Sunday, March 24, 2013

Beausoleil avec Michael Doucet. From Bamako to Carenco. Compass Records CD CPS4591 (2013).

It’s easy to take venerable roots bands like Beausoleil for granted because they make whatever they choose to play swing effortlessly – but do so at your peril. Beneath the surface of this quintet joyous, dance-friendly groove are some serious musicians willing to take significant artistic risks, as exemplified by their latest release, From Bamako to Carencro.  I can’t imagine any other Cajun band attempting to do a French interpolation of James Brown’s torrid “I Go Crazy” but Beausoleil’s playful adaptation makes it sound like it was written that way.  In recognition of the ancestral links between the blues of West Africa and the Mississippi delta, Beausoleil chose to cover “Bamako,” jazz composer Roswell Rudd’s soulful tribute to the eerie desert music of Mali. Elsewhere, they channel John Coltrane at his most accessible with a funky, uptempo romp through his “Bessie’s Blues.”  Le Jig Creole, penned by bassist Mitchell Reed and Michael Doucet, makes a slow, bluesy riff both hypnotic and danceable. In appreciation to their own roots, Beausoleil closes out this wonderful disc with a tribute to legendary Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee, covering his “Guilbeau Pelican & Napoleon’s Reel.”

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