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Regis Gizavo: Mikea

Regis Gizavo is the latest musician from Madagascar (although he currently calls Europe his home) to benefit from the newfound western intrigue in that rich musical microcosm. The accordionist’s debut, Mikea (Shanachie 64093; 45:10), is a fascinating introduction to a notable musician, as well as a window on the vitality of the accordion tradition in this corner of the world. As with other Madagascar music, western listeners can detect links-a kind of twisted familiarity-to familiar traditions, as heard through a distorting cultural prism. In this case, the rhythms and textures of Cajun and other American swamp music, as well as French chanson and African styles, bubble up, even while the music asserts its own cultural stamp.

A deft accordionist who can suggest the presence of a band in his squeezebox, Gizavo sings and is complemented by French percussionist David Mirandon. Gizavo goes solo, with abandon, on “Mahavatse” imbuing the fast instrumental with mesmeric energy force. This is infectious, entrancing music: file under virtuosic world folk.

Originally Published