........... Musique - Alba

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"No matter how good their recordings are, to see Alba live is the best..."

Alba

 It was a warm September evening. Walking up the road to Pigna, we wondered if this could be the right night... The streets were empty and dark. Where were all the people, the lights? Nothing in this ancient hill town of Balagne hinted there would be a concert.  

As darkness descended, we stumbled across the auditorium and saw there would indeed be a concert — we were just very early! With relief, we stationed ourselves outside the entrance and heard through the aged wooden door, a tune that seemed to be Middle Eastern, Klezmer and Gypsy music all playing at the same time (I later learned it was “Beie A Stancia Dulori”). As Alba performed their sound check rehearsal, they worked over and over this musical phrase until it was perfect. This was my introduction to a band that has become my favorite in Corsica, and my favorite band anywhere. Alba.

That was in 2004. Since then the group has changed some members and refined its style but still their blend of musical genre filtered through the traditions of Corsica has made them truly gifted artists. Whenever I attend one of their concerts, (which at last count was 8) their “a cappella” harmonies raise goose bumps, and their complex instrumentation always astounds. Alba has produced 4 CDs since their formation. Their latest “Radiche Suprane” is a example of their artistry, mixing poetry written by Dominique Colonna and Santu Massiani with Alba’s music and lyrics.

No matter how good their recordings are, to see Alba live is the best. They are talented instrumentalists but it always surprises me that each of them has a beautiful voice that  is unique but can blend into that combination that is the essence of polyphonie. Their music spans so much and it is always acoustic — except for Eric’s new electric bass — switching tempo and mood with such ease they could be a talented jazz ensemble.

Alba consists of Benjamin Dolingnon, (vocals and guitar) Cecce Guironnet, (vocals and woodwinds) Cedric Savelli, (vocals, violin, lute and guitar) Eric Ferrari, (bass) Jean-Francois Vega, (vocals, guitar and lute) and Sebastien LaFarge (vocals, harmonium and recorder).

When Sebastien’s pure tenor soars while singing “Sta Mane” as the rest of the band harmonizes “Kyrie Eleison” behind him is a musical experience that is so pure and elemental you could be back in the 14th century. Cedric on violin can show passion, sadness or joy. Jean-Francois’ ringing lute sounds as if a court musician from the past had appeared, Cecce’ on bass clarinet can do amazing harmonies with everything from harmonium to violin, Benjamin playing his guitar sets a rhythm that, along with Eric on bass, creates a solid foundation for Sebastien on his harmonium, completing a joyful mélange of sound that transports the audience to a place that is timeless but always Corsica.  

To me they remain true to the original roots of Corsican music, a blend of every influence that has passed through Corsica but still at its core remains truly Corsican. As I fall under their spell, I hear traces of North Africa, France, Italy, Spain and just about any land or culture that has passed through the Mediterranean, overlaying the unique structure that is the hauntingly sad Corsican “polyphonie” style.

Interested in learning more about about Alba?

To see L'Alba concert footage from fleurdecorse, check out our downloads here: http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=fleurdecorse&search_type=&aq=f .

To see read more about L'Alba from the 2004 Concert in Pigna, click here.

To read more about Alba, visit their website www.l-alba.com.

Interested in learning more about Corsican music?

 

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