Raphael Bas

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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, clarinet, saxophone and other instruments. Evoking Parisian cobblestoned back alleys and neighborhood joints in the Crescent City, Harmonouche’s smooth blend of world styles energizes audiences and harkens back to old world times.

Harmonouche’s repertoire includes a variety of melodious ballads and fast tempo numbers with fiery themes and improvisations through a mélange of original and re-arranged songs from jazz manouche, swing, Parisian waltzes, French musette, blues and traditional jazz. Musical boundaries are pushed to explore innovative grounds – mixing the old and the new – inviting the audience to enjoy and be inspired by the journey.

Harmonouche has performed at French Quarter Festival, Lafayette 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 and Bacchanal in the Bywater.

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 received 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 of "The Sheik Of Araby"). The album received acclaim from audiences and reviewers alike.

The band’s third album, NolAmour, was released in late 2016. A collection of original, French gypsy swing and early American traditional jazz songs. Positively reviewed by Brett Milano of Offbeat: "…what grabs me most about this CD is the way Raphael Bas sings: Voicing in heavily accented French, he sounds like a likeably roguish character, and evinces a joie de vivre that’s the perfect fit for the band’s music".

Harmonouche was originated by Raphaël Bas in 2011, a French guitarist, harmonica player and vocalist who migrated to the U.S. in 1992 and moved to New Orleans permanently in 2005. Raphaël has developed unique techniques, combining guitar and diatonic harmonica on the rack, giving this popular instrument its full entity amongst more traditional instruments in jazz ensembles.

Growing up in France, Raphaël was largely exposed and influenced by master guitarist Django Reinhardt and jazz manouche in general. Raphaël’s own interpretations performed on guitar and harmonica, in tandem, transcend the genre creating a singularly unique sound.

Chris Kohl (clarinet) is known for his virtuosity, his trademark sound and passionate solos. His creative aptitude and sensitive musical approach brings the band a surprising lift. A well-established and respected musician, Chris is also co-founder of the Hot Club of New Orleans.

Pascal Valcasara, also from France, is a talented multi instrumentalist playing saxophone, piano, melodica and cajon. Pascal is an accomplished musician with an explosive energy and drive to push the music always further.

Other musicians who have shared their contributions and talents:

  • Bart Ramsey (accordion, piano)
  • Norbert Slama (accordion)
  • Matt Schreiber (accordion)
  • Tim Paco (stand up bass)
  • Nathan Lambertson (stand up bass)
  • Belinda Moody (stand up bass)
  • Claude Arthur (bass)
  • Barnaby Gold (drums)
  • Gwendolyn Coleman (percussions)
  • Jon Gross (sousaphone)
  • Kirk Joseph (sousaphone)