by Rod Christie
Who: Jeszcze Raz
What: Trans-Atlantic Folk
Where: Montreal QC
To Contact: Heather Kelly, (416) 364-5701, firstname.lastname@example.org
Led by Polish pianist and vocalist Paul Kunigis, the sounds and influences of Montreal’s Jeszcze Raz (pronounced yes-chay raz, meaning “one more time” in Polish) list off like a Lonely Planet travel guide. On their latest release Balagane, lyrics are supplied by Kunigis in Polish, Hebrew, French and Arabic. Add to that instrumentation ranging from accordion and harmonium (Caroline Meunier), violin (Carmen Piculeata), clarinet (JD Levassuer) trombone (Marc Tremblay), as well as the more traditional guitar (Yves Desrosiers) percussion (RÃ©mi Leclerc and Francois Lalonde) and bass (Tommy Babin), and the listener is left with a whirlwind of harmonic styles. Held together by the rich voice and driving force of Kunigis, Balagane is a passionate vessel filled with themes of triumph, sadness, love, history and politics. Born to a Jewish father in Poland and raised as a Catholic by his mother when the family moved to Israel, Kunigis immigrated to Canada when he was 19, initially setting up in Toronto. A self-taught musician, he discovered that the unique heritage of Quebec allowed him to express himself, and soon combined all of his influences, including American blues and gospel styles, gathering around him some top-flight musicians and forming Jeszcze Raz. Listeners will not be disappointed with Balagane; a unique trip through many cultures that still sounds wholly original.