Tag Archives: accordion

Elegantly Modern Accordion Rooted in Portuguese Tradition

Danças Ocultas – Dentro desse mar (Galileo Music, 2018)

Portuguese accordion quartet Danças Ocultas recorded Dentro desse mar at Casa do Mato Studios in Rio de Janeiro, produced by celebrated cellist and producer Jaques Morelenbaum. Danças Ocultas is a group of talented accordion players who perform exquisite contemporary musical pieces rooted in tradition and classical music. It is a nuanced sound, creating a mix of laid back ambience and melody rather than flashy virtuosity.

Dentro desse mar is a set of charming, elegant songs and instrumentals featuring various musical guests.  Jaques Morelenbaum brought in Brazilian percussionists, highly expressive cavaquinho, several other instrumentalists and guest vocalists from Brazil and Portugal, who provided finely-crafted chemistry around the accordions. Morelebaum also contributed his own enchanting cello work.

Danças Ocultas – Dentro desse mar

The line-up includes Artur Fernandes on diatonic accordion; Francisco Miguel on diatonic accordion; Filipe Cal on diatonic accordion; and Filipe Ricardo on diatonic accordion; David Feldman on pinao; Marcos Suzano on percussion; Brazilian singer Zelia Duncan; Jaques Morelenbaum on cello; Rogério Caetano on 7-string guitar; Luis Barcelos on mandolin and cavaquinho; Marcelo Costa on percussion; Portuguese fado singer Carminho; Robertinho Silva on percussion; Dora Morelenbaum on vocals; Tiago Abrantes on cvlarinet; and Paulo Braga on percussion.

Dentro desse mar features a captivating amalgam of Portuguese and Brazilian influences under a modern prism.

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Artist Profiles: Danças Ocultas

Danças Ocultas – Photo by Pedro Claudio

Danças Ocultas is an ensemble comprising four accordionists from Agueda near Porto, in Portugal. The quartet is among the most innovative and most exciting representatives of contemporary Portuguese music. Their concept is based on tranquil, lyrical, almost traditional music, performed with only four diatonic accordions.

The quartet’s name, Hidden Dances, has nothing to do with mysterious domains but instead means that Dancas Ocultas play music for dances that have yet to be invented. Portuguese fado plays a minor role in the ensemble’s sound; the band’s inspiration comes instead from traditional village music, Tango Nuevo and the chamber music exemplified by the Russian Terem Quartet.

Dancas Ocultas neither engage in virtuosity competitions, nor do they play pure folk music. “Impressionist Folk” is perhaps the best definition for this timeless art music: minimalist, thoughtful sound designs full of unanticipated turns and gracious melancholy.

One of the first supporters of Danças Ocultas was Gabriel Gomes, the accordionist of Portugal’s most famous world music band Madredeus. He encouraged them to explore their own sound worlds.

Dancas Ocultas’ collaboration with choreographer Paul Ribeiro and the Gulbenkian Ballet, regular appearances at international festivals and a highly acclaimed showcase at the World Music Expo (WOMEX) in 2010 have resulted in wide international recognition.

The line-up includes Artur Fernandes on diatonic accordion; Francisco Miguel on diatonic accordion; Filipe Cal on diatonic accordion; and Filipe Ricardo on diatonic accordion.

Discography:

Danças Ocultas (EMI VC, 1996)
(EMI VC, 1998)
Travessa da Espera (L’Empreinte Digitale, 2002)
Pulsar (Magic Music, 2004)
Tarab (Numerica, 2009)
Alento (iplay / Galileo MC, 2011)
Arco, EP (Uguru, 2014)
Amplitude (Uguru/Galileo Music, 2016)
Dentro desse mar (Galileo Music, 2018)

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Artist profiles: Steve Riley

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys in 2018

Steve Riley was born in Mamou, Louisiana in 1969. He grew up there, a prairie town of Mamou where Cajun French is spoken on the street, the national holiday is Mardi Gras and a poor family is one without a fiddler or accordion player. Steve learned how to play the accordion and became Mamou’s favorite son.

He plays a single-row diatonic instrument made by his cousin, famed accordionist Marc Savoy. Steve concentrated on learning Savoy’s elanorate style and the music of the Balfa Brothers.

At age 15. Steve was a young prodigy, noticed by Dewey Balfa who invited Steve to join his band. Under Dewey’s guidance, Steve grew as a performer, learning hundreds of French-language songs and how to sing them in Balfa’s singular hurts-so-good style and learning fiddle as well.

In 1988, Steve and David Greely formed the Mamou Playboys which rapidly gained prominence on the international folk scene without sacrificing the support of Louisiana fans.

The group’s first album, Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, came out in 1990, followed by ‘Tit Galop Pour Mamou (1991), Trace of Time (1993), Live! (1994), La Toussaint (1995), Friday at Last (1997), and Bayou Ruler (1998). In 2001, the band released Happytown.

