8 Apr 2021

USA

Absolutely seminal. A thourough 26-song survey of rare recordings from the 1920s and 1930s by this legendary black cajun singer & accordionist.

Proto-cajun-zydeco
'Monsieur Ardoin played a mean accordion, but his haunting vocals are just as astonishing. This music is for the ages. Even though I hardly understand a word of standard French - let alone the cajun version sung here - the music speaks to me. Anyone who wants to have a perspective on African-American music needs to hear this stuff.' -T. Bekken

'The more or less complete recorded works (between 1929-’34) of the singer/accordionist who’s generally conceded to be the father of Zydeco. Ardoin, along with his frequent partner, Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee, was certainly among the first to fuse the older French folk tradition with American country blues, and many of the songs captured here eventually made their way into the electrified modern Zydeco pioneered by Clifton Chenier. The sound here is surprisingly good, with far less surface noise than you’d expect from 78s recorded under primitive circumstances. Amede Ardoin, the Pioneer of Louisiana French Blues… Released in November 1995, 26 tracks.'

“Cajun and Zarico music would not be what it is today without Amédé Ardoin and his musical recordings of the late 1920s and early 30s. His fortés include his uniquely eloquent lyrics his resonating voice and his driving accordion virtuosity. The equanimity in which this slight black French-speaker composed performed and recorded his songs attests to the high regard held by those who knew him. Amédé lived the blues and injected his spirit into our music. Without him we would not have the dozen or so songs Iry Lejeune interpreted and recorded in the 1950s that helped to bring about a resurgence of Cajun French pride. We would not have Austin Pitre’s soulful interpretation of “Opelousas 2-Step” nor his version of Amédé’s emotional “Le blues de la prison.” How can we dismiss Dewey Balfa’s version of “Je suis orphelin” or his brother Will’s haunting “Les blues du cadien”?” (from the introduction by Michael Doucet)

“The name most mentioned by respected Cajun musicians when asked for the most influential of all south Louisiana French musicians is Amede Ardoin. Ardoin who died more than 40 years ago was a black Creole French-speaking accordion player who single-handedly created the modern Cajun style. The three-dozen songs he recorded in New Orleans San Antonio and New York City (mostly accompanied by Cajun fiddler Dennis McGee) were hugely popular when they were released in the Twenties. Ardoin himself was a sought-after dance musician who played both white Cajun gatherings and black La-la dances and was known for his ability to improvise Iyrics about those in attendance a practice which sometimes got him in trouble. These re-mastered classics demonstrate Ardoin’s power as a musician and a singer. He played in a rhythm-heavy syncopated style and sang with a passion unmatched even to this day in Cajun and Creole song. This is a collection that no fan of Cajun or Zydeco music should be without. It provides an important historical perspective but more to the point it preserves the performance of a true artist who served as a direct link between old-time-Creole and Cajun music and the music of a culture which is still being played today.” -Ed McKeon

'In his relatively short career, the acknowledged progenitor of Cajun and zydeco music, Amédé Ardoin, recorded only 31 songs, spread across four sessions around 1930. Of those, 26 are presented here, from all of the sessions except the first. The sound shows itself largely as what is now called "Cajun," with only hints of what would later be turned into zydeco. The accordion is jumping with energy in the dance numbers (here's where you might notice the similarities to zydeco), and toned down for the blues. Regardless of the style, Ardoin's French vocals fly out loudly and plaintively over the top of the music. The combination of accordion and vocals is what defines his music, and it does a good job of creating a texture of emotion and music together. Additional fiddling by Dennis McGee (making these the first interracial recordings of Louisiana folk music) adds to the pot in a favorable manner. While the recording quality can occasionally be less than perfect (these were recorded between 1929-1934, after all), the historical and musical value of the songs easily make up for it. For fanatics in the fields of Louisiana's folk musics, this album makes a great item to add to the collection for a look into the past. For those just starting out in the fields, more contemporary artists might make for a smoother introduction, but they'll all point back to Ardoin eventually.' -AllMusic Review by Adam Greenberg

Amédé Ardoin (left) & Dennis McGee (right)


Amédé Ardoin – vocals & accordion.
#1-10: with Dennis McGee – fiddle; New Orleans – November 19 & 20 1930.
#11-14: with Dennis McGee – fiddle; San Antonio – August 8 1934.
#15-26: New York City – December 22 1934.

New Orleans - 1930
1. Amadie Two Step 3:03
2. La Valse A Austin Ardoin 2:54
3. Blues De Basile 3:06
4. La Valse A Thomas Ardoin 3:04
5. Two Step D'Elton 2:59
6. La Valse De Gueydan 3:01
7. Valse A Alice Poulard 2:54
8. One Step D'Oberlin 2:51
9. Valse De Opelousas 2:54
10. One Step Des Chameaux 2:51
San Antonio - 1934
11. Les Blues De Voyage 2:58
12. La Valse De Amities 2:49
13. Les Blues De Crowley 2:38
14. Oberlin 3:04
New York City - 1934
15. Tostape De Jennings 3:08
16. Le Midland Two Step 3:11
17. La Valse Des Chantiers Petroliperes 3:07
18. Valse Brunette 3:21
19. Tortope D'Osrun 3:12
20. La Valse Du Ballard 3:21
21. La Turtape De Saroied 3:06
22. Valse De La Pointe D'Eglise 3:05
23. Les Blues De La Prison 3:11
24. Valse De Mon Vieux Village 3:11
25. Si Dur D'Etre Seul 3:09
26. Aimez-Moi Ce Soir 3:03

Notes
Incl. Pdf