who performs regularly with many
ensembles, including The Klez Dispensers,
Slavic Soul Party,
Romashka, King Django’s
Roots & Culture Band, and his own jazz quartet. His inventive and subtly whimsical
compositions are featured on The Klez Dispensers’ second CD,
New Jersey Freylekhs
. Mr.
Holmes has appeared as a member of the Klezmatics on HBO’s “Sex and the City.” Other
recording credits include the “Let’s Get Serious” EP by the Panthers and Tyondai Braxton’s
“Rise Rise Rise.”
Amy Zakar
(violin, mandolin) is a second-generation musician from New York City. She is
versed in classical, folk, and jazz as well as klezmer. Ms. Zakar graduated from the
Manhattan School of Music’s Preparatory Division and received her B.A. from Princeton
University. She gives instrumental lessons and group classes and leads klezmer workshops
for all ages. She has performed at Lincoln Center, Weill Recital Hall, Judson Church and
Joe’s Pub. Ms. Zakar has worked in musical theater and children’s television, and directs a
youth strings program. In 2006, she joined the faculty of KlezKanada.
Audrey Betsy Wright
(alto and tenor sax, clarinet) plays nearly every genre of music on her
saxophones, clarinet, and flute. Best known for her fiery and acrobatic improvisations, she’s
a first-call horn player in several bands between Philadelphia and New York. Other groups
she performs with include Diva (the “No Man’s Band”), Midnight Sun Orchestra,
Metropolitan Gospel Big Band, The Jazz Squad, The Jazz Lobsters, and Ambience.
Susan Watts
(vocals, trumpet) represents the youngest generation of a klezmer dynasty that
reaches back to the Jewish Ukraine of the 19th century, beginning with her great-
grandfather, bandleader Joseph Hoffman. She is the sole living purveyor of a trumpet style
and sound which electrified Jewish-American audiences for decades. Ms. Watts has
recorded and performed with Hankus Netsky of the Klezmer Conservatory Band, and
Frank London’s brass project, Der Shikere Kapelye. She also composes for film, including
the award-winning “Breath” and “A Joyful Noise,” a documentary on Philadelphia klezmer.
Recent recordings include “Heart Beats” and “I Remember Klezmer.”