The musical trio Kalakan, which means chatting in Euskara, emanate from the French Basque Country and specialise in both traditional and modern interpretations of Basque music. The three members, Thierry Biscary Ttirritt, Jamixel Bereau and Xan Errotabehere got together in 2009 to develop an interesting twist on conventional Basque music, often singing a capella and using sparse instrumentation, chiefly drums, pandereta (a large tambourine) and txalaparta (a traditional Basque instrument involving hitting small wooden batons on wooden planks placed on trellises to create a very atmospheric, echo-like effect).
The story goes that she was at the sisters’ house to celebrate her 53rd birthday on 16th August and that very night the band performed their version of Ravel’s Bolero – at the house. Being duly impressed, Madonna then invited them to take part in her upcoming MDNA Tour.
On tour, Kalakan performed Gregorian chants, sang backing vocals and played their usual instruments, with perhaps their most curious participation being during Open Your Heart, which includes a sequence in which Madonna actually sings a little bit of the popular song Sagarra jo! in Euskara – not bad for 3 guys from the rural French Basque Country! By the way, they continue touring as a trio and gave a fine concert in San Sebastián’s Kursaal Auditorium in early April 2012.