Kepa Junkera (credit: Attambur.com)
Kepa Junkera is, simply put, one of the the best, if not THE best reed players in the world. He hails from Basque country and is the master of the diatonic accordion known as a trikitixa or “bellows from Hell.” Kepa has such a deft, athletic and riotous touch on the keyboard that he turns an otherwise devilish instrument into a heavenly one.
When he was a very young boy he first took to the trikitixa and mastered it while most other children are stumbling through learning proper fingerings. Still at a young age, he approached the Basque folk band, Oskorri, which took him under its wing. He has performed on all of their records and many of their tours.
Another stellar quality of Kepa’s is the desire to transcend national boundaries and musical genres. In 1992, he formed Trans-Europe Diatonic, an accordion trio project with John Kirkpatrick and Riccardo Tesi. Their goal was to create a musical forum that would encourage interplay between players from different parts of Europe. They hoped in this collaboration to inspire a musical climate ripe for blending their often contrasting styles.
In Bilbao 00:00Hr (1999), Kepa created a true masterpiece of the accordion genre. While firmly rooted in the Basque musical tradition, he also embraces other folk music traditions represented by Bela Fleck, Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains, Fain Dueñas of Radio Tarifa, and Carlos Beciero of La Musgana, who also perform on the album. Each song radiates a different and powerful emotional timbre. Some songs are profoundly romantic with lush melodies. Others are althletic exercises in the flight of fingers across a keyboard. None of these songs is less than stellar. I’ve chosen the wonderful, Gaztelugatxeko Martxa to represent this collection, though I could’ve featured any one and not gone wrong. This song is an irrepressible romp through all the capabilities of his instrument. It is filled with joy and life and propelled along by the boisterous accompaniment of Liam O’Flynn’s uillean pipes. It simply takes your breath away and makes your feet want to leave the ground.
Vist the English-language Kepa Junkera official site.
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