Over 28 years, Basque diatonic accordionist (trikitilari) Kepa Junkera has made two dozen full-length recordings, including world music landmarks Bilbao 00:00 (1999), Maren (2001) and Galiza (2013), and worked with a who’s who of musicians across Spain, Latin America and worldwide.
From his days as a young champion trikitilari, Junkera has taken his instrument around the world in a number of new directions, and returned to Basque Country. Maletak –suitcases – is about these travels.
On Maletak, Junkera presents 17 new tracks and almost 80 minutes of music that features the trikitixa (Basque diatonic accordion), working alongside Sorginak, an eight-member female vocal and percussion group, and a wide array of musical invitees.
Those following Junkera’s career will recognize old friends such as Ibon Koteron (alboka) and Oreka TX (txalaparta). With his second Sorginak collaboration, the signature Junkera sound has the added variety of this vocal group. With text by Basque poets such as Andoni Egana and Jon Maia, Junkera returns to the landscapes and seascapes he explored in 2001’s Maren.
Maletak contains a nice mix of vocal and instrumental tracks. In “Marea Zumaian” Maia’s text is the point from which Junkera and Sorginak set out on their odyssey. This is the easiest access point and can be enjoyed through this stunning video featuring the group at Itzurun beach, in the Basque town of Zumaia. On “Mikeldi” Antonio Serrano on harmonica shares the spotlight with Junkera.
It’s good to hear the energy of the txalaparta again, combined with Junkera’s trikitixa, on tracks such as “Sandinderi” – reminiscent of some of Junkera’s work on 2003’s Hiri. Listeners will also note on several tracks the Basque “irrintzi” – a singular kind of Pyrennean yodel. On “Errekarriak” Junkera, Sorginak, and Oreka TX, combine on a moment of thumping Basque percussion and accordion magic.
Through all of this Junkera weaves his usual virtuoso magic, perfecting a sub-genre he practically reinvented, in another project that, typical of this artists, involves collaborations too numerous to list. Jose Luis Monton and Josete Ordonez, Spanish guitarists, on “Pottokak” and “Sukarrieta” respectively, have some delectable moments.
A tribute to suitcases? So be it. Complex in its execution, positive in its message, with Maletak Junkera adds to his legacy in this considerable new work. - David Cox
Find Kepa Junkera online.