Haratago (meaning “beyond” in Basque) reveals all of the strength of the Basa Ahaide, the name given to the vocal expression of mountain shepherds in the Basque Country that is traditionally sung solo and a capella. Drawing inspiration from his encounters with Turkish and Azerbaijani musicians, Julen Achiary now revisits this ancestral repertoire in a quartet with an unprecedented line-up: Nicolas Nageotte on the clarinet and duduk, Bastien Fontanille on the hurdy-gurdy and banjo, and Jordi Cassagne on the violone (aka the bass viola da gamba).
These orally-transmitted ancestral songs convey the shepherd’s emotions with regard to nature and his life in the high mountain summer pastures. From his early childhood, Julen Achiary has listened, heard… then sang these songs, firstly for his own enjoyment before he began looking for an appropriate way in which he could share these songs with an audience.
“I wanted to share these precious modal melodies that are so well hidden within our valleys. The only snag being that it just wouldn’t have made any sense to sing them on my own, during a concert, in front of an audience. I spent years searching and forging the way that best suited me: there have been many encounters, many travels, many trials and experiments. Haratago is the result of this long quest, these years of research and it is an ensemble through which we continue to search, explore, invent and create. It is indeed a creation as this living tradition is in perpetual movement, so much so that it needs invention to keep on living, and we tackle this challenge with both modesty and joy, firmly rooted not only in our ancestral culture but also in our contemporary approach.” (J. Achiary)
« Iturri zaharretik edaten dut,
ur berria edaten,
beti berri den ura,
betiko iturri zaharretik »
“In drink in the old fountain,
I drink new water,
which is always new
from the old fountain of always”
« Haratago in the press… »
“… And now we get to the bit that, for me, will remain the highlight of this festival, the Haratago project structured around the songs of Basque shepherds from the province of La Soule, the Basa Ahaide (wild chants). This project is directed by Julen Achiary (voice), Nicolas Nageotte (clarinet), Bastien Fontanille (hurdy-gurdy), Jordi Cassagne (violone). These songs without lyrics, dedicated to the eagle, the alpine chough and the vulture, are etched with nobility and passion.
They speak volumes on the relationship the shepherds have with nature, on their capacity to marvel, on their sensitivity to grandeur. These shepherds of yesteryear were not alone in their pastures since they were accompanied by so much beauty.
Traditionally, these songs are performed a capella, but Julen Achiary and his friends orchestrated them in their own way by looking towards the east and the Balkans.
Julen Achiary’s voice beautifully conveys this grandeur. A voice that is versatile, powerful, but never too forceful. It sometimes has the inflections of a muezzin. It seems to take example from the majestic birds it evokes as it rises in increasing levels, drawing on the hurdy-gurdy or the clarinet like an eagle soars on ascending air currents. The relationship between Nicolas Nageotte’s clarinet and Julen Achiary’s voice is breathtaking: each boosting the other in order to rise to the highest clouds, both unfurling their wings.”
JF MONDOT, JAZZ MAGAZINE