Tag Archives: Zydeco

Artist Profiles: Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

Jeffrey Broussard

Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys hail from Southwest Louisiana. They have a fresh approach to the Creole dance music traditions they are dedicated to preserving. Its leader accordionist fiddler and singer Jeffery Broussard was a mainstay in the famous Zydeco Force a group that took zydeco and Cajun roots and updated them for modern dance crowds without losing the feel of the original Creole zydeco gumbo.

Broussard’s Creole Cowboys take the music into the next generation still linked to the great roots music of such masters as legendary fiddler Canray Fontenot and Jeffery’s well-known accordionist father Delton Broussard. Joining Jeffery in the band’s frontline is fiddler and guitarist D’Jalma Garnier III a one-time student of Canray Fontenot.

Jeffrey Broussard & The Creole Cowboys

With Fontenot’s passing in 1995, Garnier made it his mission to keep alive and spread this unique style of fiddle playing. The band’s debut CD Keeping the Tradition Alive was named top zydeco album of 2007 by Blues and Soul magazine.

Share

Artist Profiles: Geno Delafose

Geno Delafose

Hailing from the small town of Eunice, deep in Southwest Louisiana’s bayou country, Geno Delafose learned music at the age of seven in his father’s legendary John Delafose & the Eunice Playboys ensemble.

Delafose and his house-rocking band, French Rockin’ Boogie, have tapped the wealth of inspiration found in the traditional Cajun and Creole repertoires and created their own rich gumbo of Cajun, zydeco, r&b, country and blues.

By taking his explosive live show to nearly 2 arts centers, festivals and nightclubs each year, Geno Delafose has undeniably earned his place as one of the best performers of Zydeco.

Zydeco music is an upbeat blend of African, Caribbean and Cajun music. It is the music indigenous to the Creole culture of Southwest Louisiana. The word Zydeco is derived from the French word for snap beans ‘Les haricots’, which points to the early roots of this music being performed when the fields were being harvested. Modern zydeco has evolved to take on many influences.

Zydeco’s infectious accordion and rubboard driven-party-all-night sound that was born in the bayou and dance halls of southwest Louisiana and raised to a new level by the late Clifton Chenier, is now being heard and appreciated throughout the metropolitan area and around the world.

Discography

French Rockin’ Boogie (Rounder, 1994)
That’s What I’m Talkin’ About! (Rounder, 1996)
La Chanson Perdue (Rounder, 1998)
Everybody’s Dancin’ (Times Square, 2003)
Creole Bred: A Tribute to Creole & Zydeco (Vanguard Records, 2004)
Le Cowboy Creole (Times Square, 2007)

Share

Artist Profiles: Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco’s powerful live shows were legendary for the fun and abandon they inspired. It was the first Zydeco band to land a major record label deal, the first to perform on a national television show, the first to have its music featured in major motion pictures, TV shows and national TV commercials, the first to record with top rock musicians and the first to introduce Zydeco to the music mainstream.

Leader, Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. was born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French, and by playing and dancing to Zydeco. This hybrid genre blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles’ white neighbors.

As the son of a Zydeco accordionist, Buckwheat grew up steeped in this culture, and also absorbed Lafayette’s ample outpouring of blues and Gulf Coast “swamp pop.” He began his professional career as an R&B sideman, playing keyboards for Joe Tex, Barbara Lynn and Gatemouth Brown. In 1971, Dural began leading his own R&B band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, playing the contemporary sounds of such popular bands as Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind &Fire. The group scored a regional hit with “It’s Hard to Get.”

By the mid-1970s, South Louisiana began to experience a grass-roots cultural renaissance as Zydeco and Cajun music, once scorned as overly ethnic, gained appreciation as treasured cultural resources. As the demand grew for Zydeco bands, Dural was offered a gig playing organ for the “King of Zydeco,” the late Clifton Chenier. Buck (as he was also known) worked hard and learned all that he could. After three years of touring, recording and accordion apprenticeship, he left in 1979 to lead his own group, Buckwheat Zydeco and the ils Sont Partis Band. Like Chenier, Buckwheat continued to blend traditional Creole Zydeco with the latest black-contemporary styles, drawing on all of his rich and varied musical experience.

Recording prolifically for various independent labels, Dural attracted the attention of music journalist Ted Fox, who became his manager and co-producer. In 1987, Fox arranged Buckwheat’s signing with Island Records, and he became the first Zydeco artist to appear on a major label. This resulted in the band’s fourth Grammy nomination. During the years of critical acclaim that ensued, Buckwheat Zydeco toured constantly, headlining at major venues as well as sharing stages with the likes of U2 and Eric Clapton, and even The Boston Pops. Clapton also recorded as a special guest with Buckwheat Zydeco – as did Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – on some of his numerous projects that followed.

