Imuntzo eta Beloki - Ganbaran Bai
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Imuntzo eta Beloki
Ganbaran Bai (Urolako trikitixa)
Elkarlanean (

cd cover The Urola River valley is one of the regions of the Basque Country where the colourful rural Basque traditions are most alive, including eccentric rural sports, expressive country dialects, and of course authentic folk music. The Urola region is centred on the twin industrial towns of Azpeitia and Azkoitia, where Euskera is the everyday language. (Between these lies the dominant basilica dedicated to St. Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuit Order and the region's most famous son.)

On this recording, Imuntzo and Beloki dust off 23 trikitixa tunes from the Urola Valley and present them in a relatively pared-down delivery that evokes a simpler time. The tunes, both instrumental and vocal, were originally collected for a production on Radio Loiola in Azpeitia.

Imuntzo (Juan Ramon Azpitarte) plays four different trikitixak (diatonic accordions in C, A, B flat and C sharp). Beloki (Eleuterio Juaregi) sings and plays panderoak (tambourine) and castanets. Also on this record are Jimmy Arrabit (assorted rustic percussion including the accordion box) and Esme and Gotsone Sestorain (irrintzina a Basque yodel). Jean Phocas (also Oskorri's sound engineer) contributes his considerable talents to ensuring a professional sound.

The tunes are not dramatically developed in the contemporary sense, but are presented as-they might-have-been. So, effectively, what we have is a "field recording" made in state-of-the-art conditions by professional musicians in touch with an unbroken line of tradition.

There is a fair variety in tempo: "Munobide" is a toe-tapping dance that keeps you on the move; "Urrategi" is a sped-up waltz with irrintzina; "Pagausoa" is a dance with sung verses, a kopla zaharra (also with irrintzina).

Listening to Imuntzo and Beloki, you can see the rich wellspring of tunes from which many Basque contemporary artists such as Kepa Junkera, Oskorri, and Tapia eta Leturia gain inspiration: through which they bring the once somewhat closed world of the Basque mountain valleys to the wider world.

All of the notes and lyrics in the accompanying booklet are in Euskera only, making it tricky for the non-Bascophone listener to gain more context, or perhaps providing incentive to learn Basque. - David Cox

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