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ODARRA, Le Chant Basque
(Detour/Erato Records 1997)
By Brian Grosjean

    Odarra is a men's choir from the Basque region. Their album "Le Chant Basque" is a stately, considered rendition of traditional Basque music. Most songs are based on Catholic themes such as the prayerful "Egon Atzarririk", or "Aita Gurea", their sung "Our Father", which is sung with strength and reverence to delight any priest. . In addition, there are dance songs with flutes and love songs to pass the long Basque nights, songs to calm crying babies, and even sailing songs. Odarra's range and intonation reminds me of men's choirs from Russia and Georgia, but Odarra sounds more familiar. The closest I can compare them is to some of the more interesting Gregorian chants or plainsongs. The group's name is from the Basque word for élan or impulse. Their love for their people, as it is with any minority living among an overwhelming majority, is strong and tied to the land and its history. The album is recorded in a chapel deep in Basque country, and, like the foundations of the ancient church they sing in, Odarra's love for their homeland goes deep and strong.

Copyright©WWUH: May/June Program Guide, 1999

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