The gypsy music of Central Europe is combined with bebop, post-bop, and free jazz influences by France-based acoustic band Bratsch. While their name is derived from a type of viola used to accompany Tsigane vocalists, the trio re-creates the traditional sounds of cymbaloms and percussion on guitar, accordion, and clarinet. Bratsch was formed in 1975 by guitarist Dan Gharibian and violinist Bruno Girard. Gharibian, who was raised in an Armenian home, was inspired by the Armenian, Russian, Greek and Oriental music favored by his grandparents. Although he played with teen-aged rock bands, he became fascinated with the music of Django Reinhardt at the age of 14. Girard, who studied violin at the age of nine, refused to read music, preferring to play by memory. After receiving a degree in biology, he spent a decade working in science while playing music part-time. Although they initially mixed a global range of musical styles including Arabic and South African music, Bratsch soon shifted their focus to gypsy jazz. The group also features accordion player François Castiello and clarinet player Nano Peylet. ~ Craig Harris
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