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Gitane Cajun

Review By Steven Stone
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CD Number: Vanguard Records 


  The name Beausoleil is virtually synonymous with Cajun music. During their 25 plus years the band has showcased this particular form of uniquely regional music to the world. On their latest studio album, Gitane Cajun, Beausoleil celebrate and revel in the wide range of Cajun musical forms from waltzes to ballads, two-steps and rave-ups. For those who are unfamiliar with Cajun music, Michael Doucet, the principal songwriter for Beausoleil, says "The French music that is played today in Southwest Louisiana is a great example of the "gypsy" culture that had been uprooted from Nova Scotia in 1755, and found its home in the bayous of Louisiana."

Recorded in just four days at the Dockside Studios, located deep in Milton, Louisiana, Gitane Cajun features nine new original compositions coupled with older classics by Canray Fontentot, Sidney Brown, Boozoo Chavis, and Lawrence Walker. Band members Michael Doucet on fiddle, David Doucet on guitar, Jimmy Breaux on accordion, Tommy Alesi on drums, Billy Ware on percussion, and Al Tharp on bass, banjo, and second fiddle have been playing together for so long that every song, whether original or cover, has a precisely orchestrated but relaxed Cajun feeling. Jimmy Breaux's accordion work drives the band's rhythm forward just like Bill Monroe's mandolin pushed his band's pace. Cajun music can sound infectiously happy, such as "Peut Pas Me Refuser" or melancholy such as on "Gitane Cajun 1", but regardless of its emotional mood, its special beat and pulse always shines through. Sonics match the music with a sunny harmonic balance and organic feel. Sure, everything could be clearer, but integration of the individual parts into a whole is part of what makes Cajun music unique, so the recording should reflect this. Still, there's nothing here that's sonically pernicious or hinder your enjoyment of the music.

Feeling blue? Want to kick up your heels or shake your posterior? Gitane Cajun will supply just the inspiration you need to engage your bacchanalian impulses.  Good times roll off this CD like water off a duck's back. Recommended.



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