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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Les voix d'Itxassou

NATO 1957



Le Temps Des Cerises [Prélude]

Ana Sefalelku

The Patriot Game

Hasta Siempre Comandante

Hasta Siempre Comandante

La Légende De L'Oiseau

Bella Ciao

N’kosi Sikelel’i Afrika

Nuit Sur Une Place a Helsinki

Jazz De Pékin

Wieder Im Gefängnis

Buenaventura Durruti

Wounded Knee 1890-1973

Le Rêve D'Itxassou

Le Temps Des Cerises [Postlude]

Arranged by Tony Coe


Cello – Jenny Ward Clarke

Conductor – Tony Coe

Double Bass – Chris Laurence

Drums, Bells [Chinese] – Stuart Elliott

Flute, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Ray Warleigh

Guitar – Hugh Burns

Percussion, Vibraphone – Franck Ricotti

Piano – Tony Hymas

Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Piano [2nd Piano] – Tony Coe

Trombone – Malcolm Griffiths

Trumpet – Al Downey

Trumpet, Bugle – John Barclay, Stuart Brookes

Viola – Rusen Gunes

Violin – Alexander Balanescu, Lis Perry, Nicholas Ward, Sharon Aslam

Voices; Benat Achiary; Jean-Claude Adelin; Marie Atger; Abed Azrié; Liria Begeja; Maggie Bell; Françoise Fabian; Marianne Faithfull; Violeta Ferrer; Sandrine Klajic; José Menese; Aura Msimang-Lewis; Ali Farka Touré

Recorded at Lansdowne Studio, London 1989 [64:30]

The reissue of this 1989 album marks a quarter-century since its original release. It’s a protest album, drawing on disparate traditions and musicians to form a kind of opera based on revolutionary songs. Itxassou, by the way, is a small village in the Basque country, in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques department of south-west France.

Arrangements – where they are not his own compositions – are by Tony Coe. And his instrumental cohorts are joined by an array of voices - some of whom will be familiar, others not - in pursuit of this revolutionary (or agit-prop) agenda. For those indifferent to its theme it can be listened on purely musical grounds, but it is far more enlightening to engage with the texts, which are all printed in full and in English translation, to savour some or much that Coe is trying to achieve here.

The opening track brings out the rich orchestral sonorities of which Coe is capable and indeed the elevation of supportive instrumental colour is paramount here and elsewhere, not least the Eritrean Blues ethos of Ana Sefalelku, where Ali Farka Touré’s instrumental and vocal skills can be enjoyed.The Patriot Game uses the tune of The Merry Month of May, whilst there are two versions of the Revolutionary Latin-American song Hasta siempre, one impassioned, the other more chanson-like and graced by the parlando of Violeta Ferrer. The rhythmically enlivening is juxtaposed with elements that are more folkloric in this album, and N’kosi Sikelel’i Afrika – which one feared could be taken too raucously – is instead brassy but more clement with an oddly Edwardian-sounding descant too.

There’s a flamenco spirit to Nuit Sur Une Place a Helsinki and the accordion and Coe’s soprano sax evoke Jazz de Pékin. Marianne Faithfull is in full Weimar-chanteuse mode for Wieder Im Gefängnis whilst Coe is keen to temper the fervour of the iconic Buenaventura Durruti with quasi-classical elements. Here and elsewhere his handling of orchestral colour is exemplary and he has some first-class classical and jazz musicians at his disposal. Le temps des cerises sounds rather like Coe had been listening to Mike Westbrook – it has a Citadel/Room 315 feel to the sound world. This is the swingiest, jazziest and sunniest number – and the one that’s most redolent of Coe’s earlier playing and writing. It’s also the track I liked best.

This is a very worthwhile restoration. It comes with a good French-English booklet with, as noted before, full texts and translations.

Jonathan Woolf

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