Almirantearena Family

The Almirantearena siblings, Martin, Jeannette and Josef, are a Basque-American family from Chino, California, who have learned to play various instruments. Jeannette plays piano accordion and Josef plays the drums. Their father is from Zuberoa and their mother is from Behe-Nafarroa, Iparralde.

Martin Almirantearena plays tamborra and txistu and he plays the clarion (bugle) for the Southern California Klika. He also learned the basics of playing the gaita and how to play the saxophone. Martin was primarily influenced by his parents who encouraged him and his sister, Jeanette, to play music.

Around 1995, Martin started playing music because there was a need for a txistu player to accompany the Gauden Bat dance group.  He purchased his first txistu through NABO (North American Basque Organizations) and he obtained his second txistu when Josef Almirantearena, his father, came back with one of these instruments from Xuberoa. Before stepping forward to be a musician for the dance group, Martin was a dancer for Gauden Bat. He played with his sister, Jeanette Almirantearena Duhart, and at the same time with Denise Duhart. Martin still plays for the Gauden Bat group and for the Txori ttipiak, the younger group of dancers in Chino.

Martin and Jeanette used to play for the Chino Basque club for entrainment for dances and they still play once a year.

Martin is a self-taught txistu player, but in summer culture camps, or udalekus, he received advice from teachers who came from the Basque Country. He has also participated as an instructor in some udalekus since 1996 (this one was held in Boise, Idaho) through the encouragement of Aita Tillous, the past Chaplain of the Basques in the US, who was also a txistulari and txistu instructor for the culture camps. 

Martin says that the real reason he kept playing txistu all these years was to act as a musician for the  dance group and that is why he is still the txistulari for the Gauden Bat Dancers. 

Jeannette played for various Chino dance groups and for many public dances, and also played with the Mendiko Haurrak Orchestra along with Martin and Josef.

Source: Interview to Martin Almirantearena by Eneko Tuduri on 8.30.2016.


Photos from the documentary, by the Chino Basque Club. Special thanks to Steve Gamboa and Marianna Etcheverria.

Audio Recording: 
Jeannete (accordion) and Josef (drums) Almirantearena, 1994 NABO Accordion Festival. Recording provided by Jean Flesher.