Bivoac En Concert
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Bivoac
En Concert
CLR, France

Jazz and folk: this is a particular hybrid that, when it works, creates its own mood. Certainly the ECM label is the most recognized purveyor of this variety of border-crossing; and there are other worthwhile experiments to be found (Ronan Guilfoyle's Lingua Franca are one, and Pat Metheny and Anna Maria Jopek's recent Upojenie project both spring to mind). Bivoac are a new trio from Brittany that kick up a spectacular, jazz-drenched folk sound. The listener catches hints of the Breton tradition. None of the tunes are traditional, but written in accordance with folk forms (bourrees, hanter-dro, double plinn). Bivoac also have an affinity for the kind of improvisation one might expect to hear in French café culture.

I'm never a fan of live recordings, because too often I feel like a voyeur at a party. But live recordings allow bands to do several things: 1.) demonstrate genuine chops; 2.) show that they can have a good time live, even if you weren't there; and 3.) document their relationship with the audience. On Bivoac's recording, the audience does little more than express appreciation and some polite applause and hooting. But the musical chops are, indeed, much more in evidence. The album begins with 'John's Bourrees,' a tune begun on Ronan Le Gourierec's shrill bombard. Raphael Chevalier joins in on violin, and together with Ronan Robert's accordion work, they allow themselves to catch fire. In fact, Le Gourierec penned 'John's Bourrees' with John Coltrane's modal compositions in mind. 'J'ai Perdu Ma Montre' finds the band motoring along behind Robert's pumping accordion: the tune is a 'ridees 6 temps,' and the lyrics convey a sense of modernist absurdity: "I lost my watch!...," which fits well with the cyclical, incessant melody. Elsewhere, I am particularly fond of the slow bombard during 'Les Pains Penauds/Patate Douce' and the tune's lovely denouement. Jackanapes emerge on a song such as 'La Fille Nicole,' where the vocal fun borders on the annoying; but when the band honks and screeches through 'Plinn-Pong "La Belle,"' they're mining gold. The call-and-response so characteristic of Breton music pits vocals against the echoing music, at times reminiscent of drunk kazoo players, on 'La Femme Que J'Aime,', before the brass machine gasps its last. For a trio, Bivoac are one big band! - Lee Blackstone

The band's web site: bivoac.fr

CD available from cdRoots

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