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Xabi Solano Maiza

The Orchard Music
Review by David Cox

Rock, pop and trikitixa (Basque traditional accordion) blend in what is technically Xabi Solano’s first solo album, a 14-track tribute to the people, the lands and the music of the Urumea valley area above Donostia-San Sebastian.

The trikitixa or diatonic accordion is really the “electric guitar of the Basques” and its practitioners (including Solano, Xabi Arakama (Obrint Pas), Josune Arakistain (Huntza), Ines Osinaga (Gose), Asier Gozategi…) are rock stars in their own country, along with the punk rock scene and so on.

Solano, veteran of a number of musical incarnations including Esne Beltza, is a prolific recording artist and one of the Basque Country’s top accordion stars. Accordingly, this album is a blend of pop oriented tunes with bass and drums, such as “Etxe Alai” as well as more traditional dances with the accordion and tambourine featured, such as Oialumen”.

“Bidasoatik Harago” opens the CD with a rockin’ trikitixa, with Haritz Beristain on drums and Aitor Zabaleta on bass. “Orratzak” (Hands of Time) is filled with energy and spirit, while “Azken Udazken” with Gorka Sarriegi on vocals is lovely.

“Nere Mundu Polit Txiki Hontan” is the best tune on the album, with backing trumpet, trombone and mandolin. As well, the sweet title song Erenotzu, concludes the disc is a tribute to the village of the same name, near Hernani, in which David Soler plays pedal steel, is almost country.

The most political track on the album “Hernani Antifa” speaks of the occupation of the town in 1936 and its aftermath:”In 36 Hernani was in the hands of the Francoists; priests and pregnant women were shot in the cemetery: we remember it as if it was yesterday.”

Key collaborators also include Harkaitz Miner on mandolin, Xabier Azkarate on percussion and Zigor Lampre (DZ) (scratches and samples); guests include vocalists Sorginak on vocals “Erre zentizuzten,” and Kepa Junkera on accordion and percussion in “Mairuelegorreta.”

Solano seamlessly blends the more traditional tunes such as “Pikoetxeberri,” a porrusalda, in with the more “popular” tracks.

Overall, in what amounts to a diatonic accordion clinic, Solano explores the possibilities of the instrument for a variety of genres. He’s an amazing player, but his genius is that he sees the accordion as an exciting, groundbreaking instrument, across genres. Jon Garmendi “Txuria” contributes most of the lyrics. The disc is available on its own, or with the book "Trikitixa Liburua II," which has the accordion parts for the songs. - David Cox

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