Meet the Band
Guitarist and harmonica player Raphaël Bas has been composing and performing music since junior high school. He grew up in Bourges, France where over the years he was exposed to a wide variety of music and artistic styles performed by world class musicians at the renowned Printemps de Bourges music festival. This is in fact where Raphaël first performed on an international stage at the age of 15.
Raphaël currently lives and works in New Orleans where he pursues his musical vocation, playing French gypsy swing while incorporating the sound of New Orleans trad jazz into his repertoire. Raphael performs under his own name and with his band, Harmonouche.
His major musical influences are Django Reinhardt, Manitas De Plata and Paco De Lucia, but he has also been influenced by Gus Viseur's and Jo Privat's Swing and Musette styles. These influences are heard in his music, particularly in the intricately interwoven guitar parts he plays. Regardless of whether he is playing solo or backing other band members, Raphaël does not just follow the more traditional approach of playing block chords behind the soloist, he stands out by offering a genuinely creative performance.
Since immigrating to the United States over two decades ago, Raphael has played many genres including Blues, Flamenco, Funk, Reggae, and various types of Jazz. In his early years in Houston he backed former Big Brother and the Holding Company guitarist Sam Andrew.
He has performed internationally as a single act, as a duo, and with full ensembles across Australia, in the UK where he resided for over two years, France and across the US.
He co-founded and performed with the award winning band Vavavoom which emerged from returning musicians after Hurricane Katrina eager to help bring back the vibrant life and sound of the Big Easy. During his tenure with Vavavoom they recorded two successful CDs, one of which was voted one of the best albums of the decade by the famous New Orleans based radio station WWOZ 90.7 FM.
Harmonouche was originated by Raphaël Bas in 2010 and includes long time members Chris Kohl on clarinet, Nathan Lambertson on stand up bass—both of them known for their virtuosity, trademarked sound and versatility—as well as Pascal Valcasara a talented multi-instrumentalist playing saxophone, piano, melodica and cajon. Frequent contributor, Bart Ramsey, an exceptional seasoned musician, accompanies the band on accordion and piano.
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 most major music festivals in the region including French Quarter Fest, Jazz Fest, Satchmo Fest, Voodoo Fest and Festival International de Lafayette.
Harmonouche's last recording project was their third CD, NolAmour. The CD highlights the jazz diatonic harmonica, played on the rack along with the jazz guitar. In combination with the guitar and harmonica are more traditional instruments performed by, among others, New Orleans musicians: Chris Kohl on clarinet, Pasqual Valcasara on saxaphone and Bart Ramsey on piano and accordion.