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The best kept secret in music



Souffle renouvelé pour l'alboka. Tel est le sous-titre de ce disque entièrement consacré à cet instrument emblématique du pays basque qui, sans des musiciens comme Ibon Koteron, aurait bien pu disparaítre. Non content de vouloir faire vivre cet instrument, le musicien lui offre un écrin, une expérience d'échanges et de rencontres, une super-production assurée par Kepa Junkera lui-même et conviant quelques pointures aux côtés de Koteron. On y entend Chabenat et sa vielle, le duduk de Roston Kuchichian, le launeddas de Andrea Pisu, la flûte finlandaise de Heikki Syrjänen, d'excellents joueurs de txalaparta, des voix connues du Pays Basque et de rêgions voisines, de Ruper Ordorika à Faltriqueira en passant par Soledona. Le tout superbement produit, extrêmement musical, comme une démonstration de ce qu'on pourrait appeler la nouvelle musique traditionnelle.

Etiene Bours. - TRAD MAGAZINE


Basque music has moved far beyond its local frontiers in the last ten years or more, helped enormously by the appealing work of trikitixa accordion player Kepa Junkera. Here Junkera tuns his hand to the production of friend Ibon Koteron in an album that brings the alboka – one of the oldest instruments found anywhere in the world – into the modern age.

A double-reeded, twin-piped cow-horn originally played by shepherds in the Euskadi hills, the alboka was banned during the years of the Franco dictatorship and confined to rural willages (where it was traditionally partnered by a pandeiro tambourine-drum). In Koteron’s hands, it’s a versatile instrument, which he has incorporated into line-ups that include Galician singers Faltriqueira, Junkera’s accordion, duduks and Iñaki Plaza and Ruben Isasi’s unique txalaparta (loose wooden slats beaten rather like a xylophone), as well as other percussion, as brilliantly heard on “Albokeroen Martxea”.

This is uniquely Basque music, yet a host of influences are discernable on may tracks (such as “Tsanbouna”, which accentuates Mediterranean connections). The minimalistic “Bakuna da Biderra” is a little self-conscious for my taste, but the play of “Zinburna eta Fitak Dantzen” more than makes up for it.

Jan Fairley
- SONGLINES - January/February 2005


1996 "Leonen Orroak" with ELKAR
2004 "Airea" with ELKAR


Feeling a bit camera shy


Born in Bilbao in 1967, from the 1987-88 course he began learning and inmediately teaching the basque horn-pipes "alboka" (a kind of clarinet) and "gaita" or "dultzaina" (a sort of oboe).

His role in the survival of the almost extinct alboka is undoubted, and recognized by the last traditional players, having got a well established school of modern alboka players for whom the disk "Leonen Orroak", with the great accordionist Kepa Junkera has became the major reference. Together they organized the two festivals in honour of the last great traditional alboka players, Leon Bilbao (in Artea, 1996) and Txilibrin (in Bilbao, 1998).

Now, he is working in a multimedia alboka method, when is job as a philosophy teacher at secondary school lets him time to do so.

A lot of published articles and collaborations at colloquiums demonstrate his knowledge about the alboka and how much he loves it. As one of its more representative players, very many groups have called him for recordings and concerts: Tapia eta Leuria, Tomás San Miguel, Berrogüetto, Tejedor, and more frequently Kepa Junkera.

Kepa Junkera has produced Ibon's second major recording: Airea (Elkar 2004). This work will surely be an inflexion point for alboka's world and for basque music in general: new alboka's scales have been developed by Ibon and his friend and luthier Osés.

Other artist that collaborated at this new project are: Gilles Chabenat (his hurdy-gurdy appears at very many tracks ot the CD), Soledonna and Faltriqueira (Corse and Galician female voices that added a magical atraction to the project), Heikki Syrjänen, Andrea Pisu and Roston Kuchichian (their finnish liru and mänkeri, launeddas from Sardinia, and armenian duduk transform alboka melodies into a traditional world-workshop).