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Rise and Shine

What happens when 100 klezmer musicians from around the world gather for a photo op?

October 22, 2007

On a summer morning in 1958, up on 126th Street in Harlem, Art Kane took a photograph of a group of musicians that included some of the greatest jazz players of all time, such as Dizzy Gilespie, Thelonius Monk, Charles Mingus, Charlie Parker. The photograph, titled “A Great Day in Harlem,” is now legendary and recently it served as the inspiration for another group photograph.

The new picture, taken on the steps of the newly-restored, 120-year-old Eldridge Street Synagogue on the Lower East Side, was of nearly 100 klezmer musicians from all over the United States and Europe. They came at the invitation of musician and ethnographer Yale Strom to celebrate the vitality of klezmer today. This photo (and a series of concerts planned alongside it) would be called “A Great Day on Eldridge Street.”

It seems like such a lovely idea, but could they really pull it off? And would it really, truly, be great? Here’s our report.

Photos courtesy of the Eldridge Street Project. Parading musicians by Jessica Schein. Group portrait by Leo Sorel.

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Hadara Graubart was formerly a writer and editor for Tablet Magazine.