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(847) 675-4800 maxwellstreetband@gmail.com

Copyright 2019 Maxwell Street Klezmer Band

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Media Kit

  • Chicago's original Klezmer Revival band since 1983
  • Master musicians and engaging entertainers
  • Programs tailored to all ages and backgrounds

Band Biography

In 1983, before klezmer music gained its recent popularity, Lori Lippitz founded the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band. Working within the Chicago Jewish community, the band reintroduced traditional dance music to weddings and other Jewish celebrations. Over the years, the band has performed on stages across the country (including Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center and Symphony Center) and played nine tours in Europe. Recently, the Maxwell Street Klezmer band celebrated their 30th Anniversary with a reunion concert at the Old Town School of Folk Music. Their third CD, You Should Be So Lucky! is one of the ten best-selling klezmer recordings in America.

Maxwell Street is proud to be:

  • The founder of the Klezmer Music Foundation and organizer of the Midwest Klezmer and Yiddish Music Institute (since 1995) at the Kaplan JCC, the Midwest’s only annual forum for klezmer and Yiddish music workshops. The Institute attracts over 800 participants a year and trains musicians of all ages.

  • The sponsor of the Chicago Junior Klezmer Orchestra, a training ground for young klezmer musicians, since 1993.

  • A founding partner of the Yiddish Arts Ensemble, scoring and staging original English-language musicals based upon Yiddish folklore.

  • On the roster of the Illinois Arts Council Artstour of recommended performers.



With its big band instrumentation, Maxwell Street moves easily among various styles: Russian and gypsy music, folk songs, theater songs and Yiddish pop songs from the 1920's-50's. Their performance creates a multi-dimensional picture of the lost Jewish culture of Eastern Europe, spiced with vignettes of America seen through immigrant eyes.


Clarinet, saxophone, violin, trumpet, trombone, piano, bass and percussion make up the band, rounded out by a duet of female singers. Musical Director Alex Koffman spices the band’s potpourri of Yiddish songs, dance and theater music with his original arrangements, inspired by his classical and jazz background. 


Alex Koffman, Musical Director - Violin, Vocals
Lori Lippitz, Band Leader - Vocals
Lisa Fishman - Vocals (Touring)
Etel Melamed - Vocals
Bibi Marcel - Vocals
Donald Jacobs / Ralph Wilder / Jeff Jeziorski - Clarinet
Shelley Yoelin - Saxophone, Clarinet, Flute
Ivo Braun - Trumpet
Bob Samborski / Audrey Morrison / Dana Legg - Trombone
Gail Mangurten - Piano
Jim Cox - Bass
Mark Ponarovsky - Percussion


The Critics

  • "The Property" bills itself as a Klezmer opera, it's perhaps more accurate to call it a theater piece that incorporates Klezmer vocal and instrumental  writing." "the musicians dispatched the score with infectious verve under conductor Michael Lewanski." - Chicago Tribune / Read the review   

  • "Conducted with vigor by Michael Lewanski, the six-member klezmer ensemble ---provided lively and idiomatic advocacy for Marhulets’ score. Clarinetist Don Jacobs and violinist Alex Koffman, in particular, were in tune with the essential strain of Eastern European nostalgia."  -  Chicago Classical Review / Read the review

  • "No surprise that there’s a killer part for clarinet — Don Jacobs is on the reed, lending Old World flavor from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Bandalong with violinist Alex Koffman and double bassist Jim Cox. They know how to bend a note into a call from the heart." - Chicago On the Aisle / Read the review

  • "Full of energy and humor...An eventful and entertaining evening, I can indeed recommend the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band to other venues all over the wold." - Weiner Konzerthaus

  • "Delightful...gorgeous violin playing." - Chicago Tribune  

  • "Internationally known...Evocative...Aims for the heartstrings and the feet." - Jewish Heartland

  • "At the end, no one wanted to leave. The heartfelt music had touched everyone…" - The Star

  • "The most well-attended, well-appreciated concert in [19] years…Everyone… was in awe of the band’s musical talents and wonderful showmanship." - Illinois State University

  • "This group can easily take its place beside the Klezmer Conservatory Band and the Klezmatics. They are that good." - National Jewish Post & Opinions

  • "I think that I’ve recovered from the Maxwell Street Klezmer Band concert [at Carnegie Hall], now. These guys do a very perfect vintage ‘30s jazz and klezmer and theatre music show. Lots of great shtick. Lots of great mugging for the audience. One of the tightest bands I’ve seen in a long time...I expected good, but this was really, really good." - Ari Davidow

  • "Kings of klezmer" - Pioneer Press

  • "Maxwell Street Klezmer once again was the star of the show." - Temple Israel, Bloomfield, Michigan

  • "Outstanding performance… Maxwell Street brought...a ‘taste’ of Yiddishkyte that would be hard to duplicate...Excellent!" - Valley Jewish Festival

  • "An absolutely first class performance...The audience absolutely loved them." - World of Jewish Music, London

  • "An exhilarating, delightful high-voltage performance." -örderung Jüdischer Kultur und Tradition E.V., Munich, Germany

  • "Sensational!" - Mid-Kansas Jewish Federation

  • "The Maxwell Street Klezmer Band throws a party" - Rich Swenson, The Chicago Sun-Times

  • "These are fine musicians...they care about the music. And when they care—I care." - Theodore Bikel, actor and singer



  • 2013 Maxwell St. Days (Reissue from LP to CD)

  • Maxwell Street Klezmer Band's recording ("Tumbalalaika") was in O Relógio do Meu Avô (My Grandfather´s Watch) a film that won the 2013 São Paulo Jewish Film Festival and an Honorable Mention in the 2013 International Festival Brazil de Cinema. 

  • 2008 Eight Nights of Joy (Sounds Write Music)

  • 2002 Old Roots, New World (Shanachie Entertainment)

  • 2000 Sweet Early Years (Klezmer Music Foundation, Inc.)

  • 1997 The MATZOrena (cassette single) (KlezDance Productions)

  • 1996 You Should Be So Lucky! (Shanachie Entertainment)

  • 1994 The European recording Jiddisches Lied & Klezmer 4th Internationales Festival

  • 1986 Maxwell St. Days (Global Village Music)


Lori Lippitz

(847) 675-4800