Accordion Three-Fer: Angelo Debarre/Ludovic Beier: Lola de Valence; Richard Galliano
Angelo DeBarre/Ludovic Beier
Lola de Valance
The accordion has certainly taken a wondrous musical journeyfrom ethnic instrument to the definition of cheesy and then back to the creative realm of world music. But to close listeners, it always had an expressive and unique sound that lent itself to smart jazz improvisation. Thanks to the brilliant compositions and playing of Astor Piazzolla, the instrument has carved a solid place in musical invention. Here are three new albums in which the instrument makes joyous and vital music.
Paroles de Swing finds its groove in the world created by Django Reinhardt. It's modern gypsy swing set in France and is marvelously relaxed and ever pleasing. Accordionist Ludovic Beier co-leads the group with guitarist Angelo Debarre and both contribute originals as well as redo some of the gems from the French swing songbook. For a full demonstration into what this group can do, check out the "Medley sans Paroles"; there's music by Charles Aznavour, Leiber and Stoller, Francis Lai and more. In something less than four minutes, the two leaders, buoyed by bass, rhythm guitar and violin, give a seminar in music with no showboating but dazzling virtuosity just the same. On two tracks the group is joined by a fast-singing Stéphane Sansévérino who knows how to combine frenetic and relaxed into a lovely whole.
Lola de Valence is not a sultry torch singer but the name of a quartet which was formed in an area around Lausanne, Switzerland by four musicians: drummer Ivan Gaillard (who wrote all the tunes on Eaux Troublés), guitarist Claude Schneider, bassist André Hahne and bandoneonist Alain Ray. They negotiate through the "troubled waters" of the title, utilizing textures that suggest both roots and modern directions. Gaillard's compositions find inspiration in tango, in northern African music, flamenco and, certainly, jazz. Ray's fluid bandoneon lines complement the sound of the other instruments and though they all take the spotlight, they clearly work together for a group approach. On the title track, Hahne takes a darkly beautiful bass solo that follows the mysterious changes yet moves ever forward. These are listening musicians who emerge from the places in the world to give us sounds that we somehow both know and don't.
Richard Galliano is perhaps the best known of the accordionists/bandoneonists here, having made a series of successful albums for the Dreyfus label. If You Love Me is a melodic and emotional jazz outing, complemented by the always musical Gary Burton on vibes and jazz stalwarts George Mraz (bass) and Clarence Penn (drums) forming the rhythm section. This is romantic music of the highest order, composed by such diverse artists as Bill Evans, Edith Piaf, Piazzolla and JS Bach. Galliano calls this a "hymne é l'amour" and every tune seems to smolder quietly with true passion. Galliano is a virtuoso who can send out a burning flurry of notes but here he sacrifices that for something more elementally communicative; hear how he and Burton gently transform the Bach piece into something intensely passionate but never overheated. In some sense the group plays with the 'classical' eloquence of the Modern Jazz Quartet and, like that group, never loses the essence of jazz.
Tracks and Personnel
Paroles de Swing
Tracks: Paroles de Swing; Toi le Manouche; Paris je t'aime d'amour; Le danseur de Charleston; Sous le ciel de Paris; Syracuse; C'est Magnifique; Que reste-t-il de nos amours; C'est si Bon; La Mer; J'attendrai; Medley sans Paroles; Le Musicien; Le Poinconneur des Lilas.
Personnel: Angelo Debarre: guitar; Ludovic Beier: accordion; Antonio Licusatti: bass; Tchavolo Hassan: rhythm guitar; Marius Apostol: violin.
Tracks: Un Dimanche Tranquille; Eaux Troubles; Le Doudou de Neo; Highway; 15 Moon; Shems; Sur La Place; Singing Bass; Valencia; Sinouhe.
Personnel: Claude Schneider: acoustic guitar; Alain Ray: bandoneon; Andre Hahne: bass; Ivan Gaillard: drums, percussion.
If You Love Me (L'Hymne à L'Amour)
Tracks: Milonga is Coming; L'Hymne a L'Amour; Sinfonia 11 in g-moll, BWV 797; Soledad; Para Jobim; Operation Tango; Romance del Diablo; Waltz for Debby; Il Postino.
Personnel: Richard Galliano: accordion: Gary Burton: vibes; George Mraz: bass; Clarence Penn: drums.