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Freres De Sac "Bag Brothers" MusTrDem MTD 222

This is the first recording by Christophe and Jean-Loup Sacchettini, playing flutes and squeeze-box respectively. Whistle wizard Christophe may be familiar from the French folk supergroup Dédale, and baby brother Jean-Loup has learnt his melodeon style from Dédale's leader Norbert Pignol.

The brothers Sacchettini offer us ten tracks in forty minutes. The title is a translation of the duo's name, itself already a pun, and there is also a slightly misleading subtitle "Bal Folk ...". A "bal folk" is like a ceilidh or a barn dance, and although one track of Bag Brothers does feature actual dancers, only about half the music here lends itself readily to dancing. Despite that, it's all mighty fine stuff and it certainly gets my toes tapping.

Christophe's exceptional talents are immediately obvious. The clarity and dexterity of his recorder playing is simply world class, comparable with Carlos Nuñez or Dick Lee, and he can crank out a cracking bourrée on the Berry bagpipes too. Jean-Loup's musical gifts are less apparent until one realises that he's the composer of more than half the music on this CD: his tunes sit comfortably beside traditional greats and modern compositions by the likes of Jon Swayne and Jean Blanchard.

There are many highlights on this recording, particularly in the middle. My own favourites, after repeated listening, are the two traditional bourrées d'auvergne, and Jean-Loup's compositions Change pas d'Main and Les Dernières Volontés d'un Danseur. The soaring sweetness of the recorder and whistle is truly uplifting, and the tunes are enchanting.

This is a very enjoyable CD, and a brilliant debut. The accordeon shows off its multiple personalities to great effect, and the flute sparkles on every track. Bag Brothers is full of little twists and surprises, but I won't spoil the fun: listen for yourself. Available from www.mustradem.com and well worth getting, now distributed in the UK by ADA of Belper in Derbyshire (www.adamailorder.co.uk).

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 49 of The Living Tradition magazine.