Since 2006, veteran Jamaican singer songwriter Winston McAnuff (b. 1957) and French musician and producer François-Xavier Bossard (aka Fixi) have established a rare yet splendid musical partnership which sees the duo fuse roots reggae music with accordion-based French-style “musette”. Initially released in September 2013 to great critical acclaim, A New Day was reissued in April 2014 with four additional bonus tracks.
Despite being often associated with French music, the accordion is a global instrument which has found its way into countless music traditions around the world since it started being mass-produced in the mid-19th century. Born into a family of preachers of Scottish descent, Winston McAnuff grew up listening to and singing with his father, an accordion player who used the instrument as a cheap alternative to a church organ. In the singer’s words, “a big part of playing with Fixi is paying respect to that”.
The first collaboration between the two musicians dates back to 2006 when McAnuff recorded the now legendary Paris Rockin’ album with Fixi and his Paris-based rap-musette band Java. Already, the blend of accordion-based triple time music with Reggae, Afrobeat, rock, soul or rap combined with superb piano and string arrangements worked wonders.
As a musician, producer and arranger, Fixi is also a relentless traveller and the diversity of musicians who collaborated to A New Day is a testament to the project’s ambitious scope and to the duo’s open mindedness when it comes to breaking down barriers. The recording saw contributions from legendary Nigerian drummer Tony Allen, Maloya musician from the Réunion island Olivier Araste, French rock singer Mathieu Chédid (aka M) or Bumcello’s percussionist Cyril Atef amongst others. As a result, only one song on the original album (“I’m a rebel”) can be labelled as “pure reggae”.
And when Fixi swaps the accordion for the piano on songs like “Wha Dem Say”, Winston’s magnificent soulful and blues-tinged voice takes centre stage and captivates. A New Day, a new sound and a truly distinguished collaboration.