Klezmer Mania! hits decade milestone this weekend

Saxon is former cantor of Oakland's Temple Beth Abraham. He now leads High Holy Day services at Valley Beth Shalom in Encino. He has been singing and playing trumpet professionally since 1978. He has performed with the Berkeley Symphony Orchestra, Chet Baker, Chanticleer, Jose Feliciano, the Klezmorim, Bobby McFerrin and Frank Zappa. His Klezmer Mania! group includes four violins and a bass.

Flexer is founder and producer of Klezmer Mania! Next Village includes Moldovan accordionist Nikolai Prisakar, marimbist Joel Davel, bassist Cindy Browne and percussionist Jason Lewis. Flexer's first CD, "Listen" — performed with her band Third Ear — has been featured on NPR; her second, with Next Village, was released earlier this year.

Flexer's husband, Mike Marshall, will perform with his wife in a mandolin-violin duet. Marshall helped conceive and produce Klezmer Mania! and was a founding member of the David Grisman Quintet, Montreux and the Modern Mandolin Quartet. He recently has been recording and touring with bassist Edgar Meyer, violinist Joshua Bell and mandolinist Sam Bush under the name Short Trip Home. The group's debut CD was released this year.

Finjan, whose six musicians hail from Winnipeg, Manitoba, has made hundreds of appearances during the past decade at folk and jazz festivals and concerts across North America. The group has recorded three albums, appeared on Canadian television and in movies, been featured on NPR's "A Prairie Home Companion" and performed with the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, premiering the "Suite for Klezmer Band and Orchestra."

Za'atar was formed in Berkeley in 1997 to explore the traditional, modern, sacred and social music of Mizrahi and Sephardic Jews. Za'atar, which took its name from a cooking spice revered for its healing qualities, combines both ancient and modern instruments, including the oud (Arabic lute), baglama (long-necked Turkish lute), ney (flute), darbuka (hand drum), and classical and bass guitar. Some of the songs combine Psalms with modern Yemenite or Israeli melodies, or traditional Moroccan liturgy set to ancient North African music.

Flexer will present a free, pre-concert talk at 7 p.m. tomorrow.

Zellerbach Hall is located at Bancroft Way and Telegraph on the U.C. Berkeley campus.

Tickets are $14 to $28. The Friday show features half-price tickets for children ages 16 and under. Half-price tickets also are available for purchase by U.C. Berkeley students. U.C. faculty and staff; seniors and other students receive a $2 discount. For information call Cal Performances at (510) 642-9988.