This gorgeous CD, cloaked in its mysterious red cover, came across my desk a few weeks ago. I finally had time to listen and can honestly say, this is completely a winner. I have heard it multiple times, enjoying it anew as I make new discoveries in the listening.

Rhizome is a duo from Quebec: Anne-Marie Leclerc and Louis Charbonneau. Between them, they have composed all eleven tunes on this recording. Anne-Marie plays fiddle and trumpet; Louis plays diatonic accordion. Previously, both musicians played with the trio Ziguezon. Louis also played with Les Pieds Léger, and Anne-Marie played with La Chasse Balcon, the band that popularized impromptu concerts of trad music on streets and balconies of Montreal. Here they have gone completely beyond what they know about traditional Quebecois tunes, composing their own music that draws from those traditions but takes the genre completely beyond and above.

To round out their sound here, Louis and Anne-Marie invited six of the most accomplished musicians in the Quebecois trad community to join them in these recordings: Eric McDonald on guitar; Thierry Clouette on bouzouki and foot percussion; Gauillaume Turcotte on piano and foot percussion; Benjamin Tremblay-Carpentier on harmonica and jaw harp; Marc Maziade on electric guitar, bass and foot percussion and Olivier Arsenault on bohdran. The result is absolute perfection. They all make such beautiful music together.

It’s a sound that evokes old French bal folk dances, but with a very contemporary feel. All instrumental, it includes jigs, reels, polkas and crooked tunes that make you sit up and take notice. “Polka Louis,” composed by Anne-Marie, just makes you get up and dance whether you want to or not! And then there is the very beautiful and plaintive “Valse Beatrice” that makes you want to waltz, whirling nostalgically around the floor Viennese style with the ghost of the long-lost love of your life.

One interesting thing that sets this album quite apart is that this band is totally not afraid of musical meter that strays from the usual 4/4, 2/4 or 6/8 folk music time signatures. Track seven is titled “5/8 à 58.” Written by Louis in the 5/8 time signature, this very interesting tune makes you think of ancient French music. You envision a hall full of dancers, ladies with swirling skirts and dashing mustachioed men all moving to this relentless rhythm.

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