Check out the video premiere of ‘Diamond Joe’ from Boston-based Ira Klein. It’s always a privilege to see great performers recording and this video allows us into the intimate studio environment to see Klein at work with an outstanding group of musicians. The combination of their talents is a joy to see and the blend of their musical layers creates a full, absorbing sound.
The multi-instrumentalist was a composer and educator in Jerusalem, Israel. However, his life and musical direction changed forever when Klein moved to Boston in 2017 to study at the Berklee College of Music. There, he immersed himself in American roots music, exploring compositions and sounds from the past and falling in love with blues and folk. As well as composing original material, Klein also re-interprets older pieces of music that have inspired him. He describes the selection of this song: “I wanted to re-imagine Charlie Butler’s haunting 1939 a-capella recording of ‘Diamond Joe’, turning it into a contemporary, full-sounding song showcasing the interactive musicianship of my ensemble: Kevin Barry on lap steel, Hazel Royer’s vocals and Maxfield Anderson on mandolin.” Indeed, the fabulously talented group of players come together to create an extraordinary collective sound. On a bed of intricate guitar picking, Royer’s pure voice fills the melody beautifully. Meanwhile, Kevin Barry (Jackson Browne, Rosanne Cash) delivers magical lap steel that glides and flies and soars.
‘Diamond Joe’ is the second single from the guitarist and banjoist’s debut EP, ‘Invisible Treasure’. Klein says the EP was, “…was born out of my passion for American roots music, and my desire to find a modern, personal approach to interpreting it. While I am a serious student of several folk traditions, such as old-time and blues, I am not a traditional musician. I use source recordings as points of creative departure and inspiration, and take a melting-pot musical approach to create my own personal sound and aesthetic.” Featuring his own compositions and new versions of older songs, ‘Invisible Treasure’ is at once fresh and rooted in the the musical traditions of the past. Klein combines the old and new with great skill and sensitivity. He has spent years working as a guitarist side-man and producer for other musicians, such as Amy McKnight and Rachel Sumner. However, on the strength of the two single releases so far, this talented instrumentalist is one to watch. Check out the new EP on Bandcamp here. Enjoy.