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World Music CD Reviews World Fusion

BAGAD KEMPER

By ROBERT KAYE
Published January 25, 2006

Sud-Ar Su
Keltia Musique

Celebrated nearly 20 times as Brittany’s champions, Bagad Kemper is among the most popular, and eclectic, pipe ensembles throughout the world. The ensemble is composed of some 30 to 40 musicians, divided into bagpipes, cornemuses, bombardes and percussion. Capturing the group in concert on Sud Ar-Su (the South), the band is augmented by accordion, bass guitar, trumpet, saxophone and brass section. The group is joined by first-rate Galician piper Susana Seivane on the gaita. Gallant and remarkably talented, there isn’t anything this ensemble won’t try. Traditional Bretagne tunes are its backbone, certainly; it also commands attention for its spin on Irish, Basque, Yiddish and other genres not usually associated with massed pipes and drums. For instance, after a fleeting drum intro, Bagad Kemper launches into the Brazilian Jazz classic, “Mas Que Nada.” This is followed by a tour-de-force modern arrangement of the traditional melody, “Ar Plac’h Manked.” “Tournez les jupons,” a European dance melody, also smokes.