I had never heard of the txalaparta before my first visit to Euskadi in 1991, even though I was semi-active in Basque dancing and attended many festivals in the US. In fact, I only learned about it once a friend of mine, Mikel Lopategi, who was also in Euskadi at the same time, had learned about it and was trying to build his own. What little I had heard fascinated me. I thought the music was great and the concept even better. But, even my dad, having grown up in Munitibar, had never heard about it.
I went back in 1996 and visited a music store in Bilbao, asking for a compilcation or anything of txalaparta music. Even then, the person working there couldn’t find anything. Txalaparta was something old, maybe ancient, but which was still so new that no one knew anything about it.
That has changed in more recent years. A number of popular Basque musicians, such as Kepa Junkera, have incorporated txalaparta in their music. Even more impressive, there are now professional txalaparta duos who have released their own music. When I was in Seattle, we had the honor of hosting the Ugarte Anaiak, a brother duo who pushed the boundaries of the txalaparta by using stone and metal in addition to the traditional wood to make their sounds.
Maybe one of the most well known efforts is Oreka Tx. They are featured in an article appearing on Spinner. The article includes some samples of their music and discusses their most recent project, Nomadik Tx, their effort to bring Basque music and the txalaparta to other parts of the world. Well worth a read!
By the way, here is a video of Ugarte Anaiak, from YouTube. I couldn’t find a website for them in particular. Does anyone know of one?