As a great admirer of Wannes Van de Velde, the man who wove rebetiko and flamenco into Flemish folk singing, Tristan Driessens mixes a variety of eastern influences in the world of Western European folk music. Long before the Belgian oud player would be introduced in the secrets of classical Ottoman music, he was widely known as a talented folk dancer.
Together with hardanger violinist Wim Baeck, he formed the core of Balacordes, a band which expressed their mutual passion for Swedisch polska, Irish jig and other folk traditions. In his recent recordings, mainly Tristan’s inspiration from the Turkish masters resonated, whereas with A Folk Dancer’s Journey he returns to his first passion: A French circle dance mixes with a dazzling lezginka from Azerbeidzjan (Caucasian Eagle dance), a mazurka goes over in an irregular rhythmical pattern on the heavenly sounds of the Turkish kemençe (Alethea’s First Song) and tin-whistle tones float on the gnawa grooves of a Jewish Moroccan song (Mandragora’s Jig).
This album presents an almost perfect synthesis of the musical routes Driessens has been exploring over the past years, as it features an impressive cast of musicians with whom he has been collaborating: the Turkish kemençe master Derva Türkan (Lâmekân Ensemble), French hurdy gurdy virtuoso Gregory Jolivet, Bulgarian tapan player Niki Aleksandrov (Karsilama Quintet), Armenian duduk player Vardan Hovanissian, Belgian Woodwind Wizard Tom Callens (Soolmaan, La Compagnie d’Elias), Belgian early music expert Jowan Merckx (AmorromA) and many others. A Folk Dancer’s Journey paints the picture of a restless nomad who, accompanied by his faithful lute, has reached a crucial stage on his way between East and West.