I’ve been thinking of the tune “Plant a Cao,” lately (sheet music down below). It was nominated for tune of the month over on Melodeon.net. It was voted down, but a fascination was still sparked. This is a scottish I first heard on the Musaique CD, by Ad Vielle Que Pourra. They play it at light speed, which suits me some of the time. My current favorite version is this one by Jean Luc Gueneau and Gilles Poutoux:
I heard the Gentiane version, featuring the great Jean Blanchard some years later. It has a gentler, more playful tone:
And here’s a solo accordion version by Jac Lavergne, from his Cadence d’Auvergne cassette tape.
The “lightspeed” version I mentioned above is the second tune in the set below:
Hey there. This is a tune I learned in 1998 (I think … it was so long ago!) from Steve Gruverman and Marie Wendt shortly after I moved to Maine. The dance is a slow, peaceful line … although I play it with a bit of drama, here.
Every Monday, I will be posting a new or newly discovered (newly by me, anyway) video of French accordionistics. If you would like to draw my attention to something out there that should be posted, or want to submit one of yourself playing some French tune (including Breton) on accordion, email me here.
Presented here is a French Scottish (not a reel), performed by Serge Carrier on a three-stop one row. I love that one row sound, and continue to obsess about it.
Every Monday, I will be posting a new or newly discovered (newly by me, anyway) video of French accordionistics. If you would like to draw my attention to something out there that should be posted, or want to submit one of yourself playing some French tune (including Breton) on accordion, email me here. This one features Patrick Lefebvre on CBA. He’s one of my heroes. I wrote a tribute to him in 2011.
The Dino Baffetti Tex-Mex II/34 arrived on Thursday! Very exciting! I had intended to do an internal examination of the box, a laOwen Woods or Daddy Long Les, but I found I couldn’t bear to take a screw driver to it, not even to remove the grill. I’m made of less stern stuff than that, it seems.
Instead, I’ve been playing the heck out of it. Here are some first thoughts:
Big one! Playing a three row is different from playing two or two-and-a-half row or even two-row-plus-accidentals. Possibly this is obvious. The three row quint box can do different things that I don’t yet know how to do. New frontiers!
The two row repertoire works just fine on this one. Even if it is obvious that playing up-and-down the rows is not what it was built to do, everything I’ve been learning for the last 15 years is essentially transferable!
At melodeon.net there is a recurring discussion about stepped keyboards vs. flat keyboards. Playing a flat keyboard for the first time in years has made no difference to me.
Even though this is an F/Bb/Eb box (which is exactly what I was after) I’m choosing to name it as G/C/F and recognize that it’s a transposing instrument. All of the sheet music and tab is for G/C/F, so this seems simplest.
It sounds AMAZING. Essentially, as one colleague mentioned, it’s a clone of a Hohner Corona, done to a absurdly high level of quality. The sound is so very sweet. And the touch is effortless. I do have fond feelings for Hohner accordions, but this is a cut above.
I love it.
It is a little silly that with five rows of box to my name, I still don’t have a D row. What sort of psychological block am I dealing with? Is it PTSD from the Minneapolis Irish sessions?
Here are three videos with the Baffetti. The first is a hanter dro written by Sylvain Piron.
The second is another hanter dro, traditional, that I learned from Steve Gruverman.
The third is a Breton March, traditional, that I learned from the playing of Daniel Thonon.
The magic that is La Chavannée is on display in some quality videos on YouTube. Here is an assortment. Thanks to Mitch Gordon, and Phillipe Wurlgue and Jeff Dantin (of Morvan Productions) for posting these.
Here’s a new polka written by myself and clarinetist Steve Gruverman. I improvised the theme in connection to a recording project, a song called “The Ballad of the Bachelor.” Steve took the theme and morphed it into this, “The Bachelor’s Polka.” I did mess around just a bit with Steve’s harmonies, which I hope he doesn’t mind. Here’s the tune. The sheet music is below.
This is the fifth piece in a series about Andy Cutting. Click through for parts one, two, and three … and also some pictures of his boxes. The duets of Andy Cutting and Chris Wood are among the high points of English and European folk music. That’s not hyperbole. Cutting’s solo playing is a thing of beauty. The work with Blowzabella is a spectacle to be adored. The Cutting and Wood duets are something else.
Andy had this to say about the duet:
Chris and I first met at a late night session at Sidmouth Folk Festival the same year as the Riccardo Tesi workshop. At the end of the session Chris asked if I fancied meeting up the next day to play some more? We had a lovely few tunes on the beach the next day then he had to leave for a gig. A couple of months later he phoned me up to ask if I would play on his solo record. I of course said, “Yes.” He had recently returned from a trip to Canada where he had been taken around various house sessions by Lisa Ornstein. He was very interested in how English traditional music had traveled to Quebec and been changed by the different musical flavors there.
The night before the recording session he came to my house and we played the tunes he wanted to record with me. We played for about ten minutes and knew it would be good so we went to the pub. On the way to the studio the next day Chris said he was doing a couple of songs with Martin Carthy and would it be good if Martin played on our track as well? So, not a bad first recording experience!
From the first time we played together it just worked. It was like we had the same goal and because of this we didn’t have to discuss anything. We just played. That has never really changed. After the recording he suggested that we should play some more together as he had quite a few Quebecois tunes we could look at. So the Wood & Cutting duo was born. After a while we started looking at some of the French repertoire that I was playing. A couple of years later we played at a castle on a very cold and wet Sunday to virtually no one, so decided just to play English tunes. We played for four hours. It was so easy and felt so natural to play our own music after spending years trying to play other peoples music. So we had finally reached our goal.
With much gratitude, I celebrate Yann-Fañch Perroches.
Owen Woods, who writes the fantastic Music and Melodeons, mentioned in passing that he’s playing a gig in support of the great Breton accordéonist, Yann-Fañch Perroches. After the wave of envy passed, it struck me that, even though I have Perroches’ link over there in the “Relevant Links” column, I’ve never actually written about him. This is a travesty.
This is a travesty, not only because his music is that good, but because he’s been a particular inspiration to me for over a decade. The first thing I heard of Perroches’ was An Droug Hirnez, which features Breton tunes in a chamber jazz setting, with piano, bass, cello, and winds accompanying the box. Very beautiful. That was about twelve years ago. Doing some research I found out that Perroches had been a member of the very prominent Breton group Skolvan since 1984. I sought out their work, as well. His work with Cocktail Diatonique was the first time I heard the sort of multi-accordion arrangements that are now redefining tradFrench (and tradBelgian) music. My favorite recording of his is the duo recording of Perroches with violinist Fañch Landreau, Daou Ha Daou. Something everyone should hear. All of this music, and more, can be found at Perroch’s site.
I should also mention that when I was starting out on the accordéon, Perroches very kindly corresponded with me and helped me work through some problems playing the basses. It’s worth noting that his tutorial is outstanding.
Listen to some of the man’s music, and celebrate.
A marvelous solo piece:
Scottish du Regret, perhaps Perroches’ best known composition: