Susan Watts (middle)

Susan Watts

Susan Watts represents the youngest generation of an important klezmer dynasty that reaches back to the Jewish Ukraine of the 19th century, beginning with her great-grandfather, bandleader, composer, and cornet-player, Joseph Hoffman. Hoffman’s handwritten music books contain his own arrangements of horas, Russian shers, polkas, mazurkas, Russian kamaratskies and kazatskies, a czardas, waltzes, freilachs, bulgars, and many other tunes named after the very Russian and Polish towns with which the music was associated. The Hoffman family played for generations of Philadelphia-area Jewish weddings, and parties, and their music became part of a distinctly Philadelphia klezmer repertoire. Susan is the sole living purveyor of the family’s traditional klezmer-style trumpet sounds which electrified Jewish American audiences in our region for decades. Sandler currently plays this music with her mother, the great klezmer drummer Elaine Hoffman Watts, in their Philadelphia-based group, the Fabulous Shpielkehs. (You can listen, and learn more, at this link). In addition to playing with a variety of noted klezmer musicians from around the world, Watts has recorded and performed with Hankus Netsky, Mikveh, London’s Klezmer All-Star Brass Band, and others. Susan has taught at klezmer festivals and privately, and performs in a diverse range of trumpet styles. She was a featured artist in the PFP's Women's Music Project for 2001- 2003.