Kepa Junkera - Galiza
The Basque trikitixa accordion player Kepa Junkera never tires of the "project album" - music tied together by an overriding musical theme but with a wide diversity of musical collaborators.
On Galiza, he visits the Celtic-influenced area in the North West corner of Iberia. (Though Celtic in culture, the Galician language itself is closer to Portuguese.) On this lavish, double CD package, with an illustrated 9" by 9" hard cover book, Junkera fully explores this musically fertile region through a collaboration with about 200 musicians. These include Uxia, Susana Seivane, members of Berroguetto (in Banda dos Crechas), Os Cempes, and Luar na Lubre, just to name a few.
Kepa Junkera, though Basque, is no stranger to Galician music, having toured and recorded with many Galician musicians in the past. Some of this was explored on his breakthrough disc, Bilbao 00:00h, the precursor to 2001's unique and stunning trikitixa disc, Maren. Since that time, I think his musical ideas have been too consumed by the projects he has envisaged; massive trilogies like Etxea-Herria-Kalea tend to lose focus and overwhelm the music, music that has often lacked bite.
At the same time, Junkera's wider interests may have made him somewhat marginal to the Basque-language music community, which tends to be very tight-knit. This despite the fact that he exports Basque musical styles and songs to the world at large and the Latin (non-Basque) world in particular. However, with this project, we can say that Junkera is back.
The invited Galician musicians accompany Junkera and txalapartaris (Basque percussionists) Inigo Olazabal, and Argibel Euba, and four Basque irrintzi (ululation) artists who provide solid background and continuity on this 23-track package. The recording stuns the listener from its first moments. The irrintzi and lonely, ethereal gaita of Cristina Pato, combined with the txalaparta of the Basques, and finally Junkera's instantly recognizable triki, which picks up on the jaw harp in the second track, draw the listener into this voyage. Budino's "Xota da Guia" is next, an irresistible three-minute dance with gaita, txalaparta, and trikitixa, marrying the Basque and Galician elements.
w/ Christina Pato
Then comes Leilia's contribution, "Danza a Pereiras (A Caniza) / Danza de Rubios/Muniera de Mangueiro" a Roma-influenced song, followed by Luar na Lubre, a Galician group that has followed Berroguetto and Milladoiro as the pre-eminent Galician folk-roots music exponent.
Moving along through the tracks, the listener will feel an unstoppable urge to move, to dance. You may not be able to identify the music, or the steps, but you can feel something is going on, it is, as my then-two year old daughter once described Maren, "catch, bouncy and up-and-down." And with these Galician musicians Junkera seems to have recovered this spirit. Once again, we can see why he is one of the world's great practitioners of 'Hell's Bellows,' as his playing is at its liveliest.
Other highlights, and there are many, include Seivane's gaita tracks, the jaw harp-triki duets, Uxia's vocal on "Unha Noite na Eira do Trigo" andů
But citing great moments is to detract from a two-disc set that, despite the diversity of musicians, has remarkable coherence. Of his 20-some recordings over 25 years, Galiza stands at or near the top. - David Cox The artist's web site: www.kepajunkera.com
CD available at cdRoots
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