Kepa Junkera Fok
Artist release - (www.kepajunkera.eus)
Review by David Cox
Kepa Junkera, the prolific Basque diatonic accordionist, has put together another work of great breadth, this time exploring the folk music of the Catalan-speaking lands of Western Mediterranean.
Over the past 30 years, Junkera has released or been featured on about two dozen recordings, collaborations and special projects, not to mention his appearances with other musicians. Certainly his overall oeuvre is somewhat uneven, perhaps by design, however his most important and lasting works do constitute quite a legacy.
Fok’s 34 tracks (41 including bonus tracks available on itunes) explore a wealth of music across Catalonia itself, and also the Valencian Country, the Balearic Islands as well as Alguero (L’Alguer) a Catalan-speaking city on the island of Sardinia (Andorra and Southern France also have Catalan speakers, but aren’t noted here).
As he did with his Galiza album, Junkera brings musicians from his home – Basque Country – as well, joining local folk musicians in a look at the folk and traditional music of these areas.
Fire (fok in Catalan) is a part of the tradition in many of the fiestas in this area, and Junkera’s trikitixa accordion is on fire on a multiplicity of tracks. He joins such noted featured musicians as the inimitable Miquel Gil (former singer of Valencian legends Al Tall), and the legendary bard Pep Gimeno Botifarra (of Xativa, Valencia).
"Canco de Pandero"
with Miquel Gil, Guillem Ballaz, Marta Ruis
In Catalunya he works with the venerable group El Pont d’Arcalis, the small orchestra Cobla Sant Jordi of Barcelona; in the Balearics, Germans Martorell, and in Sardinia, Tenori di Orosei, just to name a few.
The album contains a number of cants de batre, jotas, polcas and cobles, to use their local variant names, some classic Junkera “Nondik Jo Maurizia” and some national hymns such as “Els Segadors” and “La Muixeranga.” (See videos below.) The tracks are mostly, but not exclusively, of traditional origin. Emblematic is the first track, “Cant de Batre de Comtat” featuring the expressive voice of Apa (Josep Aparicio), with the trikitixa, the alboka and the txalaparta, fusing Catalan and Basque elements.
"Cant de Batre del Comtat"
with Cobla Sant Jordi
With such a wide variety on offer, suffice it to say that Junkera brings his usual brilliant powerful and energetic playing to the project.
From the Basque Country and also participating here are Junkera’s longtime collaborators including Ibon Koteron (alboka) and the vocalists Sorginak, and numerous irrintzilariak (Basque yodelers for want of a better description).
"Jota de Sella"
Mixed by Junkera himself as well as Mikel F. Krutzaga, the well-known Basque studio engineer; the beautifully produced album was recorded all around the Catalan areas including Tarragona, Lleida, Barcelona, Xativa, Girona; Sardinia, and the Basque Country.
With Fok under his belt he’s come back to the Basque Country for a much more mundane project, a musical tribute to Father Arizmendiarrieta, father of the Mondragon Cooperative System.