Released in 1998, Condaghes (Silex/Audivis) is a superb trio recording featuring Italian trumpet player Paolo Fresu, Breton guitarist Jacques Pellen and Breton singer Erik Marchand. Double bass player Henri Texier (also born in Brittany) contributes to several tracks as well. What sounds like a very unlikely combination on paper (a jazz trumpeter, a classically-trained jazz guitarist and a traditional Breton singer) actually works wonders on a recording where modal music becomes the shared common ground.

Fresu Pellen Marchand Trio - Condaghes (1998)
Fresu Pellen Marchand Trio – Condaghes (1998)

As well as that, all individual members are musical adventurers themselves and constant explorers of new sounds. Paolo Fresu as a relentless experimenter on various eclectic and multimedia projects; Jacques Pellen as a sought-after sideman on the contemporary Breton music scene in his quest for “a jazz aesthetic under a Breton influence” or as a composer with his Celtic Procession project; Erik Marchand through countless projects with contemporary Breton, Romanian, Serbian, Turkish or Rajasthani musicians.

More than a musical endeavour, Condaghes also ponders on the long term preservation of a language and of a cultural heritage in a globalised world. The word “Condaghes” refers to the first written 11th/12th century collections of writings in the Sardinian language (the minority romance language related to Latin and Italian spoken today by native speakers on the island of Sardinia and abroad). In other words, Condaghes draws a parallel between Breton and Sardinian not only as minority languages in a wider Europe but also as meaning

all that: speech, writing, rhythm, dance, storytelling and poetry.  The expression of a people and a civilisation with an ear to the past, yet looking to the future and open to the echoes and influences of their neighbours […] Meeting other brother peoples confirms, if needs be, the voices, the echoes, the intimate bonds that unites them deep down in their roots, beyond all notions of time and space. (cover notes)

Like every song on Condaghes, “Ar Sorserez” (the witch) is based on the traditional repertoire of Breton dance music and slowly builds up here with Paolo Fresu’s muted and multi-effect trumpet beautifully responding to Erik Marchand’s calls in the traditional kan a diskan mode.

 Condaghes has been out of print for several years.