Ibon Koteron - Airea
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Ibon Koteron
Elkarlanean www.elkarlanean.com

cd cover The alboka is a double clarinet unique to the Basque country. Until recently this rare instrument was in danger of disappearance. In 1996 Basque alboka player (and philosophy teacher) Ibon Koteron teamed up with trikitixa whiz Kepa Junkera on Leonen Orroak, a tribute to their countryman Leon Bilbao (1916-1990) who helped keep the instrument alive.

Junkera may be the bright star of Basque music, but he takes the time to nurture other artists performing on traditional Basque instruments in new and often innovative ways (such as the txalaparta duo Oreka Tx). This time it's the alboka, featured in an album by Koteron, produced by and bearing the stamp of Junkera. The alboka is taken off the museum wall and integrated into a world music setting. This CD is a blend of traditional, popular (check out the heavy pop rhythms on the first-and-title track) and world-roots elements.

Airea moves from the high energy of "Lurraren Nigarra" to more contemplative pieces such as "Bakuna da Biderra." The toe-tapping "Nabilela" features the complex rhythms of the txalaparta and Galician vocal group Faltriquera. "Tsambouna" is a complex piece, one of several with echoes of Bizkaian koplas (traditional songs).

Airea not only highlights the alboka ("Txili Sauce" is a nice solo) but gives space to other instruments as well. The spotlight is shared with notable Basque artists such as vocalist Ruper Ordorika, and some fine international artists. These include Gilles Chabenat on hurdy gurdy; the Corsican group Soledona; the Armenian duduk player Roston Kuchichian and Finnish wind-instrument makers and players Pekka Westerholm and Heikki Syrjänen, founders of the World Mankeri Orchestra.

The focus throughout this ambitious and enjoyable work is a meditation on the past, present and future of the alboka, in which Koteron and friends produce moments of pure joy. - David Cox

CD available from cdRoots

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