Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Debut CD of Les Guitares Magiques

CD front: Les Guitares Magiques (SABAM, LGM 17-1) (2017)
A couple of years ago, while preparing an article on Les Loups and the duo's recording of the tango Guitarra que llora, I had the good fortune to discover a contemporary version of the tune uploaded at YouTube, which convincingly recreated the original 1928 recording by Gastón Bueno Lobo and Oscar Alemán. The recorded performance of this re-take of Guitarra que llora was made by a Belgian trio named Les Guitares Magiques and I still count this performance as a magical exsample of music played by very skilled musicians who know and respect their roots. The video performance is certainly good enough to have a reprise here

The video was published February 2015 and the trio consisted of Raf Timmermans playing conventional guitar, René Stock on double bass and Gijs Hollebosch playing lap steel guitar. The trio had uploaded a couple more videos featuring Hawaiian inspired music, which confirmed my impression of a talented ensemble. I subscribed to the video channel of LGM and recently discovered another re-take of a Les Loups recording by  Raf Timmermans and Gijs Hollebosch inserted below

This performance by Les Guitares Magiques of the waltz Ramona excellently recreates the 1928 version of the tune by Les Loups and made me wish for more. Fortunately, there is more music by Les Guitares Magiques available. In the notes with the Ramona video published October last year it is stated that the debut CD by the ensemble has been issued. I found it available at the website of Les Guitares Magiques, and here is the tracklist of featured music at the disc
CD track list
At the CD Les Guitares Magiques feature Raf Timmermans playing National steel, acoustic guitar, mandolin, slack key and ukulele, Gijs Hollebosch playing Hawaiian steel guitar, acoustic guitar, mandolin, ukulele and tiple and further Mathias Moors playing double bass.
(l-r): Raf Timmermans, Mathias Moors, Gijs Hollebosch (photo by Walter-PETROSA-Cuyvers)
Les Guitares Magiques invited some guests to perform and record together at the CD, they are: Jan De Smet featuring vocal and ukulele on track 3, Maarten Flamand (acoustic guitar) on track 4 and 10, Frederik Goossens (ukulele) on track 5, 6 and 9, Johnny Joris (vocal, banjo) on track 8, Esther Lybeert (vocal) on track 13 and Guido Belcanto (vocal) on track 15. The repertoire is a mixed bag of tunes and songs, many of them associated with the Hawaiian hype that swept the world in the first decades of the previous century such as the arrangements of Singing The Blues (track 5) and Wringin' and Twistin' (track 10) (in the Sol Hoopii style), Ghost Dance (a strange lap steel exercise originally recorded by the Truett & George Hawaiian duo), the Kohala march medley (track 6), three tunes from the Les Loups repertoire (besides Ramona in track 7, you have La Porteña es una Papa in track 11 and Criollita in track 12), Kostas Bézos' The False Kisses of Women in track 4, two songs associated with Gino Bordin: the French chanson J'écoute la Guitare (with vocal by Esther Lybeert in track 13) and Serenade Bleu (track 16). Singing is also featured in Het Bibbelebomse Eiland in track 3 (- a kind of On The Beach at Waikiki sung in Dutch by Jan de Smet), Ramona with vocal by Guido Belcanto and Dutch lyrics in track 15, and Caroline with English lyrics sung by Johnny Joris in track 8. Further there are two examples of slack key guitar playing in track 9 and 14. The arrangements of the featured music at the CD are great, all involved in the project have provided excellent performance and the CD certainly invites to repeated listening. Recommended, definitely! - The CD is available for purchase at the website of Les Guitares Magiques, more info with examples in streaming audio here,  and it is also available from Grass Skirt Records, more info here.

To end this small review, I'll insert another video of a live performance by Les Guitares Magiques, here playing Singing The Blues 


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