 

Buckwheat Zydeco

 

The band performed at both of President Clinton’s inaugurals, and Buck was featured on the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta before a worldwide television audience of three billion.

Another first project for Buckwheat Zydeco was the release of the band’s lively children’s album, Choo Choo Boogaloo, on the Music For Little People label which has won numerous awards and rave reviews. It features zydeco originals as well as classics such as “Iko, Iko,”“Cotton Fields,”“Little Red Caboose,” and “Skip To My Lou.” In the spirit of creating a genuine family feeling people of all ages contributed to the music, including a talented young people’s gospel choir from Baton Rouge.

Buckwheat Zydeco celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing an exciting and joyous retrospective album. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 2-Year Party, a compilation of the band’s best recordings, was released on Buckwheat’s own Tomorrow Recordings label on July 6, 1999. It features 74 minutes of music on one disc as well as comprehensive liner notes in a 16-page booklet in a slipcased package. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 2-Year Party, is the definitive album, and only multi-label retrospective, of the band that has led the campaign to spread the exuberant sounds of Louisiana’s Zydeco music around the world.

The album’s cover features an unforgettable image of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. in front of the tiny boyhood home he shared with eleven brothers and sisters in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is both a tribute to his roots and a statement of how far he and the Creole music he loves have come. The album’s colorful original art was created by award-winning Jackson, MS artist H.C. Porter whose work is exhibited in shows and museums around the country.

The 1999 studio recording, Trouble, was released on Tomorrow Recordings on January 12, 1999. Buck felt strongly that this was his best album in a dozen years. Perhaps more aptly titled than Buck even knew, Trouble was originally released in May of 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic just as Mesa was undergoing a shake-up. Unsatisfied with the results of the original release – and unwilling to give up on what they felt was one of the band’s key albums – Dural and Ted Fox, convinced Atlantic to revert the album to them.

On Trouble, Buckwheat decided to concentrate on the skilled players within his band, and revisit the live-on-the-bandstand feel of the Zydeco and R&B dance halls where he first learned his craft.

Stanley Dural, Jr. died September 24, 2016.

 

 

Discography

One For The Road (Blues Unlimited Records, 1979)
100% Fortified Zydeco (Black Top Records, 1983)
Turning Point (Rounder Records, 1983)
Waitin’ For My Ya Ya (Rounder Records, 1985)
On a Night Like This (Island Records, 1987)
Taking It Home (Island Records, 1988)
Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire (MCA Special Products, 1990)
Buckwheat’s Zydeco Party (Rounder Records, 1992)
On Track (Atlantic Records, 1992)
Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection (Mango Records, 1993)
Choo Choo Boogaloo (Music For Little People, 1994)
Five Card Stud (Island Records, 1994)
Trouble (Tomorrow Recordings, 1997)
Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party (Tomorrow Recordings, 1999)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O Records, 2000)
Down Home Live (Tomorrow Recordings, 2001 )
Classics (Rounder Records 116 612 177-2, 2003)
Jackpot! (Tomorrow Recordings, 2005)
The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco: Millennium Collection (Island Records, 2006)
Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator Records, 2009)
Let The Good Times Roll: Essential Recordings (Rounder Records, 29)
Bayou Boogie (Music for Little People, 2010)

Share

Artist Profiles: C. J. Chenier

C. J. Chenier

Zydeco star C. J. Chenier was born on September 28, 1957 in Port Arthur, Texas, right next to the Louisiana state line. He has been called “The Crown Prince of Zydeco” by various music publications. According to Chenier, leader of the famous Red Hot Louisiana band, those titles are fine, but the truth lies in the music. “What we’re playing here are real songs,” he says proudly “Songs that tell stories and make you dance.”

That clarification is important to C.J. It is a lesson he learned from his father, acclaimed zydeco pioneer Clifton Chenier. C.J.’s music has always embraced zydeco traditions, but he continues to push the music to new levels. “I won’t limit myself,” says C.J., and it’s clear why.

C.J. was aware of his father’s music but also had other tastes. He liked James Brown and Funkadelic, John Coltrane and Miles Davis. C.J. learned saxophone early on and as a teenager played in black top 40 bands in Port Arthur. He studied music in college and dreamed of making it as a jazz or funk player.

