2003 Album from Platinum-selling Spanish Musician Recognized as the New King of the Celts. Nunez's Virtuosity Inspired Billboard to Label Him the "Jimi Hendrix of the Bagpipes" and BBC Radio Cites Him as "One of the World's Most Exciting and Most Serious Musicians." Nunez's Albums have Featured Guests Like Jackson Browne, Ry Cooder, Noa, the Waterboys, Supertramp, Luz Casal, Dulce Pontes, Madredeus and the Chieftains. His Previous Releases Brought Together Celtic Music with Flamenco, Spanish-latin Pop and Cuban Music. This Album is a Renewed Tribute to his Celtic Roots, in Particular to the Music of Breton, Embodied by Nunez' Characteristic Passion and Energy.
This disc represents one of my recurring sounds of this summer on the Atlantic seaboard of France and is an indicator of an ongoing musical continuum running down from the Hebrides, through Wales, Ireland and Brittany to "Green Spain" - Cantabria, Asturias and Galicia. The Celtic folk/classical/jazz tradition is alive and well and represented superbly here by Galician maestro Carlos Nunez and his brilliant collaborators, reviving memories of his extraordinary debut disc, Brotherhood of Stars (RCA Victor 74321 453752), which featured various and significant contributions from The Chieftains and Ry Cooder.
Here, as the title suggests, the music is infused with the Breton musical heritage it pays tribute to, from the contributions of various bagadou (pipe bands) to harp doyen Alan Stivell, "el grande", as Carlos describes him, Dan Ar Braz and the charismatic singer-songwriter Gilles Servat. The opening Tro Breizh is, literally, a tour of the Breton lands and their varied musical styles, with Nunez's flute to the fore, among accompaniments by turns refined and abrasive. Noite pecha and its following Gavotte-Pandeirada were written/arranged with Alan Stivell and here, in the nostalgic melancholia, there are echoes of the latter's recent masterpiece, Au dela de mots. Dan Ar Braz's Une Autre Fin de Terre is a melodic guitar driven instrumental brought to a resounding climax by the pipes and bombardes of the bagadou of Lokoal Mendon and Auray (a companion piece to Green Lands on Nuit Celtique - see below).
The great collector and restorer of Breton folk music, Polig Montjarret, is namechecked for the next two tracks which contrast very greatly with each other - Karante Doh Doue is a marvellous choral piece sung by the only male choir in Brittany and bearing great resemblance to the Basque vocal tradition (see Oldarra (Erato Detour 0630-19345-2), whereas Polka de Karnoed is a brisk, very folksy insrumental piece. In the following ballad, Gilles Servat and Bleunwenn relate another traditional song very winningly, then Nunez brings together the pipe traditions of his own Galicia with those of Ireland and Scotland in self-explanatory The Three Pipers. Saint Patrick's An Dro is the album's masterpiece (and also featured on Nuit Celtique), with a simple flute based introduction leading to a massively affecting massed piped finale. Eimar Quinn sings the lilting Yann Derrien superbly before Nunez pays tribute to the Breton influence on Galicia and Dan Ar Braz does the same for him regarding France. The closing Ponthus et Sidoine finds us in a monastery in Catalonia with the great viola da gamba player Jordi Savall, producing a unique piece of music whose only comparator, to my knowledge is the still astonishing Chartres by Swiss violinist Paul Giger (ECM). Ten, fifteen listens later I remain totally entranced by this disc and the simultaneous Nuit Celtique (SAN5111862), a compilation featuring Nunez but also Stivell, Ar Braz, Gilles Servat, Denez Prigent's astonishing duet with Lisa Gerrard, Gortoz A Ran (featured in Black Hawk Down) and, again, numerous bagadou. In addition to the quality of the music in these two discs, the fact that Sony would release such an inflammatory version of The Foggy Dew by Servat and ex-Dubliner Ronnie Drew is the source of some comfort to me - maybe "old Europe", via Japan(!), still has at least some sort of artistic leverage against the right-wing, "Protestant", "born-again", materialistic, militaristic, hypocritical claptrap that now appears to dominate every aspect of mainstream America, and, if the powers that be had their way, would do so in the UK as well, in these sad and desperate times.
- Neil Horner, MusicWeb
Carlos Nunez is the poster boy of Galician music, but it's a title he has earned by both talent and hard work. With chops like Hendrix on the local bagpipes (called gaita), but a penchant for researching the tradition and its origins, he has become one of Spain's most recognizable musicians and a major force behind the reconstruction of the Galician musical tradition. Northern Spain has always been as much a part of the Celtic world as a Romance country, with strong ties to both Ireland and Scotland, and it was those Nunez has explored, as well as other strands which have taken his music through flamenco and even into North Africa and the Middle East. Under the dictatorial Franco regime, regional music in Spain was suppressed, with flamenco - actually an import - becoming the national sound. As a student of Baroque music at the Madrid Conservatory, Nunez helped investigate and revitalize a great deal of what had been lost. But even before that, he'd become something of a musical force, having begun learning the pipes at age eight and performing soon after, actually having his first international date when he was 13 at the Lorient Celtic Festival in France, where he met Paddy Moloney of the Chieftains and suggested the band make an album of Galician music. At 15, he recorded for the first time, and three years later he was guesting with the Chieftains on the soundtrack Treasure Island, one of the first discs to mix Irish and Galician music. From there he seemed to become an extra Chieftain, touring with them around the world and recording, before undertaking his solo debut, Brotherhood of Stars. Given the number of guests, the record was very aptly named - over 50 artists lent their talents to the project, including the Chieftains, Sinead O'Connor, Cuba's Vieja Trova Santiguera, and Ry Cooder. The album was a major breakthrough for Galician music, bringing it into the national spotlight, and becoming the first Celtic album ever to go platinum in Spain. After touring in support of the record, Nunez took time off to research the connections between his native Galicia and the music of the south and east, which led to Os Amores Libres in 2000, another star-studded disc - over 80 guests this time around, from Jackson Browne to Waterboy Mike Scott, and inevitably, the odd Chieftain - which took his sound in an entirely new direction, opening up fresh landscapes for Galician music and keeping him ahead of a pack which was growing behind him, while showing that he was more than just a remarkable instrumentalist, but also a serious scholar of the genre.
- Chris Nickson, AllMusic