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Album Review

In the hands of Richard Galliano, the mechanical intricacies of the accordion become agents of a compelling musical power, grace, and expression. A virtuoso of the instrument, Galliano exploits the complete orchestral potential of the keys, buttons, and air beneath his fingers. On Laurita, his musicianship is put in the service of utterly swinging jazz that is informed by the romantic and impressionistic influences of Galliano's French-Italian heritage. Call it the soundtrack for the boulevardier who likes to chase his espresso with a shot of bop. The core group on this 1995 session is Galliano, drummer Joey Baron, and bassist Palle Danielsson — a formidable trio in which Baron's muscular, musical touch and Danielsson's rich tone and technique have unfettered space to interact with Galliano's multiphonics. Guest appearances are made by frequent Galliano collaborator Michel Portal on bass clarinet for two tracks, violinist Didier Lockwood on two, and harmonica virtuoso Toots Thielemans for two others. Each works wonderful alchemy with Galliano, their contributions extending and transforming the ideas, shapes, and colors of the leader's compositions and instrumental palette. The set, consisting mostly of the leader's originals, along with a pair from Galliano mentor Astor Piazzolla, has an exciting, contemporary freshness that marries jazz drive with an elegant take on the European folk tradition. The one notable departure from this vein is Galliano's "Mr. Clifton," a track where the trio manages to out-zydeco the song's namesake, zydeco king Clifton Chenier.

Biography

Born: 12 December 1950 in Le Cannet, France

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Accordionist Richard Galliano did for European folk — specifically, the early 20th century French ballroom dance form known as musette — what his mentor Astor Piazzolla did for the Argentinian tango. Galliano reimagined and revitalized a musical tradition, expanding its emotional range to reflect modern sensibilities, opening it up to improvisation learned through American jazz. In fact, Galliano was more of a jazz musician than a folk one, although he blurred the lines so much that distinctions...
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Laurita, Richard Galliano
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