Helen Gentile & Lewis Wood are an exciting duo who perform original and dynamic arrangements of European folk dance tunes on clarinet and violin. In December 2020, they released their debut album, Alors, On Danse! (So, let’s dance!).
Recorded during a livestream performance in October 2020, the album is unique in capturing a snapshot in time where live gigs are scarce and livestreams are the primary method of music consumption. Alors, On Danse! has a spontaneous feel, which is true to the nature of playing for dancing.
Helen says, “It’s fantastic to think of all the people dancing along to the music at home, even through lockdown. Playing with Lewis is an absolute joy and we are so happy to give people this taste of our experience of playing for dance.”
Helen and Lewis have ten years’ experience in the folk scene; Helen with acclaimed 8-piece Threepenny Bit and Lewis with Radio 2 Young Folk Award Nominees, Granny’s Attic. This duo displays a different side to their musical palettes, with loose ever-evolving arrangements creating space for improvisation and showcasing the interplay between clarinet and violin.
Each track on the album features a different dance from balfolk repertoire (balfolk being the collective name for European folk dance forms revived in the 1970s, predominantly in France, but now with a scene that spans the whole continent). The album celebrates the diversity of this incredibly rich dance canon, transporting the listener into the world of the Scottish, Waltz, Mazurka, French Bourrée, English Circassian Circle, Breton Hanter Dro and Swedish Slangpolska.
As well as traditional and original tunes, the album also features compositions from leading figures in the balfolk scene, such as Cyrille Brotto, Andy Cutting, Grégory Jolivet and Roger Tallroth.
Lewis said, “It’s very exciting to finally release an album with Helen. It feels like it’s been a long time coming. We really felt like highlighting the dance side on our stream, as it’s what we enjoy most, and social dance is going to be one of the last things to return. We thought it would be a good way to bring people together until such a time that we can all be in the same room as each other.”
Artists’ website: www.gentileandwood.wordpress.com
Two French bourees -live: