Sukke / Introducing Sukke
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Sukke Sukke
Introducing Sukke (World Music Network)

A nicely priced introduction to the klezmer music of Dutch accordionist Sanne Möricke, English clarinetist Merlin Shepherd, and German bassist Heiko Lehmann. Solid playing, no surprises and a traditionalist presentation.

Press from the record label:
A sukke is a temporary dwelling, a hut roofed with branches where Jews spend a week every autumn, celebrating the harvest and skimping on non-essentials. They are supposed to remember their origins and return to where they came from – not Egypt and slavery, but a shack in the middle of a desert. They might have been nowhere, but at least they were free.

Traditional Jewish culture is centred around the Exodus from Egypt, and the sukke serves as a reminder that we’re still on the road and that everything changes except where we’re going. A conquering Roman – a general, an Imperial tough guy – had a man to ride alongside him at his triumph and tell him where he was really bound: Mortalis es (You’re going to die). But dying is no news to the Jews, who are supposed to live like fugitives for part of every year in order not to forget what is and is not important.

This focus on the essential led three of the most prominent klezmer musicians in Europe to come together under the name of Sukke. As one of the few contemporary bands playing unhyphenated klezmer, unqualified Jewish music, Sukke has never lost sight of what is really important. The band doesn’t play klezmer-jazz or country-and-westmer; instead of piggybacking and ‘fusion’, there is extension, a development of tradition inspired by the teachings of Rabbi Shmarye Wohltrenner, the Rebbe of Ribnitz, Sukke’s spiritual master. ‘S’iz nishto ken onkumen,’ he told them on his deathbed. ‘Nor geyn foroys.’ (‘There is no arrival, only forward movement. Look behind you for the way ahead.’) And that’s exactly what Sukke has done: taken the music closer to the place it’s trying to go to.

The Musicians Behind Sukke

Sanne Möricke lives in Berlin and is currently one of Europe's most highly sought-after klezmer accordionists. She is a co-founder of Sukke and the acclaimed duo Khupe, appearing regularly on stages and at festivals throughout Europe, and was also a founding member of Di Kalles, the first all-female klezmer band. She is a teacher at klezmer academies such as KlezFest London and Klezmerwochen Weimar, and has performed with Michael Alpert, Frank London's Klezmer Brass Allstars and the Northern Sinfonia, amongst others.

Merlin Shepherd is one of the world's leading players of traditional East European klezmer clarinet style and has been musical director for the Royal National Theatre, the Royal Shakespeare Company and Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. He works as music coordinator for KlezKamp USA, KlezFest London and taught at KlezFest St Petersburg, KlezFest Evpatoria in Ukraine, and KlezKanada. Apart from his own ensembles, he has worked and toured throughout Britain and Europe with Budowitz, Klezmer Brass Allstars, The Burning Bush and New Presumption. He lives in Brighton.

Heiko Lehmann is one of the best-known members of the international Yiddish and klezmer scene. He is a co-founder of Sukke, Golus Storytheatre and Blasebalg, a music theatre duo performing for children. He has performed with, amongst others, Aufwind, Kapelye, Budowitz, Willy Schwarz, Di Naye Kapelye, Chicago Klezmer Ensemble and Cultus Ferox, and has worked in Europe, North America, Israel and Turkey. He is known not only as a musician but also as a composer, producer, translator, author and actor.

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