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[Off The Record]
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Despite the overreach in the title — musette is a sound of Paris, yes, but hardly the sound of a city that boasts Jacques Brel, MC Solaar, Daft Punk, Mylene Farmer, and Edith Piaf among its innumerably various stylists — the 15 tracks gathered here do represent yet another addition to the exploration of 19th-century pre-jazz musics that began about 15 years ago with a revival of interest in authentic tango. Musette, as the CD’s liner notes tell us, came not from Argentina but from the Auvergne, a still mostly rural region in the geographic center of France that in the 1850s retained its Occitan language and civilization. As Occitan is much closer to Catalan than to French, it’s not surprising that musette, as modernized and restored here, owes a lot to the Gypsy music of Andalusia, to Arabic and Neapolitan melodies and rhythms, and to the instruments (accordion, bass, and guitar) on which these musics are made. If you’ve missed the complex melancholy of Astor Piazzolla lately, or you like the muscular flamenco pop of the Gipsy Kings but tune the Kings’ Eurofusion out, then the work of accordionist Armand Lassagne, guitarist Didier Duprat, and their friends (including vocalist A. Minvielle) deserves your attention. Francophiles should also note that, unlike the Kings — or most tango stars — Minvielle sings in French. In Paris one would expect that.


Issue Date: May 24 - 30, 2001

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