L'Occidentale de Fanfare - Hopopop
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L'Occidentale de Fanfare
Daqui, France

cd cover
Imagine if Austin-based power trio Drums and Tuba quintupled their size and moved to Brittany. What you'd have is something like L'Occidentale de Fanfare... but not exactly. While many bands claim to "defy categorization," L'OdeF actually does. The fifteen-member French band puts forth a huge brassy sound that's not quite jazz, not quite folk, not quite avant-garde, and yet it's all of these things. A full complement of brass, reeds, and drums, along with bombardes, bagpipes, and accordion combine in a sound that can only be described as controlled chaos. While the arrangements are as cohesive and creative as any Duke Ellington chart, the solos go off into such wondrously noisy flights of fancy that it's a thing of beauty when they float back to earth (or land with a thud - either way it's great.) "Rose" is a swirling bourree that starts with a rhapsodic, ear-piercing piccolo solo. The accordion establishes a rhythmic groove that is picked up and layered by bombarde and brass. A jagged bari sax solo caps the piece. The keening "La Novia," with its mournful pipes, sax, and bombarde segues into the contrapuntal wall of sound that is "La Belle est au le Jardin d'Amour." More fine sax soloing on this one. They visit Morocco with "Maa'rif," with its sinuous clarinet solo over tuba ostinato. This is big, exuberant music with definite bite. For listeners who are into serious fun only. - Peggy Latkovich

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