Then, one week before C.J.’s 21st birthday, Clifton asked him to bring his sax along and join the Red Hot Louisiana Band. “I didn’t know any of the songs they played,” he recalls, “but the guys helped me out and brought me along. And then one day the music hit me, and I knew this is what I wanted to do.” In 1985, as the effects of diabetes began to seriuosly affect his father, C.J., at Clifton’s request, picked up the accordion and started opening the shows. “He didn’t push it,” C.J. remembers. “He let me decide for myself. But when he first called me to go out and play with his band, I think it was his idea all along that I would carry on his music.

After Clifton’s death in 1987, C.J. inherited his father’s accordion as well as the Red Hot Louisiana Band. But he took his father’s music and built upon it, adding elements of jazz and funk he grew up with. When asked about his accordion playing, C.J. is quick to defer to his father, whom “nobody could ever touch,” says C.J.

C.J. Chenier and the Red Hot Louisiana Band continued to forge ahead, releasing three solo albums (one on Arhoolie and two on Slash) and playing hundreds of concerts a year. They attracted the attention of fans, critics, and fellow musicians by playing major festivals like the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, San Diego’s Street scene, and Milwaukee’s Summerfest. Singer-songwriter Paul Simon noticed C.J., and picked him to play on his Rhythm Of The Saints album and then asked him to join the “Born At The Right Time” tour. But that’s not all. He also shows up as a guest on the Gin Blossoms’ New Miserable Experience album.

C.J.’s next step led him to Alligator Records, the label where his father won a Grammy award for his album, I’m Here (it was also the first Grammy for the then new label).

C.J.’s label debut, Too Much Fun, became a favorite with fans and critics alike. Living Blues magazine, in their 1996 Critics’ Awards, named Too Much Fun Best Zydeco Album of 1995. Features ran in major newspapers and magazines everywhere, including The Chicago Tribune, Billboard, Blues Revue and The Los Angeles Times.

1995 appearances on the Jon Stewart Show and CNN brought C.J.’s music to his widest audience yet. But all this attention didn’t change his philosophy toward his music. “You go to a gig by a jazz band,” he says, “and everybody’s sitting down, sipping drinks. You play zydeco and you see shoes flying off. You can’t come to my show and stay unhappy all night long. You’re going to break a smile and stomp your foot before too long. This is happy music, and it makes you dance.”

C.J. Chenier recorded his 2011 album Can’t Sit Down live, in just one session, at Rock Romano’s Red Shack Studio in Houston, Texas. His goal was to capture the freshness of his music. and this is why he decided to produce the album himself.“I figured that nobody knows better what I want than I do,”he says. “Nobody knows better how I want my accordion to sound. Nobody knows better how I want my band to sound. So I decided to stop going with other people’s ears and start going with my own.”

Can’t Sit Down includes pieces by C.J. ‘s father,  Clifton Chenier, including the opening track ‘Can’t Sit down’. “I really liked it so I said, OK, let’s try this one,‘and everybody fell right in. It just clicked. That’s a sign that something is a keeper, when everybody can fall in and it feels good.”

One of C.J, Chenier’s original compositions is a tribute to his uncle, Cleveland Chenier. “He’s the grandfather of the washboard, “ says C.J. “Nobody has the technique he had. My uncle Cleveland used to call me sometimes on Sundays and he’d say,  I’m coming to pick you up. We’re gonna take a ride.’We’d go ride around. He’d always have a half pint of Crown Royale in his top coat pocket. He’d pick me up on Sundays and him and me would hit a club here and hit a club there, and just have a good time.”

Curtis Mayfield’s “We Gotta Have Peace”closes the album. “That song reflects what I’ve been feeling,”C.J. says. “We need peace, we gotta have it. That’s why I have my grandson talking in the beginning, because if we don’t get it together, where is his future?

Discography:

My Baby Don’t Wear No Shoes (Arhoolie, 1988)

Hot Rod (Slash, 1990)

I Ain’t No Playboy (Slash, 1992)

Too Much Fun (Alligator Records 1995)

The Big Squeeze (Alligator Records AL 4844, 1996)

Step It Up! (Alligator Records 2001)

The Desperate Kingdom of Love (Word Village 46841, 2006)

Can’t Sit Down (World Village 46819, 2011)

Live at 2012 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2012)

Live at 2013 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2013)

Live at 2014 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2014)

Live at 2015 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Mix, 2015)

Live at the 2016 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival (Munck Music, 2016)

Share

Zydeco Master Stanley ‘Buckwheat’ Dural Dies at 68

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural passed away on September 24 at Our Lady of Lourdes Regional Medical Center in Lafayette, Louisiana. He was 68 years old. Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural was the leader of one of the greatest Zydeco bands, Buckwheat Zydeco.

