various artists,
Bretonne Attitude

(Keltia, 2003)

If you enjoy listening to the accordion in all its glorious incarnations, you'd probably agree that this is a superb 14-track accordion sampler featuring young, upcoming Breton equivalents of Karen Tweed, Phil Cunningham, Andy Cutting, Donald Shaw, et al. OK, so there's an awful lot of accordion here, but I have to say that it's all bathed in a rather glorious Gallic glow.

This CD sets out to celebrate that joyous "creative spirit" found within the Celtic souls of the world. The French call the accordion "la boite du diable (the devil's box)" -- though why this much-maligned instrument should be so regarded is beyond me. These are uncluttered, sometimes jazz-edged arrangements of traditional and self-composed tunes, and I love the syncopation in so much of the playing. The rhythmic bass lines underpin some really creative playing and it makes for great listening. Musical accompaniment is sparse, with occasional piano, guitar and fiddle.

Highlights? Far too many! Fanch Peron's "Prendre L'Air" begins with a beautifully reinterpreted traditional waltz and unfolds into almost nine minutes of perfection. Wenceslas Hervieux's "Scottish De St Just" abounds with Balkan influence, and features some amazingly triumphant trumpet playing from Bertrand Coudrais. Then there are the excellent jazz-laden interpretations by Jean Le Floc'h and Regis Huiban; there's a lively pair of mazurkas from Yannig Noguet; and a beautiful Finnish tune from the only female accordionist here, Audrey Le Jossec -- very Karen Tweed! Janick Martin's playing is wonderfully rhythmic and very lyrical; his diatonic accordion is branded in the sleeve notes as his "emotion machine." There is much more besides, and it's all so unashamedly French.

Sadly, albums like this often remain hidden away from a wider audience because they're hard to get hold of. What treasure lies therein, though!

- Rambles
written by Debbie Koritsas
published 5 June 2004