The origin of the enigma was in Barcelona, in the In-Edit Festival of musical documentaries: in the 2011 and 2013 editions, respectively, Fermin had met the film-makers Aaron Walker – author of “Bury the Hatchet” dedicated to the Indians of Mardi Gras – and Lily Keber, responsible for “Bayou Maharajah. The Tragic Genius of James Booker” (2013), about the legendary pianist, and from both of them he travelled to Louisiana in 2014. He was interviewed on WWOZ by George Ingmire, met some musicians and even played at a bar on Frenchmen Street accompanied by local instrumentalists.From this experience came the project to make a record in The Big Easy, “Irun Meets New Orleans” - wink to his “Irun meets Bristol.
Jonathan Freilich, producer, arranger and guitarist on “Irun Meets New Orleans”, leader of the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars and The Naked Orchestra and with a résumé that includes collaborations with Galactic, Robbie Robertson, Johnny Adams, Kermit Ruffins and The Wild Magnolias, organized two groups: a brass band capable of playing Fermin's songs, and a more flexible formation of Rhythm and Blues that could combine the Ska and Punk sentiments with the New Orleans sound.
The list of invited musicians is impresssive: the historic Preservation Hall Jazz Band led by Ben Jaffe, the Zydeco accordionist Sunpie Barnes (leader of The Louisiana Sunspots), the first queer bounce rapper Katey Red, the vocalist Erica Falls (Galactic, Dr. John), the percussionist Derrick “Oops” Moss (co-founder of The Soul Rebels), the sax player Dan Oestreicher (de Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue), the cellist Helen Gillet (Luke Winslow-King, Dr. John), the bass player James Singleton (a member of Astral Project and collaborator of de Johnny Adams, Coco Robicheaux, Stanton Moore, Jon Cleary and Irma Thomas), the trumpet player Antonio Gambrell (ex All That), the drummer Doug Belote (Anders Osborne, Sonny Landreth, Dr. John, Cyril Neville, Jon Cleary, Rickie Lee Jones), the pianist and organist Brian Coogan (The Iguanas, Bonerama, Stanton Moore), the trumpet player Scott Frock (Delfeayo Marsalis, Marcia Ball, Gladys Knight), the trombonist Rick Trolsen (ex-Bonerama and present on albums of Luke Winslow-King, Sonny Landreth, Theresa Andersson y Snooks Eaglin) and he saxophonist Rex Gregory (Irvin Mayfield, Dr. John), among others.
A special mention is for the sound engineer Mark Bingham. A part from being a founder of the Piety Street studios where “Irun Meets New Orleans” was recorded, he has produced John Scofield, Glenn Branca and Rebirth Brass Band, he has participated in various tribute albums coordinated by his lifelong friend Hal Wilner and collaborated on “The Lion for Real” (1989) by Allen Ginsberg.
If we think about it closely, Muguruza is an artist with an unpredictable career, of continuous changes, for which this new movement isn't unusual at all. Also, in his multiple projects he has always merged tradition – with the use of the accordion or “irrintziak” songs, for example – with modernity and he has frequented the most various musical styles. And which is the place where they better understand and live this mix of flavours, or what the natives call gumbo, in honour of this appetizing place of Creole gastronomy? New Orleans, of course.