Buckwheat Zydeco’s powerful live shows were legendary for the fun and abandon they inspired. It was the first Zydeco band to land a major record label deal, the first to perform on a national television show, the first to have its music featured in major motion pictures, TV shows and national TV commercials, the first to record with top rock musicians and the first to introduce Zydeco to the music mainstream.

Buckwheat Zydeco embodied a genre and represented a community with his signature playing style that brought distinctly creole zydeco music to fans across the globe. Buckwheat played both for and with legends, performing at both Clinton inaugurations, touring with Eric Clapton, and collaborating with a seemingly endless list of artists over his 40-plus year career. He won an Emmy for his work in TV and a GRAMMY in the genre he helped define. The world lost a music heavyweight today. Our thoughts go out to his family and friends,” said Neil Portnow, President/CEO of The Recording Academy.

Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. was born in 1947 in Lafayette, Louisiana, a close-knit community where many black people express their Creole heritage by speaking French, and by playing and dancing to Zydeco. This hybrid genre blends Afro-Caribbean rhythms, and blues, with soul, rock, country and the French-rooted Cajun music of the Creoles’ white neighbors.

As the son of a Zydeco accordionist, Buckwheat grew up steeped in this culture, and also absorbed Lafayette’s ample outpouring of blues and Gulf Coast “swamp pop.” He began his professional career as an R&B sideman, playing keyboards for artists such as Joe Tex, Barbara Lynn and Clarence Gatemouth Brown.
In 1971, Dural began leading his own R&B and funk band, Buckwheat and the Hitchhikers, playing the contemporary sounds of popular bands like Parliament Funkadelic and Earth, Wind &Fire. The group achieved a regional hit with “It’s Hard to Get.”

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

By the mid-1970s, South Louisiana began to experience a grass-roots cultural renaissance as Zydeco and Cajun music, once scorned as overly ethnic, gained appreciation as treasured cultural resources. As the demand grew for Zydeco bands, Dural was offered a gig playing organ for the “King of Zydeco,” the late Clifton Chenier. Buck (as he was also known) worked hard and learned all that he could. After three years of touring, recording and accordion apprenticeship, he left in 1979 to lead his own group, Buckwheat Zydeco and the ils Sont Partis Band. Like Chenier, Buckwheat continued to blend traditional Creole Zydeco with the latest black-contemporary styles, drawing on all of his rich and varied musical experience.

Recording prolifically for various independent labels, Dural attracted the attention of music journalist Ted Fox, who became his manager and co-producer. In 1987, Fox arranged Buckwheat’s signing with Island Records, and he became the first Zydeco artist to appear on a major label. This resulted in the band’s fourth Grammy nomination.

During the years of critical acclaim that has ensued, Buckwheat Zydeco toured constantly, headlining at major venues as well as sharing stages with the likes of U2 and Eric Clapton, and even The Boston Pops. Clapton also recorded as a special guest with Buckwheat Zydeco – as did Willie Nelson, Mavis Staples, Dwight Yoakam and David Hidalgo of Los Lobos – on some of his numerous projects that followed.

The band performed at both of President Clinton’s inaugurals, and Buck was featured on the Closing Ceremonies of the Summer Olympics in Atlanta before a worldwide television audience of three billion.

Stanley "Buckwheat" Dural
Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural

Another first project for Buckwheat Zydeco was the release of the band’s lively children’s album, Choo Choo Boogaloo, on the Music For Little People label which won numerous awards and rave reviews. It features zydeco originals as well as classics such as “Iko, Iko,””Cotton Fields,””Little Red Caboose,” and “Skip To My Lou.” In the spirit of creating a genuine family feeling people of all ages contributed to the music, including a talented young people’s gospel choir from Baton Rouge.

Buckwheat Zydeco celebrated its 20th anniversary by releasing a retrospective album. The Buckwheat Zydeco Story – A 20-Year Party, a compilation of the band’s best recordings, was released on Buckwheat’s own Tomorrow Recordings label on July 6, 1999. It features 74 minutes of music on one disc as well as comprehensive liner notes in a 16-page booklet in a slipcased package.

The album’s cover features an unforgettable image of Stanley “Buckwheat” Dural, Jr. in front of the tiny boyhood home he shared with eleven brothers and sisters in Lafayette, Louisiana. It is both a tribute to his roots and a statement of how far he and the Creole music he loves have come. The album’s colorful original art was created by award-winning Jackson, MS artist H.C. Porter whose work is exhibited in shows and museums around the United States.

