Vincent Bucher

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Vincent Bucher is a French harmonica player that I discovered because my good friend Pat asked me to find him a CD of Vincent's works entitled 'Love Call'. I tried to find some info about Vincent on the net and, connecting various sources, found that he was a 'protégé' of Sugar Blue in the years Sugar spent in France. Later, it seems, Vincent left for a road tour of America with Sugar Blue and soaked up on Chicago style harp. There he played along Jimmy Johnson and Louisiana Red, amongst others. Nowadays, he plays mainly with musicians from Madagascar and Africa, especially with Tao Ravao, although he has done session work for French blues performers, namely Paul Personne, Bill Deraime and Patrick Verbeke.

Vincent is an excellent player with great fluidity and tone. His style with Tao Ravao is very much his own, probably because he has developed his skill in a musical area where harmonica isn't normally at the forefront. His blues style as featured on Paul Personne's 'Instantanés' is clean and toneful and makes extensive use of alternate tunings. The CD 'Love Call' (that started my whole interest in Vincent) is no longer available in France, but Tao and Vincent have two other CDs out called "Tany Manga" and "Hé là-bas !" which are reviewed just below.

If you want to check the opinion of someone who met Vincent and jammed with him you can go to the Harp-L archives : after having played with Vincent in Paris, Richard Hunter reported to Harp-L and if you search for 'Vincent Bucher' you should find his thread.

If you're interested enough to purchase the CD described below, you can find it on various French CD mail-order companies, the main ones being the FNAC and Alapage. Please note that I have no commercial interests in sales by Vincent or Tao and neither have I links to the FNAC or Alapage. This is just to point at a convenient way for people outside of France to acquire this CD.

Tao Ravao / Vincent Bucher - Tany Manga (Samarkand AL008)

The CD opens with an intrumental called 'Trois Rivières' (Three Rivers) which really sets from the start the unusual sound that Tao and Vincent have found. The harmonica starts way low, in a blues-like riff fashion, but the unusual time signature and the string instrument (a Kabosy, apparently) played by Tao along with the percussions give the whole thing a definite 'southern hemisphere' feel to it. From then on, the tracks are all accompanied by vocals in French, Malagasy or English. Interestingly enough, although this has little to do with blues musically, some little touches here and there remind the listener that these guys have invented a hybrid, and that what we're listening to is probably as strange to someone expecting traditional Malagasy music as it is to someone expecting blues. I'll mention one other track which really struck me, and that's Jimi Hendrix's 'Hear my train a 'comin'. I must admit I was expecting a fairly traditional blues here, since this is the only song I know of recorded by Jimi on acoustic but no ! The southern feel (and that's not Texas or California I'm talking about) is still there, and the rendition is as excellent as it is surprising.

Tao Ravao / Vincent Bucher - Hé là-bas !