Gabriel Yacoub was one of the spearheads of the folk revival that swept through France. The founder and leader of influential French trad rock band Malicorne during the 1970s and early '80s, Yacoub has continued to explore the full spectrum of French music as a soloist. According to Vanity Fair, Yacoub's "voice is liquid and ready, his guitar work brilliant: rich contrapuntal lines and classical technique which, sounded on steel strings, gives his instrument the fullness of a harpsichord." Initially inspired by the songs of American singer/songwriters, especially Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, Yacoub was introduced to traditional French music as backup guitarist and singer for innovative Breton harp player Alan Stivell. Taking the lessons that he learned from Stivell, he formed Malicorne in 1973 in an attempt to bring traditional music up to contemporary standards. One of the earliest world music groups, Malicorne combined Western instruments, such as guitar and electric bass, with traditional instruments, including krumhorns, bagpipes, and hurdy-gurdies. Together for a decade, Yacoub and Malicorne recorded three albums that achieved gold record status and received a prestigious gold prix de L'Academie du Disque Francais. After recording a solo album, Trad. Arr., featuring acoustic renditions of traditional French tunes in 1978, Yacoub began writing original songs. Breaking away from Malicorne, he embarked on his own musical journey. Although he veered towards electric folk-rock with his 1986 album, Elementary Level of Faith, recorded with Hungarian composer Ivan Lantos and New York-born singer/keyboardist Nikki Matheson, he returned to his acoustic roots with the solo album Bel in 1990. Yacoub has continued to set his guitar playing and singing to a variety of formats. In 1994 he recorded Quatre with accompaniment from a 40-piece orchestra and a vocal choir. Since 1998, Yacoub has worked with fiddler Nathalie Riviere and bassist Yannick Hardouin.
Share this page