November 04, 2013

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By Kathryn Kopchik

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Acclaimed bluegrass mandolinist and klezmer clarinetist Andy Statman will perform with his Trio on Wednesday, Nov. 13, at 7:30 p.m. at the Campus Theatre in Lewisburg as part of the American Masterpieces Tour. Statman will perform with Jim Whitney and Larry Eagle.

The performance, presented by the Weis Center for the Performing Arts at Bucknell, is free and open to the public; tickets are not required.

Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. A pre-performance talk will take place from 6:45 to  7:15 p.m.

The New York Times describes Statman's Americana/roots music as "Modern American music with ancient mysteries at the core ..." Statman calls his compositions and performances "spontaneous American-roots music and personal, prayerful hasidic music, by way of avant-garde jazz."

Statman has played with everyone from Izhak Perlman to Jerry Garcia. He has appeared on more than 100 recordings, including 20 under his own name, working with the Grateful Dead, Bob Dylan, Ricky Skaggs and Bela Fleck. A Grammy nominee, he has been the subject of dozens of feature articles, from the New York Times to Billboard to Rolling Stone. He received the 2012 National Heritage Fellowship, America's highest honor in the traditional arts.

Born in 1950 into a long line of cantors, composers, and both classical and vaudeville musicians, Statman grew up in Queens, N.Y. His early musical influences included klezmer records played at family gatherings, Tin Pan Alley and Broadway show tunes, his rabbi in Hebrew school singing Hasidic songs, rock and roll, big band jazz, and classical music. When Statman's older brother started bringing home bluegrass records, Statman took up the guitar and banjo, eventually switching to mandolin under the tutelage of David Grisman.

At age 17, after hearing Albert Ayler, Statman began to study saxophone, which he played in free jazz, funk, rock and Chicago blues bands while expanding his mandolin playing in similar directions. In 1970 he joined the experimental bluegrass group Country Cooking, followed by a stint with David Bromberg's band, and then another experimental group, Breakfast Special.

Statman took up the clarinet and studied Greek, Albanian and Adzerbaijani music. In 1975, he began working with the legendary klezmer clarinetist and NEA National Heritage Fellow Dave Tarras, who wrote a number of melodies for him. Tarras bequeathed four of his clarinets to  Statman to carry on his legacy.

In the late 1970s Statman recorded his first albums: "Jewish Klezmer Music", a recording that became a touchstone for the 1970s klezmer revival; and "Flatbush Waltz", a mandolin masterpiece of post-bebop jazz improvisations and ethnically inspired original compositions.

As a clarinetist, Statman began to zero in on the sublimely ecstatic, centuries-old Hasidic melodies that lie at the heart of klezmer music, melodies that were embedded in the religious path he had come to follow. This led to his galvanizing klezmer music with the spiritually oriented jazz of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler and other musics he had explored.

Jim WhitneyJim Whitney, who appears in many musical worlds as a bassist, is an original member of the jazz-bluegrass fusion group The Wayfaring Strangers. He has performed with actors Meryl Streep, John Goodman and Philip Seymour Hoffman as a member of the group Parabola under the direction of composer/conductor Carter Burwell.

He has appeared with jazz notables Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell and Alan Dawson, and worked with bluegrass luminaries Richard Greene, Tim O'Brien, David Grisman and Darol Anger. Also a proficient electric bass player, he appears in the country-rock group Miller's Farm, and is a member of singer/pianist Debbie Deane's soul and groove trio. Whitney has toured extensively, having performed in Europe, Japan, Singapore, Israel, Central America, New Zealand, Canada, and much of the U.S.

Larry EagleDrummer and percussionist Larry Eagle is a founding member of Bruce Springsteen's Sessions Band (which won a Grammy for traditional folk music), and played on R&B/Soul artist John Legend's Grammy-winning second album.

He's played for a Blues Grammy nominee and a Country and Western Grammy nominee, and recorded albums with bluegrass superstar Ricky Skaggs and powerful jazz/soul singer Lizz Wright.

Eagle has performed on The Tonight Show, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Good Morning America, PBS, the BBC and an ice-breaking Baltic Sea ferry out of Naantali, Finland.

This tour engagement of Andy Statman is made possible by a grant from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's American Masterpieces program with support from the National Endowment for the Arts.

The next performance in the Weis Center's 2013-14 Series is a free performance by jazz vocalist Catherine Russell and her Trio on Wednesday, Nov. 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Weis Center Lobby. The performance is free and tickets are not required.

For more information about this performance contact Lisa Leighton, marketing and outreach director, at 570-577-3727 or by email at

For more information about the Weis Center for the Performing Arts, go to or