The Basques are a unique group of people whose origins are somewhat surrounded in mystery. They are believed to be prehistoric inhabitants of Europe and possibly the direct descendents of Cro-Magnon man; they’re language is entirely different from any other European language and it is apparently the only Western European language that does not belong to the Indo-European family.
But they have another unique thing … the TXALAPARTA.
It consists of some wood planks placed on two stands covered with an insulating material. Wood freely vibrates when two people (txalpartaris) vertically hit them, each one with two wooden sticks.
The origin of the Txalaparta is surrounded by myths. Some people place it in the prehistoric cavern , imitating their galloping sound. Or used as a way of communication among Basque tribes.
It almost disappeared. In the 1960s few played it openly. The Zuaznabar brothers of Lasarte, then known as the last txalaparta players (as the Goikoetxea brothers), had to keep their instrument hidden away for fear of arrest by the Spanish Civil Guard; it was considered an overt sign of Basque identity, forbidden during the dictatorship.
Since then the txalaparta has undergone a renaissance, in part through the efforts of Oreka TX.
O R E K A T X
Harkaitz Mtnez. de San Vicente (San Sebastian - Donostia, 1975) and Igor Otxoa (San Sebastian - Donostia, 1973) have played the txalaparta as a pair since 1997, the year in which Oreka Tx was born. That same year, they also joined a band led by the noted basque composer, musician, and master of the trikitixa (diatonic accordion) Kepa Junkera, a collaboration that garnered them a Latin Grammy®. They have shared the stage and/or recorded with a host of international stars, such as, Altan, Taraf de Haidouks, Pat Metheny, Alasdair Fraisier, Hendingarna, Dulce Pontes, Phil Cunningham, Oskorri, Hevia , María del Mar Bonet, Carlos Núñez, …
Oreka Tx's first album, Quercus Endorphina, was produced by Kepa Junkera and released by Elkarlanean in 2001. Tracks from this album were featured in the show “Txalaparta” by the famous Spanish dancer and choreographer Nacho Duato, represented by the National Company of Dancing at the most important auditoriums and theatres all over the world.
In that year they formed their band (Oreka TX Band) and started to give concerts with it. They have also used festivals around Europe, America, Africa and Japan as a launchpad to gain awareness for the Txalaparta.before embarking on 2004 in the project Nömadak Tx:
Oreka Tx had a dream: they thought up a project that was to mark a turning point in the history of this unique musical percussion instrument. A project based on their understanding that the Txalaparta is a point of encounter, a means of communicating with others. Since 2004 they have travelled the world, using the Txalaparta as their vehicle and home, meeting musicians and discovering the reality of far away peoples, from Mongolia to Sahara, from Lapland to India. During their travels, they compiled visual and sound material, with a clear goal in mind: to share this music, these sounds, these images, and these experiences. Their dream has become a reality and the result was an astounding documentary called Nömadak Tx which won multiple awards at international film festivals and is coming soon to theaters worldwide (the film was screened at WOMEX Film Programme 2007 at the section World Music Films on Tour), a CD distributed worldwide by Harmonia Mundi, a DVD and the new show they propose to WOMEX: “Nömadak TX Live”:
Oreka TX, accompanied by musicians gathered together for the occasion, invites us to go on an unusual concert - journey, in a combination of music and on-stage images.
Played live, the richness of the sound and the variety of instruments provides the Txalaparta with an unusual yet welcoming environment, an environment in which the Txalaparta can evolve towards new horizons.
The musicians play music created during their travels to India, Lapland, the Sahara and Mongolia, alongside other musicians who appear on a large screen. This screen, set at the back of the stage, becomes a huge window, to view and discover different places and different peoples.
Experimentation and fusion are the tool of this new concept for multimedia concerts whilst cultural interaction is its goal.
Aziza is a Saharawi from Western Sahara, born in a refugee camp in Algeria. At the age of 11 Aziza received a schoolarship to study in Cuba where she spent seven years, before abandoning her studies in order to dedicate herself to music. She won the first prize in a national song competition in a cultural festival of the Saharawi Arab Democratic Republic - the self-proclaimed Saharawi state. Aziza did her first recordings for the Saharawi National Radio in the refugee camps and from there came her first tour outside the camps in Mauritania and Algeria as part of the National Saharawi Music Group. In 1998 the spanish record company Nubenegra publish the trilogy "Saharauis", including two songs from her. After that she made several tours with the National Saharawi Music Group "Leyuad" in Europe from 1998 to 2004. In 2005 she made her first experience mixing the traditional music from Western Sahara with another musics, with the Latin Jazz music group Yayabo. Now she's working with her new group, Gulili Mankoo (a mix of Western Sahara music, rythms from Senegal and Blues & Rock music) in her new forthcoming record, released in January 2009, called “Mi Canto”.
