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HERE - Access All Areas
Cross-generational down-home steuj
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quite like this
revivalists-each a musical pioneer and
highly respected bandleader in his own right
-have come together to pay their mutual
respects to a musical heritage that has now
become their shared inheritance. It's an embarrassment of riches
that is thoroughly Cajun and has 'instant classic'written all over it.
Wayne Toups, the eldest of the three, takes centre stage with
two series of tunes at the beginning and end of the CD, each track
set apart by vocals now grown husky and gruff, with a sense of
authenticity and authority that bears a distinct resemblance
to the late Johnny Cash. Assuming more of a supportive role
here, Steve Riley, the next eldest and an unfailingly innovative
The Haifa Brothers
Play Traditional
Cajun Music
Ace (71 mins)
Classic doujnhome Cajun
The Balfa Brothers
were born into a very
poor Cajun farming
family in southern
Louisiana and grew
up both speaking and
singing in French as a first language.
Encouraged to play music both to
entertain the family and to earn some
extra income, the brothers rose to local
prominence due to the purity of their
music and the skill of their fiddling.
Dewey Balfa, aware they had something
special, approached Floyd Soileau, a
Louisiana record man who ran Swallow
78 Sonslines
musician, performs primarily on guitar and as harmony vocalist.
Wilson Savoy, leader of The Pine Leaf Boys, holds up his end
admirably as the youngest member of the trio, with harmony
vocals, silvery sharp fiddle solos, and a pair of lead vocals.
While the song selection here displays a pronounced
predilection for the dark side of Cajun songwriting, the overriding
mood is emotionally stirring and deeply soulful. Two secret
weapons help bring this fruitful collaboration to a state of
near-perfection: the ubiquitous acoustic bass, frequently placed
up-front in the mix, and the intimate setting of Joel Savoy's
analogue-only studio, which appropriately reflects both the
warmth that suffuses the musical collaboration at the heart of The
Band Courtboullion and the humanity at the heart of Cajun music.
Records {a maverick indie label, home to
many a swamp-pop hit). Soileau was,
initially, reluctant to record the Balfa
Brothers as he believed their sound too
archaic. Relenting, he cut the album The
Balfa Brothers Play Traditional Cajun
Music. The response to said album initially amongst locals and then amongst
fans of roots music across the US and
then Europe - was overwhelmingly
positive and in 1967 The Balfa Brothers
were booked to play Newport Folk
Festival, where they were a sensation.
In many ways that magnificent album
kick-started the widespread revival of
interest in Cajun music. In 1974, the
Balfa Brothers returned to Swallow
studios to record The Balfa Brothers Play
More Traditional Cajun Music (how's
that for an imaginative title?). By now
the band had toured across the US and
internationally, yet their sound remained
that of the Louisiana plains. And, again,
they delivered a majestic set of recordings.
This is beautiful folk music and Ace
gathered two very rare singles cut by the
band in 1977 and 1980 to round out this
effort. A superb introduction to Cajun
music at its most intimate.
Garth Cartwright
Chico: The Definitive
Collection 1970-1984
Wrasse Records (2 CDs; 80 mins)
The smoothest, suavest protest
singer ever to croon a critique?
All electric-blue eyes
and honeyed voice,
even at 68 Chico
Buarque remains the
debonair renaissance
man par excellence, a
Brazilian Leonard Cohen without the
angst. Back in the 1970s, he transformed
the humble protest song into high art: his
sidelong criticisms of the country's
military overlords were dense with
rhythm, harmony and literary flair.
Unsurprisingly then, this compilation
draws largely on that period, when
Buarque recorded a series of landmark
albums for Philips. Chief among these
was 1971's Construcdo, even if the titletrack's sturm und drang string
arrangement isn't for the fainthearted.
Less Elmer Bernstein is the hypnotic
'Desalento' from the same record,
accenting his warm, confidentialsounding wordplay with flute and
cavaquinho, while the keening 'Minha
Historia' resonates to the hollow 'thwock'
of woodblock. From there, disc one goes
on to survey the samba-dandy phrasing
oiMeu CaroAmigo's title-track and its
bittersweet, Beatlesy theatre piece,
'Mulheres De Atenas! Towering over all,
though, is the still-stunning Milton
Nascimento duet, 'O Cio Da Terra! A
secular prayer in song, it's as elemental as
the soil it celebrates, swelling with
ecstatic falsetto and scoured by a
discordant bass.
Disc two inevitably pales in
comparison, punctuated as it is with the
occasional 80s synth. While the reissue of
the original albums would've been much
more welcome, as a Buarque overview
this pretty much does what it says on
the tin.
Brendan Griffin
Caravana Sereia Bloom
Six Degrees (35 mins)
Dance-pop direction manages
to avoid the cheese
H Ceu's first two
albums established
her as one of Brazil's
most important new
artists. Both received
nominations, topped all'kinds of charts
and breathed new life into Brazilian
music. Ceu's success, like her music, has
seemed effortless. It's a pattern that will
surely continue with new album
Caravana Sereia Bloom. Whereas her
last release, Vagarosa, was undoubtedly a
product of Sao Paulo - urban, immersive.
introspective - Caravana Sereia Bloom
sees Ceu take to the road and head
northwards, replacing samba and bossa
nova with brega andguitarrada. Brega :?
a much more poppy style (its name
originally signified tackiness), while
guitarrada is an instrumental form of
lambada', both reflect northern Brazil s
close relationship with Caribbean music
and calypso in particular.
It all starts with the tropicalia-esque