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World Music CD Reviews North American

CHARIVARI

By Paul-Emile Comeau
Published June 27, 2006

A Trip To The Holiday House
Rounder

Since Charivari’s debut on Rounder five years ago, the group has undergone a few changes. A new bass player and drummer, not to mention fiddler/accordionist/singer Jonno Frishberg, have joined singer/guitarist J. Randy Vidrine and fiddler Mitchell Reed, the original core of the group. This disc features a half-dozen originals, but the group draws mostly from the repertoires of Nathan Abshire, Dennis McGee and the Balfa Brothers. Charivari not only distinguishes itself by the fervor of the performances but also by the originality of the arrangements, which are occasionally injected with subtle elements of klezmer and other non-Cajun styles. The accordion is featured less prominently than on the first album, but the twin fiddles give the songs an uplifting quality. Then there’s Frishberg, a fabulous musician who sings on his own “Neitzche’s Waltz,” a powerful song of yearning that’s one of the album’s highlights. Another track with a surprisingly pleasurable Yiddish flavor is “Cajun Klezmer Breakdown,” to which Vidrine wrote French lyrics. A Trip To The Holiday House is one of the best Cajun albums of the past year.