I've long had a fascination with the South of France and Corsica. Both Tchan-Tchou and Bousquet were from the south and each has a unique style characterised by a rigid, almost locked right hand and an extensive use downstrokes. Moreno (my favorite all around contemporary player) received a good deal of tutoring from Tchan-Tchou, and in all actually both Tchan-Tchou and Bousquet figure largely into his sound, more than any other contemporary guitarist. Corsica has given us some great guitarists - Jean-Jacques Gristi and Rodolphe Raffalli among todays generation. But the question has always been - "Who were the other guitar players in this region during this time? There had to be more than two or three."
So, I've been on the search for other players in that style and came across an album by someone named Angelo. The record was listed as being "Corsican Guitar Music" so I will assume that he is of Corsican extraction. I was originally told the record wasn't that good, but I actually love it.
The full title is "Week-End Guitar - Angelo et ses Guitares et Mandolines". Sure enough, the same rigid technique is there and he is playing both acoustic and electric guitar. Sonically the album is wild! Angelo begins with an intense "Caravan" complete with funky Arabic overtones in the vocals, to a 1950's - 60's American instrumental pop sound, to some fiery samba on "Tico Tico" (the rhythm guitar on this track is outstanding) to a ballady "Nuages" and a very Tchan-Tchou-esque "Les Yeux Noirs" to a very melancholy solo piece on sounds a lot like "Jeux Interdits".
When playing electric, his tone is sumptuous, very similar to Jimmy Bryant's and the acoustic tone from his DiMauro is great. The mandolins stick to the background and act like a string section would, while the electric slide guitar (yes, that's right, electric slide guitar) just seems to come in and fill-up space. A little out of place, but I don't mind, just adds to the uniqueness of the session.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of this album are the different musical flavors contained on the record. Like Bousquet, Angelo takes the myriad of flavors permeating throughout the Mediterranean region and places them into what we consider a modern Gypsy Jazz sound. Swing, Samba - are certainly jazz and Django influenced. The arabic overtones could very well come from North Africa , the use of mandolins, solo guitar with classical overtones probably have their roots in traditional Corsican music. Add to this his switching between acoustic and electric guitars the palette is pretty diverse.
This is what I love about the old school - the use of anything and everything around them to make very cool music, the kitchy electric sound especially. As a player I'd call him a more adventurous Tchan-Tchou, but technically not as intense as Bousquet.
Seek this record out if you can, it's really an interesting and rewarding listen and another snapshot at a time and place which is still pretty mysterious and uncharted by todays standards.