Traditional and jazz accordion mingle in Madagascan blend
Beguiled by Régis Gizavo's melody

Photo Fred Tanneau.

Régis Gizavo is perhaps the most difficult among the array of accordionists appearing at the festival to place. He comes from Madagascar, itself decidedly multi-cultural, and has carved his own individual blend of traditional and jazz against this background. Tuesday evening's performance was enchanting.

Muvrini's audience on Monday night had undoubtedly noticed this extraordinary accordion player garnishing the Corsican numbers with competent Blues style jazz and groove. Régis Gizavo, son of a teacher at Tuléar, Madagascar, arrived in France in 1990. Since then he has built a reputation as a dependable accompanist, and played with Manu Dibango, Geoffrey Oryema, Graeme Allwright, Higelin, the Têtes Brûlées, and other well-known groups before becoming I Muvrini's appointed accordion player. He adds something distinctive and modern to the Corsican band, and it pervades their songs to advantage.

But Régis Gizavo is not content to just accompany other people, even though in doing so his originality remains intact. He is someone who creates music, and has a lot to say, and particularly about his island, its people and legends. "For me, the voice is the supreme instrument" he explained to the audience on Tuesday night "and the accordion is just there to accompany." And indeed the audience will see for themselves that this gifted musician is also a highly skilled singer, with a very personal blues and jazz style. Régis Gizavou's music has many different strands of colour - like Madagascar, the crossroads of Africa, Europe and Asia.

A duo plays trad

Gizavo's performance was preceded by an appearance from the Bertrand brothers who hail from the Breton marshlands, where Brittany joins with the Vendée. One of them discovered the "veuse", a sort of bagpipe, at a very young age, and has busied himself ever since with bringing it back to life from total abandonment. The other plays diatonic accordion. The two musicians accompanied by Thierry Moreau (who plays in Cabestan) on cello, played tunes from all over the Vendée.

Over and above their obvious musical ability, this duo embodies all that is great and good about today's traditional musicians: they are collectors, historians, musical sociologists, pedagogues (both are teachers) and even makers of instruments. An entire culture is developing through their efforts; close to the ordinary person, steeped in memory, both knowing and convivial. A model for the many enthousiasts who were there this night...


Copyright Technopole Quimper Cornouaille France-Ouest 1999