Photo: The members of Mames Babegenush: Andreas Møllerhøj: double bass; Lukas Rande: saxophones; Morten Ærø: drums; Nicolai Kornerup: accordion; Bo Rande: flugelhorn and Emil Goldschmidt: clarinet.
Concert goers in the Valley are in for a treat when Mames Babegenush performs at the Musical Instrument Museum on Monday, Aug. 26, at 7 pm. The band’s original sound is a blend of the musician’s Scandinavian roots and traditional Klezmer music.
This is their first appearance in Arizona and will be part of a two-week tour throughout the United States. Stops include performances in Los Angeles, New York and along the East Coast, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.
Although the band has been together for 15 years, two of the members Emil Goldschmidt (clarinet) and Lukas Rande (saxophone) have been performing together even longer – since they were 8 years old.
Emil and Lukas were part of the elite Tivoli Boys Guard from Copenhagen, Denmark, which was created by Tivoli amusement park owner Georg Carstensen as a present for Tivoli’s second anniversary in 1844.
“You have to work all summer in the amusement park,” says Emil. “We had to play four to five shows a week from the age of 8 to 16 in Tivoli.”
Emil initially started his musical career on the drums, but for some reason his father decided to give him a clarinet. “At that time I was like the coolest kid in class, and suddenly I was a geek with a clarinet,” he jokes.
Emil had grown up with Jewish music, and when he was asked by the Chabad rabbi in Copenhagen to play for a Hanukkah party, he asked Lukas and a few other good friends who were musicians to join him.
“In the beginning, we just started to try to sound like the old recordings, and then after a while we thought, you know we should mix in some of our own roots here in Scandinavia,” says Emil. “I guess we’re all musicians who like to experiment in music, so we did a lot of different styles.” The group has performed everything from electronic music to string quartets to opera.
After the Hanukkah party, the group decided to form a band, and they were discussing what their name should be one evening. “We were sitting after rehearsal at my place, at that time I lived with my parents, and my mom comes in with a big bowl of baba ganoush and we were like, ‘You know what? Why don’t we just call ourselves Mames Babegenush?” says Emil.
He adds, “This was before the internet really took off – it’s the stupidest name to Google because no one knows how to spell it!” The name stuck so they couldn’t change it. In their home country of Denmark, most of their fans just call them “Mames.”
The group has released five full-length albums, and their sixth will come out in spring or early summer 2020.
“We have decided to do our next album in January,” says Lukas. “I’m looking forward to what it’s going to be. Something live and perhaps a bit more inspired by jazz music than our previous albums.”
Prior to their summer tour, Emil will be teaching at KlezKanada summer retreat program. KlezKanada was founded in 1996 to teach, nurture and present the best of traditional Jewish arts and Jewish culture. He has taught there before and enjoys working with the top Klezmer players from all over the world.
Through Emil’s work at KlezKanada and Mames Babegenush’s performances around the world, the band can ensure that traditional Jewish music continues to have both new performers and new fans.
For ticket information, visit mim.org.