Alain Genty is a well known musician of the Breton music circuit. He has played a role in many of the most important Breton bands of the last decade including Gwerz, Barzaz and Den. His bass playing and of course arranging has its own part in the Breton scene.
Alain made his way into the Breton music scene from a different background. He was born in Champagne " this so beautiful drink". He went to live in Brittany in the eighties where he lived for several years and discovered everything about Breton music. Before that he was playing just rock music and other things "I always liked the meeting between different influences. My background is groups like Frank Zappa, Yes, Genesis, all that time ago. This is one part of my background." Today Alain lives in Paris, for various reasons. "I live in Paris, but I always play in Brittany - itís my home."
Altough it is quite unusual for a bassist to lead a folk band , it is natural for Alain Genty to be the leader of the Alain Genty Band. "Yes, of course, itís very unusual. Basically I am the composer and arranger of everything in the band, so thatís why itís my band. In fact I am playing together with the other people in the group for a long time. Before this group, we made during the Eighties different groups in Brittany, with the brothers Jacky and Patrick Molard and Jean Michel Veillon. There was a group called Den, we four of the this group were in that group before. And in fact, in the repertoire of the Alain Genty Band there are several pieces from Den. I met with the drummer three years ago, and with Tony McManus itís also two years ago."
When Alain made his own project, it was his aim to mix the influences from the seventies and Breton traditional music. The aim was to mix this type of tribal rhythmic and traditional instruments.
It comes for Alain natural to compose traditional Breton music. "I have a great feeling for that, for me it is just natural to write that. I donít think I want to write some traditional music, itís just like that. Great affinity you know. And in fact in the Eighties when I went to Brittany, I had a great chance to meet directly Jean Michel Veillon and Jacky and Patrick Molard and we made directly this band, Den, and then Gwerz, I played with that band, with Patrick and Jacky and the singer Erik Marchand. For me Pop, Jazz, rock influences and these influences are just mixing together."
Alain describes the music he plays with his band as " Itís Breton music and has Scottish influences - it's Breton Music of today." The Alain Genty Band doesn't have problems to be accepted, because most of the musicians are well known from older well established Breton bands like Den, Barzaz and Gwerz. Although the Alain Genty Band is different from the others "because itís really a stronger, tribal thing."
The strong connections to Scottish music comes through Scottish guitar maestro Tony McManus. "We met Tony two years ago; there was a project called West Wind in France. It was the meeting of six Breton musicians, and six musicians from Ireland - five plus Tony coming from Scotland." The next thing was a showcase at the Celtic Connections Festival Tony McManus and Friends with Malcolm Stitt (Deaf Shepherd) on the bouzouki, Patrick & Jacky Molard, Alain and Ishbel MacAskill. "So it was our first mixing of the Scottish mafia and the breton mafia. And it was a great time." A year later Tony called Alain to produce his album "Pourquoi Quťbec", and the two went together to Canada for that.
It is a quite strong connection between Tony McManus and the Alain Genty. And both influences the other strongly. Scottish traditional music plays a bigger role in the repertoire of the Alain Genty Band. There are some haunting Gaelic tunes played with much passion.
The Alain Genty Band is a very powerful band, we have seen them on Celtic Connections Festival 1999 - there was the 'normal' line-up with Alain Genty (bass) Jacky and Patrick Molard (fiddle and bagpipes), Jean-Michel Veillion (flute), Patrick Boileau (drums) and for Scotland Tony McManus (guitar) and a small Breton pipe band. It is a very big sound!
Photo Credit: All photos by The Mollis.
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