The studio recording, Trouble, was released on Tomorrow Recordings on January 12, 1999. Buck felt strongly that this was his best album in a dozen years. Perhaps more aptly titled than Buck even knew, Trouble was originally released in May of 1997 by Mesa/Atlantic just as Mesa was undergoing a shake-up. Unsatisfied with the results of the original release – and unwilling to give up on what they felt was one of the band’s key albums – Dural and Ted Fox, convinced Atlantic to revert the album to them.

On Trouble, Buckwheat decided to concentrate on the skilled players within his band, and revisit the live-on-the-bandstand feel of the Zydeco and R&B dance halls where he first learned his craft.

Discography:

One For The Road (Blues Unlimited Records, 1979)
Take It Easy, Baby (Blues Unlimited Records, 1980)
Peoples Choice (Blues Unlimited Records, 1982)
100% Fortified Zydeco (Black Top Records, 1983)
Turning Point (Rounder Records, 1983)
Ils Sont Partis (Blues Unlimited Records, 1984)
Waitin’ For My Ya Ya (Rounder Records, 1985)
On a Night Like This (Island Records, 1987)
Taking It Home (Island Records, 1988)
Where Theres Smoke Theres Fire (MCA Records|MCA Special Products, 1990)
Buckwheats Zydeco Party (Rounder Records, 1992)
On Track (Atlantic Records, 1992)
Menagerie: The Essential Zydeco Collection (Mango Records, 1993)
Choo Choo Boogaloo (Music For Little People, 1994)
Five Card Stud (Island Records, 1994)
The Best Of Louisiana Zydeco (Avi Entertainment, 1996)
Trouble (Tomorrow Recordings, 1997)
Buckwheat Zydeco Story: A 20 Year Party (Tomorrow Recordings, 1999)
The Ultimate Collection (Hip-O Records, 2000)
Down Home Live (Tomorrow Recordings, 2001)
Classics (Rounder Records, 2003)
Jackpot! (Tomorrow Recordings, 2005)
The Best of Buckwheat Zydeco: Millennium Collection (Island Records, 2006)
Lay Your Burden Down (Alligator Records, 2009)
Let The Good Times Roll: Essential Recordings (Rounder Records, 2009)

Share

Tradition and Getting Around it

Being a self-styled traditionalist doesn’t mean my musical tastes are so staunch that I shun any sonic adventurousness that steps over traditional boundaries. Cross the line into an over-reliance on gimmickry (which can take the form of too much technology or pop pandering for commercial purposes), and you’ve lost me. Taking chances by mixing traditions or styles in ways that leave musical integrity unscathed? You’ve got my attention.

 

Aziza Brahim - Abbar el Hamada
Aziza Brahim – Abbar el Hamada

 

Aziza Brahim, a Sahrawi woman who was born in an Algerian refugee camp as the war over the Western Sahara region was raging, doesn’t exactly go in for traditional Sahrawi music on Abbar el Hamada (Glitter Beat, 2016). Having lived and studied in Cuba and currently a citizen of Spain, some of her songs have an expected, and very welcome, Iberian and Latin edge. She even sings in Spanish for much of the album, the title of which refers to rocky desert landscapes and subject-wise deals with activist concerns like the ongoing plight of the Sahrawi.

The disc also digs into a measure of the “desert blues” sound that many Saharan musicians have become known for, as well as a few galloping rhythms that suggest a more laid back version of Senegalese m’balax (which has always had its own Latin flavors).

 

 

Brahim isn’t as frequent in her use of wailing, undulating tones as a lot singers with Arabic roots tend to be. Her approach is more pensive, but she sharpens her tone when needed, and partly because she also plays the bowl-shaped tbal drum while she sings, her voice fits the grooves as naturally as the grooves themselves, be they acoustic or electric. A stunning release all around.

 

Ana Alcaide - Leyenda
Ana Alcaide – Leyenda

 

She’s already a groundbreaker for use of the Swedish nyckelharpa (keyed viola) in the music of her native Spain, and now Ana Alcaide takes things a few steps further with Leyenda- World Music Inspired by Feminine Legends (ARC Music, 2016). Female folkloric characters from various cultures (including Spain, Mexico, China, Scotland and Alcaide’s own imagination) are celebrated in songs that range from lullaby-like softness to ritualistic and pulsating.

Nyckelharpa, baroque guitars and bouzouki are sweetened with other strings, reeds, percussion and celestial production values that surround Alcaide’s gracefully penetrating vocals and construct a pair of instrumentals that seem to tell otherworldly tales without any words at all. This is music that could serve as a soundtrack for any ancient or modern fantasy worth conjuring, or bring about just enough of a dream state to take you blissfully away from reality for a while. Either way, it’s stunning.

