Rao Trio – Sin Titulo (Producciones Efímeras, 2004)
Although the zanfona (Spanish hurdy gurdy) is best known as an instrument used in Spanish regional folk and Celtic music, Rao Trio take the zanfona to the world of progressive jazz and improvised music as well as tango and flamenco buleria.
Rao Trio is led by zanfona master Germán Diaz from Valladolid (Spain), who is known as one of the best hurdy gurdy players in Europe. The other two members are César Diaz on bass and fretless bass; and Diego Martín on drums and percussion. Accordionist Gorka Hermosa is the guest artist on the album.
Sin Titulo is an excellent album that shows the tremendous potential of the ancient zanfona in the hands of a talented and pioneering musician.
Accordion player Kepa Junkera and his regular companions Sorginak have released one of Kepa’s finest albums in years. Although Kepa Junkera is still known as a virtuoso’s accordionist, he’s also taken an interest in percussion and plays a wide range of percussion instruments. He’s joined by the all-female ensemble Sorginak, who sing and play frame drums.
Maletak (suitcase) makes reference to the old accordion cases Kepa kept in a loft that reminded him of his numerous travels. On this occasion, Kepa and his colleagues explore the folk music and rhythms of the various regions of Spain.
The regions covered include the Basque Country, Castile and Leon, Catalonia, Aragon, Cantabria, Galicia, Castile La Mancha, Asturias and Extremadura. Even though Kepa has composed all the music, he adds more authenticity to the project by bringing in an impressive list of guest musicians representing various folk music traditions.
Kepa follows the lead of Spanish folk music innovator Eliseo Parra, who appears as guest on the album. Parra has been exploring the folk music of the Iberian Peninsula and has reintroduced dozens of traditional musical instruments and rhythms.
As indicated earlier, the album features extensive use of percussion, especially frame drums along with the accordion, Spanish guitars, zanfona (hurdy gurdy), gaita (bagpipe), horns along with many guest vocalists and vocal ensembles.
The guest vocalists include Sorginak, Ion Elustondo, Beloki, Imanol Urkizu, Xabi Solano, Eliseo Parra, Gritsanda, Amadeu Rosell, Guillem Ballaz, Beatriz Bernard, Rocio Sapiña, Lourdes Escusol, Xabier Diaz, Adufeiras de Salitre, La Ronda de Motilleja, Hermanos Cubero, Pandereteras de Fitoria, Acetre, Amigos de Extremadura, and Olga y los Ministriles.
The extraordinary ensemble of musicians includes Kepa Junkera on accordions and percussion; Sorginak on percussion; Daniel Do Pando on trompa; Ibon Koteron on alboka; Oreka TX on chalaparta; Jose Luis Montón on guitar; Josete Ordoñez on guitar; Antonio Serrano on harmonica; Diego Galaz on fiddle and mandolin; Germán Diaz on zanfona (hurdy gurdy) and Pedro Lamas on saxophone and bagpipe.
Kepa Junkera’s album design always attracts attention. The beautifully packaged CD contains a large horizontal 24-page booklet with lyrics, photographs by Igotz Ziarreta and Santi Yaniz, and a set of 10 cards that are pieces of a jigsaw puzzle developed by Rober Garay and Alberto Palomera.
Maletak is a beautifully-crafted music project by a talented and diverse group of musicians that illustrates the rich diversity of Spanish folk music. Highly recommended.