Saturday, May 28, 2011

Old waltzes

     I never get tired of old waltzes. I learned the first one from Rejean Simard, who taught it at La Grande Rencontre in Montreal in 2004.  Monsieur Simard is from Chutes-aux-Outardes or Sept-Iles, I believe, in any case way up in the North.  He builds one-row accordions and plays in a solid, forceful style.  Several years ago I played this tune for Pete Sutherland, who said, "Oh, yeah, that's the 'Old Timer's Waltz.'"

     The second waltz is "Valse des bébés," which was recorded by Alfred Montmarquette.  I got my version from Denis Pepin.


  1. Outstanding. That "old time" quality ... every style of folk music has it and I always find myself drawn to it. It's perhaps less syncopated, not rhythmically influenced by jazz? The opposite of the "old time" quality would be the stuff that Pignol and Milleret are doing ... very rhythmically and harmonically modern, even when still in a folk music setting. What about playing parts -- counter-melodies -- rather than in unison. How new is that? Anyway, lovely stuff.

  2. I do think that these waltzes indeed stem from a time before commercial recordings, and were probably "captured" at an early stage of the recording industry, before the rhythmical and harmonic paradigms of early jazz were very widespread.
    I occasionally enjoy listening to jazzed-up trad ala Milleret/Pignol, and accept it as a different branch of the art, but to me the old melodies, and the manner of capturing them on particular instruments, are the core of my interest in musical traditions. I also greatly appreciate new tunes that sound like old ones. There are so many subtle facets and a deep sense of the fingerprints of long-since-deceased musicians that one can hear in the playing of traditional musicians, much of which can be obscured (in my opinion) when a player showcases too much technique and an abundance of applied post-jazz musical theory.