MICHAEL DOUCET and his superb Cajun band, Beausoleil, have discovered that the best way to sustain musical tradition is to skillfully embroider the past with contemporary touches. Beausoleil's new album, "Parlez-Nous a Boire," reveals this highly regarded band as both traditionalist and modernist.

Doucet, who is a folklorist as well as a fiddler and singer, revives a host of classic Cajun tunes from the '20s and '30s and, in the case of "Chanson d'Acadie," has even dug up a beautiful medieval song. However, new words are often added to these oldtime jigs, reels and waltzes, and drums bolster the traditional triangle, reinforcing the fact that all the expert playing and musicology here are in service of the music's primary function -- to make people dance.

The most innovative element in Beausoleil's acoustic music is Doucet's brilliant fiddle play, which draws on the styles of Cajun masters like Dewey Balfa and Leo Soileau but extends them with an improvisatory flair that suggests a jazz man. Doucet draws on blues, jazz and rock sources, and his playing is so fluidly assured that even his wildest solos are seamlessly bound to the songs.

MICHAEL DOUCET & BEAUSOLEIL -- "Parlez-Nous a Boire" (Arhoolie 5034); appearing Saturday night at Friendship Station. Beausoleil: Cajun Sunshine By Joe Sasfy

MICHAEL DOUCET and his superb Cajun band, Beausoleil, have discovered that the best way to sustain musical tradition is to skillfully embroider the past with contemporary touches. Beausoleil's new album, "Parlez-Nous a Boire," reveals this highly regarded band as both traditionalist and modernist.

Doucet, who is a folklorist as well as a fiddler and singer, revives a host of classic Cajun tunes from the '20s and '30s and, in the case of "Chanson d'Acadie," has even dug up a beautiful medieval song. However, new words are often added to these oldtime jigs, reels and waltzes, and drums bolster the traditional triangle, reinforcing the fact that all the expert playing and musicology here are in service of the music's primary function -- to make people dance.

The most innovative element in Beausoleil's acoustic music is Doucet's brilliant fiddle play, which draws on the styles of Cajun masters like Dewey Balfa and Leo Soileau but extends them with an improvisatory flair that suggests a jazz man. Doucet draws on blues, jazz and rock sources, and his playing is so fluidly assured that even his wildest solos are seamlessly bound to the songs.

MICHAEL DOUCET & BEAUSOLEIL -- "Parlez-Nous a Boire" (Arhoolie 5034); appearing Saturday night at Friendship Station.