Fun, fresh, and creative, Harmonouche plays music loaded with charisma and international flavor. The New Orleans Gypsy Trad Jazz Band combines world class musicianship and a good dose of humor to deliver a unique sound orchestrated with jazz guitar, diatonic harmonica, singing, whistling and lip trumpeting (Raphaël Bas), accordion and piano (Bart Ramsey), clarinet (Chris Kohl) and saxophone (Pascal Valcasara). Evoking Parisian cobblestoned back alleys, Spanish grottos, and gin joints in the Crescent City, Harmonouche’s smooth blend of world styles energizes audiences and harkens back to old world values in order to captivate and delight.
Harmonouche has performed at French Quarter Festival, Festival International, Jazz and Heritage Festival, Satchmo Festival, Saint Louis Cathedral’s Christmas New Orleans Style, WWL-TV morning show, as well as established weekly shows around town such as Three Muses on Frenchmen Street, Bacchanal in the Bywater and elsewhere.
Harmonouche’s first CD Harmonouche was released in early 2011 and was partially funded by the Louisiana Economy and Cultural Foundation. Described by OffBeat Magazine as “an enjoyable bit of ensemble jazz from some fine New Orleans musicians,“ this album receives frequent radio play and caught the interest of the renowned record label Putumayo, who included the song ‘Confessin’ on their 2013 compilation release Vintage France.
Harmonouche's second CD Joli Songe was released in Fall 2013. A mix of original (including Jolie Mademoiselle, Crawfish Blues) and a few re-arranged cover songs ("L' immense Sahara" the 1920s French version known in English as "The Sheik Of Araby"). The album received acclaim from audiences and reviewers alike.
The band’s third album, NolAmour, will be released late 2016.
Harmonouche was originated by Raphaël Bas, a French guitarist and harmonica player who migrated to the U.S. some twenty years ago and moved to New Orleans permanently in 2005, three months before Hurricane Katrina. He stayed to help rebuild his new beloved city and to pursue his musical career. Raphaël developed unique techniques, combining guitar and diatonic harmonica on the rack, giving this popular - yet not so well known instrument - its full entity amongst more traditional instruments in Jazz ensembles. The result brings the ‘ten hole harp’ into that style, and away from straight Blues and Pop.
Growing up in France, Raphaël was largely exposed and influenced by master guitarist Django Reinhardt and Jazz Manouche music in general. Raphaël’s own interpretation of this genre performed on guitar and harmonica, in tandem, creates unique combinations and a rich mixture of sounds.
Chris Kohl (clarinet) is known for his virtuosity, his trademark sound and versatility, as well as his understanding and interpretations of all sorts of music. His creative aptitude and sensitive musical approach brings the band a surprising lift. His tasteful, spontaneous and fiery improvisation captivates an audience and brings any song to the next level. A well-established and respected musician for many years, Chris is also co-founder of the Hot Club of New Orleans.
Bart Ramsey (accordion, piano, vocals) is no stranger to Raphaël’s repertoire and style having worked together since 2005 on numerous projects. From their first collaboration and contribution of a fundraising CD (“From the Lone Star to the Gulf Coast”, Rabadash Records, 2005) to help local musicians who were victims of Katrina rebuild their lives, to the co-founding of the award-winning New Orleans band Vavavoom, Bart and Raphaël share an intimate musical alliance. Besides being an exceptional seasoned musician, Bart is also a renowned songwriter and leads his own band, Zazou City.
Pascal Valcasara, also a Frenchmen established in New Orleans for many years, is a very talented multi instrumentalist (Saxophone, Piano, Melodica, Cajon and vocalist). His musical knowledge and accomplished skills are doubled with an explosive energy and passion to push the music always further.
Other musicians who have shared their contributions and talents:
- Norbert Slama (accordion)
- Tim Paco (stand up bass)
- Nathan Lambertson (stand up bass)
- Gwendolyn Coleman (percussions)
- Jon Gross (sousaphone)
- Kirk Joseph (sousaphone)
- Belinda Moody (stand up bass)
- Barnaby Gold (drums)
- Claude Arthur (bass)
- Matt Schreiber (accordion)