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SEB LAGRANGE & FRIENDS - Morvan Massif Live

SEB LAGRANGE & FRIENDS - Morvan Massif Live
Private Label 1SL/1

A French button box maestro who plays in a pan-Celtic style, Seb Lagrange hails from the Morvan region of Central France, on the edge of the Auvergne which is justly celebrated for its traditional music. This album mixes Morvan dances with modern Scots and Irish tunes, Canadian fiddle reels and many of Lagrange's own eclectic compositions to produce an album which is hard to categorise but easy to enjoy. The opening pair of Americana breakdowns is a favourite of Seb's group, Matawa, who take a more Francophone approach to their music, less Celtic and more Québécois. Fiddler Didier Gris joins Seb, and the pair is backed by Scotsman Ross Martin on guitar and Irishman Caoimhín Vallely on keyboards. The gentle waltz Mon Père Vit Dans Les Etoiles is followed by Drink Up In Glasgow, a reel in the style of contemporary Scots pipe tunes: both are catchy melodies, worth adding to the session repertoire.

Three Auvergnat waltzes set a French tone briefly, before some thumping reels: three in a broadly Quebec style, and two Scottish piping monsters rattled off by Gael Rutkowski on French bagpipes. And so it goes on, for well over an hour: a surprisingly charming American waltz called Rock All Our Babies To Sleep, a pair of Niall Vallely jigs also taken from the repertoire of Matawa, and a Balkan-tinged pipe tune written for Mr Kostas Mougolias who may have starred in the film Shirley Valentine. The addition of Morvan piper Gilles Desserprit and hurdy-gurdy man Franck Huguenin completes the concert line-up for this live recording from the Fête de l'Accordéon in Luzy, and introduces a more local sound for a few tracks: bourrées, mazurkas and waltzes written by Lagrange in the Morvan style. After a pair of schottisches which have the Celtic Cajun feel of some Blair Douglas tunes, the final track is pure traditional French, and is actually one of my favourites: a polka also played by Anglo-French band Topette, and another equally fun polka to finish. Top quality music and no shortage of new material, there's plenty to please any button box enthusiast here. 

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 123 of The Living Tradition magazine.