Bratsch

Nomades en Vol - Portrait

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Bratsch are, as they say, big in France (and several other places), and as good a way as any to start Network's Portrait series, essentially a retrospective look at careers. This covers 1988-2003, across a pair of CDs. The first disc, which goes up to 1994, focuses on the quintet proper and its free-ranging inspirations, which go from Greek rembetika to gypsy jazz and klezmer, even delving into the Italian "Maruzella" and touching on Arab music with "Bayat." The more recent part offers four new tracks recorded for this compilation but places the spotlight more firmly on the band's collaborations with other artists, such as "Johnny," where they teamed with Hungarians Andro Drom. It shows how they managed (remarkably) to spread their net even wider and take in yet more music. But more than that, how they've been able to assimilate the styles so perfectly that they fit seamlessly with people who make music in each style. That's not just because Bratsch are excellent chameleons, able to take on local coloring; it's because they're damn good, as every track here shows

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