Gaston Guillemain

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b. 1877, France, d. 1966. French hurdy gurdy player Gaston Guillemain had the distinction of influencing not only his compatriots but also celebrated folk musicians from the British and Irish traditions.…
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b. 1877, France, d. 1966. French hurdy gurdy player Gaston Guillemain had the distinction of influencing not only his compatriots but also celebrated folk musicians from the British and Irish traditions. Often collaborating with his cabrette-playing brother Lucien (1868-1965) and other pipe and vielle players, his earliest recordings were made on 78s in 1926. These and other recordings (notably private tapes dating from the 50s and 60s) were compiled in 1994 as Berry - Bourbonnais by Silex Records. Among the motivators of the reissue programme (which also saw a companion volume of vintage recordings by Lucien entitled Cabrette) was Willy Soulette of Trio Cornemuse - a tribute to Guillemain’s enduring influence. Tackling maurkas, bourées, marches, quadrilles, polkas and dance rhythms, Berry - Bourbonnais confirmed Guillemain and his brother to be consummate interpreters, borrowing from many traditions without ever being constricted by them. That free spirited approach, fostered by the brothers’ willingness to improvise and experiment with rhythm and harmony, can be readily detected in the subsequent recordings of better known British artists including Johnny Doran and Davy Stewart.