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Musette Explosion | Introducing Musette Explosion (feat. Matt Munisteri, Marcus Rojas, Will Holshouser)

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Jazz: Chamber Jazz World: Western European Moods: Instrumental
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Introducing Musette Explosion (feat. Matt Munisteri, Marcus Rojas, Will Holshouser)

by Musette Explosion

Three New York improvisers explore and expand on French musette, bringing fiery rhythm, evocative original tunes, and sonic surprises to the table.
Genre: Jazz: Chamber Jazz
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
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1. A Recurring Dream
4:33 $0.99
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2. Swing 39
5:49 $0.99
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3. La Sorcière
7:40 $0.99
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4. Chanson Pop
6:31 $0.99
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5. Swing Valse
5:25 $0.99
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6. L'incomprise
5:28 $0.99
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7. Automne
4:54 $0.99
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8. Grey Eyes Is Glass
7:37 $0.99
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9. La Folle
2:35 $0.99
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10. Douce Joie
4:44 $0.99
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.

ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
MUSETTE EXPLOSION
"... swings with speed and clarity, sways with mystery and eroticism....Not simply an archeological paean to past masters, this debut recording from Musette Explosion makes the genre relevant to NYC’s musical landscape."
-- Elliott Simon, New York City Jazz Record

I can’t remember which member of Musette Explosion mentioned their show at the Jewish Museum to me. But when that member described a band comprised of three of New York’s most creative musicians, each with a distinctive voice on his instrument, playing a form of music that in some crazy way made total logical sense for them as an ensemble, I knew I had to hear what they were up to.

That night I heard what felt like a perfect evening of music making. Musette is a musical style that somehow combines a French joie de vivre with the wistfulness of Brazilian saudade, typically in an instantly identifiable early jazz (usually waltz) form. Will, Matt and Marcus connected so clearly with the spirit of this music and delivered a performance of such emotional honesty that they left the audience that night rapt in a palpable sea of good feeling. And for those who were looking for the more intellectual side of music making, they had used this style as a springboard for the highest level of improvisatory communication. Three musicians improvising inside a highly structured form, constantly coming up with ways of rephrasing melodic ideas, making new sounds on their instruments and interacting in surprising ways. I was hooked and told them after the performance that we had to record this work.

They’re tough guys to pin down. They so often generously lend their musical expertise to other people’s projects that as a result they have little time left to pursue their own “side projects.” So it took a while. Three years later after four days of recording and lots of days creatively playing with studio technology (these guys can’t help it!), here’s what you have. Hopefully what the audience heard live that night is still being communicated via all those digital bits and bytes. Joie de musique with Musette Explosion. -- Scott Lehrer, producer/engineer

* * *
Matt Munisteri and I got hooked on French musette back in the 1990s. We loved the dark beauty and thrilling virtuosity of the old records by Gus Viseur, Jo Privat, the Ferret brothers, Tony Murena and the other great accordion and guitar masters. Their music was passionate and sweet, but played with a fierce edge – like jazz. The exquisite "swing waltzes" were French dance hall tunes written under the spell of American jazz, which was all the rage in France from the 1920s to the 1950s. So while the music was new to our ears, there was much in it that was familiar.
As we began playing some musettes, we found ourselves emphasizing the American (or African-American) side of the music's family history: rhythm, swing, and improvisation. Rather than reenacting the old records, we followed the music as it led us somewhere: the simple harmonies and perfectly structured forms of musette were fun to improvise on, and that became a path to finding our own interpretations. Our intent was not to reconstruct or deconstruct the repertoire, but to play it in our own way, with our own voices, while keeping the melodies, rhythms, and proportions that give the music its beautiful flow more or less intact.
We took a major step along this path when Marcus Rojas joined the band on tuba -- which is not part of the traditional musette ensemble. In his virtuosic hands, the tuba can play the role of bass, horn, bird call, or whale song, adding a whole range of possibilities. We brought in ideas from our work as side musicians in jazz, pop, and classical music but kept our arrangements simple so there would be plenty of freedom to improvise. Matt's absolutely unique early jazz rhythm guitar expertise and blistering, adventurous solos kept the engines humming. Accordion is traditionally the lead instrument in musette and it was a thrill for me to play this role, learning these challenging melodies and improvising on them, while trying to emulate the old accordionists who were as expressive as any lead singer. Musette became a gateway to an exciting way of playing as a trio. I wrote three new tunes to bring some more of our own sound to the mix, not swing waltzes per se, but pieces inspired by the luminous style and smoldering emotions of musette.
We owe a special word of thanks to Scott Lehrer for convincing us to finally get this band into the studio and for engineering and advising brilliantly. It wouldn't have happened without his artistry and expertise.
We hope you have as much fun listening to this music as much as we did recording it.
-- Will Holshouser

The tunes
"A Recurring Dream" is a "false musette" I wrote based on a repeating, shifting harmonic pattern rather than the song-like form (ABACA) of most musettes. "Swing 39" is by Stéphane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt; the latter got his start playing banjo in a musette dance band. On Jo Privat's classic waltz "La Sorcière" ("The Witch"), Matt wields a six-string banjo fitted with a "wah-wah" knee lever; no effects pedals, strictly 1920s technology (ok, a little reverb). "Chanson Pop," another original of mine, is a tribute to the grand emotiveness of the French (vocal) songs that fed the musette instrumentals. "Swing Valse," the definitive swing waltz, is by guitarist Baro Ferret and accordionist Gus Viseur. This album is a tribute of sorts to the brilliant Viseur, since three more of the tunes are his, including the melancholy "L'incomprise" ("The Misunderstood Woman"). His swing tune "Automne" reminds us of Thelonious Monk's "Well You Needn't" on the bridge. "Grey Eyes Is Glass" is a minor waltz I wrote with latter-day jazz chords, borrowing the title from Zora Neale Hurston, whose poetic idea seemed to fit the mood of the piece: anyone can see directly into a grey-eyed person's soul. "La Folle" ("The Crazy Woman"), the most angular musette we've run across, is by the aforementioned great guitarist and somewhat mysterious nightclub owner, Baro Ferret. "Douce Joie" ("Sweet Joy"), another Viseur gem, is one of the simplest but most beautiful melodies in the entire musette repertoire. -- WH

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