Daniel Malavergne, Patrick Vaillant and Manu Théron
Chin Na Na Poun
I have been following mandolinist Patrick Vaillant's career for pretty much its entirety (well, its recorded entirety, anyway), from his folk and avant garde work in various ensembles with Riccardo Tesi through remarkable ensembles like the mando-centric Melonious Quartet. Of late he has been exploring songs instead of strictly instrumental work and Chin Na Na Poun offers one of his most unique works to date in a trio with Daniel Malavergne and Manu Théron .
Victor Gelu was a songwriter and poet of nineteenth century Marseille, classically trained but enamored with the streets of this rough and tumble seaport. The poems are earthy, sometimes crude in both content and construction, and the offer a clever musical ensemble an opportunity to expand their meaning. Singer Théron, tuba player Malavergne and Vaillant take full advantage of the structural quirks of Gelu and create a compelling poetry of their own, a conversational approach that is at times lyrical, at times confrontational. Their reinterpretations are not meant to be period pieces, and bear little resemblance to what Gelu might have intended for his times, but they are certainly of a street-wise style he would have embraced.
Victor Gelu's poetry was all written in Occitan, so the booklet's French translations of the title track (no other lyrics are included) are a welcome aid to exploring the poetry a bit, but for the most part, the instrumental arrangements provide their own rich, if more cryptic, interpretation of life in 19th Century Marseille, even if seen through a 21st Century 'world music' lens. - CF
CD available from cdRoots