Epelde eta Larranaga,
(Elkarlanean, 2004)

The trikitixa (Basque diatonic accordion) and tambourine duo called Epelde eta Larranaga, from the Basque heartland town of Azkoitia in Gipuzkoa province (Spain), has brought us a dynamic set that gets your feet moving.

Tomas Soraluze Epelde is an accomplished accordionist in many styles and Larranaga handles the tambourine and vocals.

The trikitixa, though of comparatively recent vintage (100 or so years) in Basque country, is one of the most emblematic styles of music heard in the area. It combines fast-moving, bright accordion (usually a two-row button diatonic) with tambourine as the percussion. Other instruments can join in as well, but don't get the attention.

On this recording, the duo is joined by members of Oskorri (Inigo Egia on percussion and Josu Salbide on dultzaina, as well as sound wizard Jean Phocas). Other guests include Andoni Larranaga (tambourine), Bihotz Gorospe (vocals), Iker Allur (accordion) and Gotzone Sestorain (irrintzina, or Basque yodel).

It's full of joyful traditional dance music, mostly up-tempo. "Festa giro" sounds like a call to get up and dance. The line "get up boys and girls, let's party!" is about as far as I get on a translation. And perhaps have a nice glass of sagardoa (Basque cider). "Hamasei hamazazpi (Sixteen, seventeen)" is another nice track. As there aren't any translations, my Basque being limited I can only guess at the meanings of the songs.

If there is a downside, it's that some listeners who don't know the genre might find a bit of sameness among the tracks. And you've gotta like the diatonic accordion. Fortunately, I do.

I give full marks for Epelde's work on the Larrinaga-made diatonic and the various percussion used on the CD. For those who love authentic, traditional dance music, unadorned by modern trends, this is a great recording, simple and direct.

by David Cox
18 February 2006