The soloist khoomii singer, HOSOO (Dangaa Khosbayar), was born in 1971 into a family of khoomii singers from the province of Chandman Sum in Khovd, in the Altai mountain region of Western Mongolia. This is the only region in Mongolia where khoomii is sung and where the khoomii technique is passed on to each generation. There is no official school for khoomii. Hosoo has been practising throat singing since he was seven years old. After finishing school in Khovd he started his career as a singer in Ulaanbaatar (the capital of Mongolia). He worked in a Mongolian song and dance ensemble until 1993. The reward for his musical efforts came in 1995 when he won a singing contest in Ulaanbaatar and was awarded the title of “Best Mongolian Singer”.
Since 1993, he has toured China, Russia and the whole of Europe as a member of the Manduchai, Egschiglen and Uyanga ensembles. During this time he produced the CDs “Gobi” with Egschiglen and “Uyanga-1” with Uyanga. His debut solo album “ALTAI” was released in October 2000 under his name, Dangaa. On this CD, Hosoo combines traditional Mongolian throat singing with modern arrangements. The CD was awarded five stars by the magazine InMusic. Hosoo can also be heard as a guest musician on the “Istanbul-Casablanca - Tour ‘89” by the jazz formation “embryo”, on “autoloop” by Giorgio Li Calzi and on the “Masters Of Chant Chapter II” of the “Gregorian” series.
Txalaparta player. Since 2008 the third member of OREKA TX. Before this he played or recorded with La Fura dels Baus, Briganthya, Michael Galasso, Orchest Bordeaux, Kepa Junkera, …
Percussionist. Formed with teachers as Bosco de Oliveira, Agustino Gómez, Mike bennett, Mamadi Kamo y Jatin Omar, he has played with lots of bands (Papa Bois, Uninvited, Kepa Junkera, Deabru Beltzak, Oskorri, …).
Bouzouki. He has been part and collaborated in bands as Marta Sebestyen, Alboka, Xabi San Sebastian, …
Double bass. He has been member of the “Young Basque Orchestra”
Alboka (hornpipe), saxophone, soprano, clarinet. One of the referencial names in the basque music. He has created and formed bands as Errobi, Les Jaguars, Zaldibobo, “Avant Garde” and actually in Bidaia with Caroline Phillips.
MIKEL F. KRUTZAGA
Sound engineer. He has recorded the two CDs of Oreka Tx and is the soud engineer on Oreka TX Band gigs since 2000. Winner of a Latin Grammy®in 2004 for being the sound engineer of Kepa Junkera´s live CD “K”. He has worked with many international musicians as Flaco Jiménez, Gwendal , John Renbourn , Liam O´flynn, Marta Sebestyan, Suso Saiz, …
Lightning engineer. He has worked with the most famous basque world music and theatre companies and has been the lightning designer and engineer of Oreka TX Band since 2000.
Oreka TX (Harkaitz Martinez de san Vicente, Igor Otxoa & Mikel Ugarte); wood txalaparta, stone txalaparta, barrel drum and tubes.
Iñigo Egia; percussion (Indian tabla, cajón, bendhir, bodrham, and wok)
Juanjo Otxandorena; bouzouki.
Amaiur Cajareville; double bass.
Mixel Ducau; alboka (hornpipe), saxophone, soprano, clarinet.
Hosoo: Voices (“khoomi”).
Aziza Brahim: Voices.
“QUERCUS ENDORPHINA” (Elkarlanean, 2001)
Produced by Kepa Junkera.
Oreka Tx (Harkaitz Mtez. De San Vicente & Igor Otxoa)
Glen Velez (USA).
Michel Bordeleau (La Bottine Souriante, Quebec).
Mikel Laboa (Basque Country)
Phil Cunningham (Scotland)
Justin Vali (Madagascar)
Kepa Junkera (Basque Country)
“NÖMADAK TX” (World Village, 2009).
Distributed by Harmonia Mundi.
Produced by Harkaitz Mtez. De San Vicente.
Oreka Tx (Harkaitz Mtez. De San Vicente & Igor Otxoa), Angel Unzu, Iñigo Egia, Ion Garmendia, Xabi Zeberio, Javi Alzola, Julio Andrade, Pello Ramirez, Iñigo Agirre, Mikel Laboa.
Palani Velu, Jayan Nair, Manikandan Nair, Kutal Khan, Bu, Gobbi.
Terje Isungset “Ice Man”, Yana Mangi, Ante Mikkel.
Amazigh People (Berebers):
Groupe Zaid, Abdelhak Akandouch, Ouafaa Aouattah, Foud Elttabi, Asma Aouattah.
Saharawi People: Tiris Band.
Chimbad, A. Udarma, Ganbold Muukhai, Ganzorig Nergui, J. Munkhbat, Ailanys Band (Khakasia), Alexander Samozhikov, Oleg Chebodaev, Yelea Chezhinova, Alla Burnakova.
