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Cajun's Greatest; The Definitive Collection, CD (£11.50)
The music of lry LeJeune is some of the most well-loved and legendary in the history of Cajun Music. One of the most popular of post war Bayou artists he was born on his father's farm on the outskirts of Church Point, Louisiana, on October 28th, 1928. With a musical family around him, he began playing accordion at a young age, aided through the basic stages by his father Agnes LeJeune. Nearly blind, the young lry found music his main enjoyment in life and, as he grew older, it became his living too. His major influence was the Black Cajun great Amede Ardoin from whom lry picked up his crying style of singing and his gritty basic accordion sound, to which lry added speed and more complicated licks than Amede.Though well-known at local dances his music failed to reach a wider regional audience in the '40s, The audience taste at that time had succumbed to the popularity and influence of cowboy and western swing styles and Cajun Music had followed their trend towards fiddle-led outfits. String bands led by stars like Harry Choates and Leo Soileau were in heavy demand and, though lry tried his hand at the fiddle, he finally, decided to stick with what he knew best. He moved to Lacassine, near Lake Charles, and began to sit in with bigger aggregations and in 1948, Floyd LeBlanc took him to Houston where he recorded for the Opera label with Virgil Bozman's Oklahoma Tornadoes. His recording of Love Bridge Waltz became a big hit and turned Cajun Music around. For the first time in a decade, the accordion wailed out from jukeboxes in Louisiana.After six months playing the bars and dance halls of Houston, lry returned to Lake Charles and a recording contract with Eddie Shuler. Eddie recorded lry for the Folk Star, TNT and Goldband labels and hit with the Calcasieu Waltz and Teche Special. Surrounded by musicians like Duckhead Cormier, Wilson Granger, Robert Bertrand and even Eddie Shuler himself sometimes, lry played the Louisiana clubs, recording at local radio stations, studios and even on portable equipment set up in a kitchen. From the latter source, came Duraldo Waltz, the only one of his recordings on which there is no accordion. On October 5th 1955, on the way home from a Eunice gig with J Fusilier, the pair were repairing a flat tyre on the highway when a passing car knocked them into a field, seriously injuring J B and killing lry instantly. For years, most fans have had the chance to hear lry's music only via poor sounding releases, often with distracting over-dubbed bass-guitar. Now, with the arrival of Cajun's Greatest -The Definitive Collection, these great sounds can be heard in excellent sound quality. Near mint copies of most of these 78s have been located through collectors like Chris Strachwitz and transfers from these have been worked on with love and care by Duncan Cowell of Sound Mastering to produce a fine tribute to a true Cajun master. The three songs mentioned in the text above are on this definitive collection plus Grande Bosco, Church Point Breakdown, Evangeline Special and 19 other great slices of the sound of the south.The package is completed by notes from leading Cajun authority Ann Alien Savoy who was in the UK earlier this month with the Savoy-Doucet Band.