Peter Sokolow, a bridge between the classic era of Klezmer and the revivalists of today, has died. Born in 1940, by the 1950s he was playing with Jewish bands in the Catskills resort circuit known as the Borscht Belt. After studying piano as a child he learned clarinet and saxophone in an adolescent fervor to become a New Orleans jazz “moldy fig,” but soon recognized a need for pianists in the Klezmer groups he was working with and returned to piano for the remainder of his career.
He worked with all of the greats during that classic age of Klezmer and by the 1980s was well positioned to guide a budding revival. He co founded a group called “Klezmer Plus!” in 1982. He would go on to record numerous albums, teach, guide a number of projects and anthologies and participate in programs for Smithsonian Folkways, NPR, and others. He was a giant of the genre who leaves behind a monumental legacy.