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“The music does the talking in "Nomadak Tx," an exhilarating, feverishly globe-hopping doc that foll...“The music does the talking in "Nomadak Tx," an exhilarating, feverishly globe-hopping doc that follows Basque musical duo Oreka Tx as they seek out fellow artists in far-flung nomadic societies. Very possibly the Next Big Thing for world music mavens and hipster armchair travelers alike, pic confidently relies on images and rhythms to demonstrate how small the world can be.”
--Robert Koehler, Variety Magazine (USA)
Review of the previous show OREKA TX Band
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About the previous show Oreka TX band had:“Featuring not one but three txalapartas - slabs of wood o...About the previous show Oreka TX band had:“Featuring not one but three txalapartas - slabs of wood or stone laid over trestles, struck vertically with cylindrical sticks - the group’s riveting sound is firmly centred around their intricate, hypnotic, cascading patterns of rhythm and melody, embellished with accordion, keyboards, vocals, alboka (cow’s-horn reeded pipe) and hand-percussion.
The result was a thrilling physical spectacle as well as an aural treat, which richly deserved its standing ovation.”
-- Sue Wilson, The Scotsman (Scotland) 2003
Nömadak TX CD 1
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About the CD Nömadak TX: “Many of the instruments like the sitar, the throat singing or even the cas...About the CD Nömadak TX: “Many of the instruments like the sitar, the throat singing or even the castanets are so culturally distinctive that it’s impossible to imagine how anything, particularly an ancient Basque instrument could find a way in. Yet this is never a problem, nothing feels forced, this is highly composed otherworldly world music, a true meeting of cultures, with each offering a gift, yet none emerging on top”
-- Bob Baker Fish, Cyclic Defrost Magazine (Australia)
Nömadak TX CD 3
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“Regarding example of how polycultural blends can escape the trap of cultural flavourlessness when a...“Regarding example of how polycultural blends can escape the trap of cultural flavourlessness when approached with care and invention”
-- Lynden Barber, Limelight Magazine (Australia)
About the film Nömadak TX
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“This exhilarating travelogue restores a rightful sense of vitality and wonder to the communicative... “This exhilarating travelogue restores a rightful sense of vitality and wonder to the communicative power of rhythm. Embracing the specific as much as the global, the film finds a sturdy metaphor for its communitarian spirit in the txalaparta, a Basque drum-cum-xylophone of mounted planks that takes two to play and is ideally made from whatever materials are at hand.”
--Andy Markowitz, Prague Daily Monitor (Czech Republic)
Nömadak TX project & film
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“Harkaitz and Igor began their txalaparta duo in the late 1990s, and rose to some prominence with th...“Harkaitz and Igor began their txalaparta duo in the late 1990s, and rose to some prominence with the popularity of their collaborations with Kepa Junkera, the diatonic accordion whiz from Bilbao. On Nömadak Tx (they) visit with nomad musicians in a variety of countries.... The result is an unforgettable visual and musical experience, somewhere between Baraka, Latcho Drom and Buena Vista Social Club.”
-- David Cox, Rootsworld.com
Nömadak TX CD 4
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“Igor y Harkaitz llevan muchos años sacándole provecho al milenario arcano de la txalaparta, la perc...“Igor y Harkaitz llevan muchos años sacándole provecho al milenario arcano de la txalaparta, la percusión con tablas de roble, pero esta excursión por medio mundo constituye un salto cualitativo colosal.(…) Como Peter Gabriel se entere, los ficha.”
--Fernando Neira, El País (Spain)
Nömadak TX CD 2
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The world music project, Nomadak Tx captures the energy of life trekking in its richest musical form...The world music project, Nomadak Tx captures the energy of life trekking in its richest musical form. Understanding the concept of this album and fully appreciating its beautiful organic harmonies is easy. Oreka Tx traveled to Mongolia, the Sahara, India, and the Arctic Circle. Their experience with other musicians helps to give a luxuriant rhythmic feel using a traditional instrument, the txalparta, as a centerpiece. Originating from Basque Spain, it consists of wooden slats or planks. When struck, air moves through the planks to give a unique percussive vibrating sound. Like the poetic union of various folk artists for this collaboration, the txalparta requires more than a single experience; it is played by two people. Richly structured and multi-layered in artistry and musicianship, this album has a natural ability to reflect travels so amazing that each listening experience despite the different genres between each track yields a deeper appreciation, a higher plane, and a more grand societal response to music and journeys that sounds like souls touching. Slide guitars, mandolin, banjo, clarinet, lute, strings and a whole host of many other different instruments swim against the vibrato of the txalparta along with double bass and drums. The journey in each song is captured at length in every second. Nomadak Tx seems to capture life experiences not only in palpable hopes but through a spiritually touching encounter.
There are no upcoming dates at this time.