Between 1922 and 1927, he cut twenty-four records, first as a member of Abe Schwartz's orchestra, and then as a solo artist after 1923. Brandwein was known as much for his colourful personality as for his musical talent, often playing with a neon sign, reading "Naftule Brandwein Orchestra", around his neck, and with his back to the audience, to conceal his fingering tricks. He also wore plugged-in Christmas lights as part of his costume on several occasions, which once shorted out when he perspired too much, almost electrocuting him. His wild style incorporated not only the influence of Jewish music, but also flourishes of Greek, Turkish, and Gypsy music. His warm and lively playing style constantly jumped up and down the scale and expressed itself in trills, slides, and other ornamentation; he is often contrasted with the other famous klezmer clarinettist of his time, Dave Tarras, who had a more conservative playing style. Brandwein was notoriously unreliable, unable to read music, and possessed of a reputation as a nasty drunk.
He even supposedly played private shows in backrooms for the largely Jewish contract killing gang Murder, Inc. His career soured from the mid-1920s onward, as demand for his traditional approach to klezmer music waned; he made his last recording in 1941 and lived out his final years in relative obscurity, playing in the Borscht Belt. While he did not live to witness the resurgence of interest in klezmer that began in the mid-1970s, his legacy has been revived by a new generation of klezmer musicians, who cite him as a key source of inspiration. The intricate traditions of klezmer music are not well preserved in sheet music, and his recordings are among the main sources people look to for the "original" klezmer style. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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