KLEZMER fusion band Chutney – comprising Ben Adler, Matt Druery, Paul Khodor, Oscar Gross and Ben Samuels – played a high energy set of modern takes on traditional Eastern European klezmer tunes and horas, plus some original music at Limmud Oz last month.
Live-streamed from Emanuel Synagogue to thousands of viewers across five time zones from Perth to New Zealand, Chutney plays “music that energises, uplifts and brings moments of joy and reflection”, Adler commented.
“Although most of our music is Jewish in some way, we play anything from klezmer to Mizrachi, folk to classical, indie rock to tango, jazz to funk: in drawing influence from so many genres, we hope to belong to none.”
Guest singer Aliza Waxman joined the band to perform Rivers of Gold, written by Adler.
The name Chutney embodies the band’s musical vision: “a mixture of disparate, spicy flavours that complement each other to form a new whole”, explained Adler.
The other, more organic, reason behind the band’s name arose during a rehearsal in January. “As we gathered round the piano munching on a classic musicians’ dinner of crackers and apple slices smeared with chutney graciously left behind by my ex-housemate, the comment was made that ‘this chutney is twangy!’ and the name stuck in five minutes.”
One week prior to Chutney’s performance, and one year after marking their debut concert at Limmud Oz, founding members of Chutney – now known as the acoustic trio, Chutney Unplugged, and comprising Adler, Khodor and Joshua Druery – also returned to Limmud and took the audience on a journey through the rich Jewish anthology.
“We resurrected the original trio to play an acoustic style exploration of the Jewish songbook, featuring our favourite music from Broadway, the silver screen, shule, Israel and beyond,” Adler said.
Since their early days, Chutney Unplugged played at a B’nai B’rith fundraiser, and soon after took their music to the wider community.
They scored their first major gig at LazyBones in January, joined by Gross and Matt Druery, and were gigging widely throughout Sydney until COVID-19 struck. “Paul and I have used the last few months to write, arrange and record music, including our moving rendition of Yerushalayim shel Zahav, which was played on Israeli national radio on erev Yom Yerushalayim,” said Adler.