Jimmy Breaux is acknowledged to be one of the best Cajun accordionists of the modern era. The accordion player for the Grammy Award-winning group Beausoleil, Breaux is another Louisiana performer who comes from a musical dynasty.
Breaux is in the fourth generation of his family to play Cajun music. Among his musical relatives are his father Preston Breaux, grandfather Amédé Breaux, his brother Pat Breaux, his great grandfather Auguste Breaux, and his great-aunt Cleoma Breaux. The latter was married to Joe Falcon, one of the great Cajun musicians of the 1930s. Together, the couple led the way for the Cajun musicians of today, like their great-nephew. Even when Breaux, who was born in 1967, was coming up, the Cajun people in Louisiana were still being put down for their culture and punished for speaking French. It was the legendary fiddler Dewey Balfa who first captured the attention and acceptance of mainstream America. And it was the popular group Beausoleil, which Jimmy Breaux joined at the age of 20 in 1988, that really spread the gospel of Cajun to the world. The title of one of their CDs, Cajunization, says it all.
With his button accordion, Jimmy Breaux is a standout in the band. While his persona is very low-key, his playing is hot. The only parts of his body that seem to move are his fingers and they go at lightning speed. His bandleader, renowned fiddler Michael Doucet, cannot say enough good things about his main man on the squeezebox. The group's CD, Looking Back Tomorrow Beausoleil Live, released in 2001, showcases the talents of Breaux at his best. He makes it all sound so effortless and yet his music is complex and innovative, while still holding to the traditions of his cultural heritage.
His first solo effort, Un 'Tit Peu Plus Cajun, was recorded in 1991 and features Beausoleil colleagues Michael Doucet and his brother David Doucet. The recording is mainly a collection of traditional tunes, such as "Creole Stomp" and "La Valse de Meche," with several cuts by musicians of more recent vintage. The common denominator is that all songs are meant for dancing.
Breaux's second release, Le Chemin Que T'as Pris, received much critical acclaim. It was chosen as the best album of 1997 by the prestigious Le Cajun Music Awards. The record, which is dedicated to Breaux's parents, contains both traditional material and new songs. The title cut, which translates into "The Road You Took," was written by Jimmy Breaux's father. The accordionist receives a musical assist from artists including Steve Riley, David Doucet, and Breaux's stepfather U.J. Meaux. Whether fronting his own band or in his place on the stage with Beausoleil, listeners can be assured that Jimmy Breaux will be putting out some great music. ~ Rose of Sharon Witmer