Mapou

COMPOSERS: Various
LABELS: Riverboat
WORKS: Mapou
PERFORMER: René Lacaille
CATALOGUE NO: TUGCD 1033

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An issue from Réunion itself, Mapou, highlights the unique situation of the island. Midway between Madagascar and Mauritius, it was uninhabited until the 17th century when French people and their language took charge, but with imported slaves in a numerical majority. The population soon interbred, and the music followed suit.

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It is a striking blend of chanson and Latin melodies set against African patterns and a touch of Madagascar’s salegy, as embodied here by veteran Creole performer René Lacaille’s hoarse, growling delivery. Twenty short songs in this collection feature accordion prominently, along with assorted percussion, but it’s the gruff charm of the tunes that carries the day.