 

Money Chicha - Echo En Mexico
Money Chicha – Echo En Mexico

 

Chicha, the Peruvian-originated, organ-tweaked, fuzz guitar-laden psychedelic style of music with similarities to Colombian cumbia and Jamaican dub, continues on its revival path courtesy of Austin-based band Money Chicha. Their debut album Echo En Mexico (Vampisoul, 2016) is an irresistibly throbbing beat fest where unyielding layers of Latin percussion support keyboards, guitars and bass that are as trippy in their wall of sound as they are intertwined in their tightness. And tightness is indeed the key.

The chicha sound is one that must not lag in its skipping rhythms or spot-on melodic mesh that weighs in somewhere between surf rock, alternative Latin, Andean tradition, the ghost of Arsenio Rodriguez and music that simply wouldn’t appeal to polite society in Lima, Bogota or, well, Austin. Money Chicha go their own way by eliminating vocals entirely and giving the tracks a subtle funk push with a little extra breathing room among the instruments, resulting in a disc that satisfies to the frenzied max.

 

Nii Okai Tagoe - West to West
Nii Okai Tagoe – West to West

 

Lovers of African drumming and African music in general will happily tune in to West to West (ARC Music, 2016) by Nii Okai Tagoe. He’s a master of many a drum and percussion instrument affiliated with the Motherland and treads a beaten (beating?) path away from tradition by lacing his danceable pieces with horns, keyboards, violin, harp, bass and guitar.

Some unexpected turns are taken with arrangements as well, such as the blues sway of “3 Monkeys.” Not surprising for a gent who’s played with outfits as diverse as Baka Beyond and African Head Charge. This sort of thing has been done before, but Tagoe certainly does it spot-on.

 

Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus - Chiaroscuro
Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus – Chiaroscuro

 

A very different take on percussion and its relationship to the human voice can be heard on Chiaroscuro (Bent Records, 2016) a collaboration involving Baird Hersey & Prana with Nexus. Nexus is a virtuosic percussion ensemble; Prana is a group of singers who all specialize in singing two pitches simultaneously. That dual pitch knack helped inspire Garry Kvistad of Nexus to invent the vistaphone, four octaves worth of chimes gathered into one instrument and the perfect companion to the harmonic series scale of notes that the singers use to achieve their second level of vocal prowess.

The grandiosely-titled tracks on the album (“The Rituals of Dusk,” A Crown of Radiant Fire,” etc.) combine orchestral drums, gongs, glockenspiel, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, voices and the debuting vistaphone to create music that I can only describe as equal parts refined and primal, rhythmic and atmospheric, structured and seemingly spontaneous, eerie and comforting, earthy and not of this earth. Repeating patterns of percussion and wordless voices ascend to mesmerizing heights and hover there, exploring in sonic terms the disc’s titular concept of light and dark contrasting yet harmonizing.

The three concluding compositions (including a mind-and-ear-altering Balinese monkey chant) are voices unaccompanied and lose nothing in the absence of their percussive counterparts. So is this disc the pinnacle of traditional music, the complete lack of it or something else altogether? Get it and decide for yourself. And prepare to be spellbound.

 

9Bach Anian
9Bach – Anian

 

I don’t know a great deal about traditional Welsh music and thus can’t say how closely 9Bach adheres to it with their latest release, Anian (Real World, 2016). But I am quite taken with the shimmery emotiveness of singer/pianist/composer/lyricist Lisa Jen’s lead vocals, as well as the sparse yet very sturdy support her bandmates offer on guitar, bass, percussion, harp, hammer dulcimer and harmonies.

 

 

While some of the instruments used reportedly stray from tradition, the end result is a perfect fit, with modern production adding a kind of cool mist to softly enveloping music that often has a melancholy, longing feel offset by pure beauty. Anian is one to savor repeatedly.

There’s also a bonus disc, Yn Dy Lais (In Your Voice), that features Welsh-influenced poetry and storytelling rendered in English by the likes of Peter Gabriel and Rhys Ifans. It’s meant to make the nuances of the Welsh language more accessibly artsy and is worth a listen, but the lovely sounds on the first disc are the true reason to get this album.

 

Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars - Gulfstream
Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars – Gulfstream

 

A world away but still bringing tradition to a different level, Roddie Romero and the Hub City All-Stars take music with roots as old as the Louisiana bayou itself and jolt it full of rock, soul, blues, zydeco and funk energy. Gulfstream (Octavia Records, 2016) is a swampy, sultry, swaggering, sizzling slab of deep-south musical gumbo that will delight anyone who loves the celebratory sounds of New Orleans and Lafayette and appreciates the need to cool down for a ballad like the Aaron Neville-ish title track. It’s a party, albeit from the heart.

