If you don’t know already: They’re a French «ensemble musique» with deep roots in the culture of the tsigani, gitanes or manouche traditions, musically and life-wise. Musically you could call them the unruly sons of Django Reinhardt, the spiritual father of all roaming musicians.
Broad strokes of jazz, blues, Balkan folk, French chansons are all visible on the big canvas painted by Bratsch. And make no mistake they’re a sly and seasoned bunch of tight-knit musicians, as tight as only old pro’s have earned it to be. Check their promo picture, some of them look like Mark Twain’s on steroids, don’t they? Well, whatever, they’re a band that always thrived on a healthy shot of witty, creative anarchy.
BRUNO GIRARD strings the viola (Bratsche in German and Alto in French, is a string instrument larger then the violin and it produces a deeper sound. JS Bach scored the Brandenburg Concertos No 6 for 2 Violas and John Cale, Cream, Nick Cave, Vampire Weekend and 10’000 Maniacs lead a long list of its role in contemporary pop) and the other founding member from 1975 is DAN GHARIBIAN. Joining those two over time were FRANCOIS CASTIELLO, NANO PEYLET, PIERRE JAQUET, GILLES ARRACHART and JEAN-MAURICE DUTRIAUX. Norbert Krampf from the FAZ wrote about the phenomena Bratsch in 2013: «The traditions of Eastern Europe or Armenia and the love for freedom that is jazz are the inspirations for the mostly original compositions by Bratsch. The quintet creates a very personal and imaginary kind of folklore that is worldmusic in the best interpretation of the word: inclusive and without borders while still respecting its various roots. In recent years their lyrics also dealt with political views, especially on their most recent album «Urban Bratsch». So that you never forget this iconic troupe, there’s a fantastic anthology «Brut de Bratsch 1973-2013» that’s documenting the band’s 40-year history, available in the form of 4 CD’s and DVD.
Brash-is-beautiful Bratsch is letting it rip on mo’ time and you better get ready for this last dizzying pirouette, we’re sorry to say. The music that has crunched your heart and heated your soul is dying down and at least live, the madness you could dance to might just go silent forever. Please bow to them when they take their last bow to you.
But is forever really forever, ever? Surely they don’t want the Mississihl called the river-of-no-return from now on, do they now?