An amalgam created from the words “harmonious,” “harmonica” and “manouche.”
‘Jazz Manouche’ is French for Gypsy Jazz.
New Orleans Gypsy Trad Jazz band Harmonouche, is a three year-old quartet and new addition to the local music scene. Harmonouche is quickly experiencing strong interest amongst music lovers, dancers, newlyweds and the curious, for its fun, fresh and creative interpretations. Their music is loaded with charisma, world class musicianship and a good dose of humor. The band delivers 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 stand up bass (Tim Paco).
Their genuine and energizing performances are nourished by the chemistry of these four established musicians – with a mix of unusual influences, a variety of styles and musical backgrounds. From Jazz Manouche, Tzigane, Swing, Blues, French Musette, Latin and World Music to Traditional Jazz, Harmonouche finds its own energy and balance to provide an exciting musical experience.
Harmonouche’s philosophy and vocation is to reach out, share, and captivate an audience with melodious beautiful ballads or fast tempo numbers with fiery themes and improvisations. During performances, musical boundaries are pushed to explore innovative musical grounds – inviting the audience to enjoy, feel good and be inspired by the journey.
Harmonouche was originated by Raphaël Bas, a French guitarist who migrated to the U.S. some twenty years ago and moved to New Orleans permanently three months before Hurricane Katrina. He stayed to help rebuild his new beloved city and to pursue his musical career. Over the years, Raphaël studied and 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 brought 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. Raphael’s own interpretation of this genre performed on guitar and harmonica, in tandem, creates unique combinations and a rich mixture of sounds.
When Harmonouche was formed, Raphaël invited talented, established New Orleans musicians to join the group. Harmonouche has performed at French Quarter Festival, Satchmo Fest, the Christmas New Orleans Style concert series, WWL-TV’s morning show, as well as established weekly shows around town such as Three Muses on Frenchmen Street and Bacchanal in the Bywater, to name a few.
Chris Kohl (clarinet) is known for his virtuosity, 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 audiences and brings any song to the next level. A well-established and respected musician for many years, Chris is co-founder of the Hot Club of New Orleans.
Bart Ramsey (accordion, piano, vocals) is the newest addition to Harmonouche. He is no stranger to Raphaël’s repertoire and style, having worked together over the last eight years on numerous projects. From their first collaboration and contribution to 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 complicity and connivance. Besides being an exceptional seasoned musician, Bart is also a renowned songwriter and leads his own band, Zazou City.
Tim Paco (stand up bass, tuba, sousaphone and ukulele) is an active, multi-instrumentalist well known in the region for having played with exceptionally large numbers of significant local and national performers including Pete Fountain, Warren Batiste and Tim Laughlin to name a few. Tim’s experience and thorough musical knowledge brings a solid rhythm support. And when it comes to solos, Tim knows how to make his instrument “sing” with dexterity, intuition and exceptional flair. Tim recently co- founded his own Hawaiian band, ‘The Royal and Dumaine Hawaiians’.
Harmonouche’s first CD 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 is often played on local radio stations. It also caught the interest of the renowned record label Putumayo, who has included the song ‘Confessin’ on their 2013 compilation release “Vintage France”.
Harmonouche plans to record a new album for release in Fall 2013.
“In French it’s said, ‘il est très bon,’ in Americanese simply, ‘he’s VERY good.” -Jack Fine
“Raphaël Bas mixes European and New Orleans musical traditions, playing
guitar and harmonica, and ends up with an unique Gypsy Gumbo!” – John Rankin
“Gypsy guitar and blues harmonica – a nice combination that places Raphaël in a class of his own.” -Don Vappie
“Raphaël Bas is one of the most innovative and imaginative of New Orleans jazz artists and his new release Harmonouche is filled with his creative genius and joy.”
- Jelly Roll Justice, WWOZ New Orleans