 

Richard Bona - Heritage
Richard Bona – Heritage

 

Richard Bona, the “African Sting,” melds his smooth Cameroonian roots music with the sounds of Afro-Cuban band Mandekan Cubano on Heritage (Qwest Records, 2016). African and Latin musical traditions have been best friends for a long, long time thanks to their shared origins, and Mandekan Cubano’s piano, dual percussion, trumpet and trombone lineup expertly underpins Bona’s joyous salsa-infused numbers and his softer side. Primarily a bassist but adept on numerous instruments, Bona adds unexpected touches like electric sitar to the range of Afro-Latin delights that comprise a very fine release.

 

Luisa Maita - Fio da Memoria
Luisa Maita – Fio da Memoria

 

Brazilian music, a familiar world staple for decades, has more recently been fused with electronica to degrees that some traditionalists have accepted and others rejected. Put me in the former category. It’s telling that Luisa Maita waited six years since her first album to put out a followup; perhaps she wanted to see how the Brazilian/electronica scene would play out in the interim. Her sophomore release Fio da Memoria (Cumbancha, 2016) has the breathy, sensual feel that’s nearly a given when it comes to female Brazilian singers, and the tunes roll out on a foundation of grooves rooted in samba, even if they’re not always rendered on organic instruments.

Maita’s steamy sentiments translate well, as the sung-in-English “Around You” demonstrates, and she’s got some stories of substance to tell, like “Na Asa,” a musical tale of dreams realized. Fio da Memoria is a keeper for sure, but Maita’s vocal mix of subtle and searing would benefit even more from backing that likewise balances real and electronic sounds equally.

 

Various Artists - The Rough Guide to Ethiopian Jazz
Various Artists – The Rough Guide to Ethiopian Jazz

 

If you need a reminder of how well traditional Ethiopian music meshes with jazz, The Rough Guide to Ethiopian Jazz (World Music Network, 2016) will handily serve. Trailblazer Mulatu Astatke kicks off with the horn-heavy proclaiming of “Gamo” and things jump ever further back into the Swinging Addis feel of the 60s and 70s from there.

While at only 9 tracks the collection can’t cover the whole spectrum, what you get is choice. Serpentine instrumentals are the bulk of it, including NYC’s Budos Band providing impressive overseas translation of the sound, but the soulful vocal thrills of Tlahoun Gessesse and Gabriella Ghermandi show just how large a role male and female voices also played (and play) on the scene. A superb sampler.

headline photo: Richard Bona

Share

Interview with Zydeco Accordion Virtuoso Jeffery Broussard

Jeffery Broussard
Jeffery Broussard

Louisiana accordionist Jeffery Broussard is considered one of the most influential accordionists in modern Zydeco music. He has innovated Zydeco, developing the new Zydeco sound in Zydeco Force. Jeffery currently plays more traditional Zydeco with his own band, Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys. Zydeco music was developed among Black Creoles in Southwest Louisiana in the 1940s. Zydeco mixed traditional Creole music, the Francophone fiddle and accordion traditions, blues and R&B.

Jeffery Broussard was born in Lafayette, Louisiana on March 10, 1967 to Ethel and Delton Broussard. He is the youngest of 11 children, having 5 brothers and 5 sisters. The family lived in Frilot Cove, Louisiana, a rural community northwest of Opelousas, in southern Louisiana, on a farm where his father was a sharecropper.

Jeffery grew up fishing in the bayous (marshlands), riding horses across the fields with his friends. His music career started very early in life. At the age of 8 he started playing drums in his father’s band, the acclaimed Delton Broussard & The Lawtell Playboys. After seventh grade, Jeffery left school to farm full time to help his parents. Jeffery spent long days digging and sorting potatoes.

Whenever he could, Jeffery would sneak in to the house and played his father’s accordion, teaching himself how to play.

During his teen years, Jeffery played drums in his oldest brother Clinton’s band, Clinton Broussard & The Zydeco Machines. It was in this band that Jeffery played the accordion in public for the first time. His brother would let him play a few songs from time to time. It wasn’t until Jeffery joined the band Zydeco Force that he began to sing.

Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys are set to perform at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina. Concerts dates include Friday, September 9 at 6:00 pm at Wrangler Stage; Saturday, September 10 at 2:45 pm at Dance Pavilion; Saturday, September 10 at 9:30 pm at Wrangler Stage; Sunday, September 11 at 12:00 pm at Dance Pavilion; and The Big Squeeze: Accordion Traditions on Sunday, September 11 at 3:15 pm at Lawn Stage.

