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MATAWA - La Jonction

MATAWA - La Jonction
Private Label 1MAT1

Sébastien Lagrange is a button box player from the Morvan area in central France, a secluded part of Burgundy with a strong musical tradition. Whilst some of the tracks here clearly spring from his French roots, others are completely different. Either Lagrange is well aware of the French colonial traditions of the USA and Canada, or he has single-handedly reinvented Cajun, Acadian and Québécois music. Titles such as Retour Du Québec and Cajun Jonction give the game away, but are not the only pieces here which show a North American influence: La Montée Au Beuvray smacks of Montreal and Valse Pour Caroline strays close to Kentucky or Tennessee country. Mr Kostas Mougolias has elements of Quebec as well as North African music, while the fiddle reel Morvan Jonction has a more American old-time feel to it.

All these pieces were written by Lagrange, but you'd struggle to play any of them on his father's hurdy-gurdy. Valse Des Sapins, on the other hand, is exactly what you might expect from a respectable vielleux de Bourgogne and the same goes for Valse Pour Jo. And then there's the Irish influence, two great jigs by Niall Vallely and a couple of Lagrange reels which could have come straight off the boat from Cork. With one or two more Cajun waltzes and a Parisian café number, there are nine fine tracks of button box playing here, plus fiddle, piano and drums from the other three members of Matawa. The remaining track featuring uilleann pipes is a novelty, but that's all: it sounds like a Frenchman playing an unfamiliar instrument, with none of the Irish technique. The sleeve notes are very sparse and there's no website I can find, so I can't tell you much more, except that this album is well worth a listen.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 102 of The Living Tradition magazine.