World Music Central talks to Jeffery Broussard and band manager Millie Broussard about the upcoming concert.

Angel Romero – Can you tell us about the band you will be taking to the National Folk Festival 2016 in Greensboro?

Millie Brossard – I’ll first start off by saying Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys are excited about performing at the National Folk Festival in Greensboro, North Carolina.

Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys as you may know plays the traditional Creole Zydeco. He is commonly referred to as pound for pound the best accordion player around, although he is not limited to just the accordion. Jeffery plays every instrument. He is an awesome fiddler which he also uses in his performance… and there is a point in his performance where he does the old “switch-a-roo” with Djalma Garnier III who is the bass player, and in the midst of a song Djalma will take over fiddle and Jeffery will play bass, the crowd goes wild.

The rubboard player, which is the youngest member of the band but also the largest, we have given him the nickname “Big Truck,” is Jeffery’s youngest son, Jeffery Broussard Jr.

The guitarist Daniel Sanda is an awesome guitarist. “Daniel Boone.” as we refer to him. He has a way to make that guitar sing with his soulful notes.

The drummer, Paul Lavan Jr is not only talented on drums but accordion as well. He is the comedian of the group and never misses a beat.

Together these guys make up Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys. We are not just a band. We are family. We laugh. We cry. We love.

Jeffery Broussard - Photo by Robin Murray
Jeffery Broussard – Photo by Robin Murray

When and why did Jeffery start playing?

Millie Broussard – Jeffery first started playing professionally at the tender age of 8 in his father’s band as a drummer when the original drummer could not make it to gig. Jeffery’s father (Delton Broussard of The Lawtell Playboys) told Jeffery “get dressed boy, you are playing drums tonight.”

So as many Zydeco musicians today, the accordion was not Jeffery’s first instrument. It wasn’t until his teenage years that he picked up the passion for the accordion and has then mastered it.

When did the band come together?

Jeffery Broussard – The Creole Cowboys has been in existence for approximately 9 years and going strong. Thanks to God and my fans.

Tell us about Jeffery’ first recordings and musical evolution.

Millie Broussard – Jeffery’s first recording was in the 1980s when he was accordionist/vocalist for the ever so popular band Zydeco Force. Still today many of the younger Zydeco musicians try to mimic Jeffery with old tunes from Zydeco Force. However, as the sayings goes, “often imitated but never duplicated” (laughs out loud).

How’s the current Creole music scene in Louisiana?

Jeffery Broussard – The Creole music scene in Louisiana is still going. However, with the new generation of music and younger musicians adding their own zest to the music, I’m afraid it will lose its authenticity as the younger artist are adding more hip-hop and less accordion, so my goal is to keep the tradition and culture going, not by preserving the music but by performing and promoting it!

Which are your favorite musical festivals, and what makes them so special?

Jeffery Broussard – I really can’t say I have a favorite festival or place of performance as each festival or place has its own uniqueness…and I love spreading my love for the music and culture everywhere. I can say this, no matter where we perform no matter the size of the crowd, we give it our best. It doesn’t matter if it’s 10 or 10,000 in audience, the performance will still be the same.

What are some unusual reactions you have got during your live performances?

Jeffery Broussard – I can’t recall any unusual activities at any of my performances because I myself and band members are of high energy and we cut up and act silly interacting with audience, so anything unusual I wouldn’t notice. It’s all about fun. Zydeco is a happy music.

If you could gather any musicians or musical groups to collaborate with who would that be?

Jeffery Broussard – If I could collaborate a group of musicians my choices would be as follows: Buckwheat Zydeco; Nathan Williams and The Zydeco Cha-Chas; CJ Chenier; Terrance Semien; Steve Riley and The Mamou Playboys; Geno Delafonse and The French Rocking Boogie Band; and I have to add as he is not a Zydeco musician but he is an awesome awesome accordionist, Joaquin Diaz. He lives in Montreal by way of Dominican Republic.

What music are you currently listening to?

Jeffery Broussard – As I love Zydeco, playing and listening to Zydeco. I listen to Gospel a lot more, because it is God that blessed me with this talent.

Do you have any upcoming projects to share with our readers?

Jeffery Broussard – Not only will I have new Zydeco CD but a Gospel CD as well, and, yes, I will be playing all the instrumental parts myself so be on the lookout for more of Jeffery Broussard and The Creole Cowboys.

Discography:

Keeping The Tradition Alive! (Maison de Soul, 2009)

Return of the Creole (Maison de Soul, 2011)

Live at Jazzfest 2013 (Munck Mix, 2013)

Live at Jazzfest 2014 (Munck Music, 2014)

Share