Bon Rêve, released in 2003 marked a return to traditional Cajun music and was performed completely in French.

Throughout the years, Steve Riley added zydeco, swamp rock and roots country to his Cajun music mix.

In a land where accordion is king, Steve has inspired countless young men and women to follow him and keep Cajun music’s favorite instrument alive.

Discography:

Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys (Rounder Records, 1990)
Tit Galop Pour Mamou (Rounder Records, 1992)
Trace of Time (Rounder Records, 1993)
Live! (Rounder Records, 1994)
La Toussaint (Rounder Records, 1995)
Friday at Last (Swallow Records, 1997)
Bayou Ruler (Rounder Records, 1998)
Happytown (Rounder Records, 2001)
Bon Rêve (Rounder Records, 2003)
Dominos (Rounder Records, 2005)
Best of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys (Rounder Records, 2008)
Grand Isle (Rounder Records, 2011)
Voyageurs ‎(2015)
30 Years Live (Valcour Records, 2019)

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A Thrilling Night of Modern Cajun Music

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys – 30 Years Live (Valcour Records, 2019)

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys celebrated its 30th anniversary with an outstanding live performance in Lafayette, Louisiana. 30 Years Live demonstrates why Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys has become one of the finest acts in the Cajun music scene.

On 30 Years Live, the band treats the listener to a set of originals and Cajun classics. What makes Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys such a fascinating and enjoyable live act is its ability to absorb and intertwine various musical influences from the American south: traditional music from southern Louisiana, blues, rootsy country music, rock, and more. Lyrics are in English and Cajun French.

Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys – 30 Years Live

The band is led by Cajun award-winning accordion maestro Steve Riley of Mamou in Evangeline Parish, Louisiana. The Mamou Playboys includes fiddler Kevin Wimme, guitarist Sam Broussard, bassist Brazos Huval and drummer Kevin Dugas.

For this celebration, the band was joined by former member David Greely on fiddle and vocals and various guests, including Chris Stafford on organ and piano, Melete Terry on vocals, Alena Savoy on vocals and Paul “Bird” Edwards on rubboard.

Buy 30 Years Live in North America

Buy 30 Years Live! in Europe

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Artist Profiles: VILDÁ

VILDÁ

VILDÁ is a Finnish duo that performs a unique mix of mystical joiks and sounds of the Sami people together with vibrant accordion. VILDÁ includes Hildá Länsman on vocals, joik, frame drum; and
Viivi Maria Saarenkylä on accordion and backing vocals.

When Hildá and Viivi listened to each other’s music for the first time, they came up with the idea of combining traditional yoik and accordion.

Hildá Länsman is a rising yoik singer from Utsjoki who has performed at the New Music Competition and at the Helsinki Music House’s great concert arena. She won the Risteys (Crossroads) award for her vocals at Finland’s first Ethno Gala in 2017.

VILDÁ

Viivi Maria Saarenkylä is an internationally acclaimed accordion player. She was declared accordionist of the Year in Finland in 2018.

Arctic fells, frosty winds, wide waters and deep forests. That is our home – the North. For us it is the birthplace of our attitude as well as many memories, a source of inspiration, stories and tradition, a vast play ground full of endless trails to travel. “

Discography:

Vildaluodda / Wildprint (Bafe’s Factory, 2019)

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Artist Profiles: Kepa Junkera

Kepa Junkera

Kepa Junkera was born in Bilbao (located in the Basque region of Spain) in 1965. His first musical dream was realized when the band Oskorri became interested in a boy who played the trikitixa (Basque diatonic accordion) with such extraordinary skill. From 1983 onward they have shared an uninterrupted musical friendship and Junkera has played on most Oskorri albums as well as been a guest performer on several of their tours and concerts.

A composer as well as a performer, Junkera’s first original pieces were recorded in 1988 on the album Kepa, Zabaleta eta Mutriku. His two subsequent albums, 1990’s Triki Up and 1991’s Triki Zoom, are outstanding examples of a blend between jazz and trikitixa dance music.

In 1992 Junkera’s European experiences were reflected in Trans-Europe Diatonic, a special diatonic accordion trio project with John Kirkpatrick and Riccardo Tesi. The album, recorded in Belgium and followed by a long European tour, was the genesis of many international friendships Junkera has continued to nurture.

After releasing Kalegira Al-Buk, an album with an international folk rock sound, and Lau Eskuetara (recorded with Julio Pereira), Junkera joined forces with Ibon Koteron, a master of the alboka, a unique Basque wind instrument made out of two ram’s horns. Their album, Leonen Orroak (1996), explored the folk music of Junkera’s Basque homeland.

Junkera has performed on the road and in the studio with many important international folk musicians such as Béla Fleck, Carlos Núñez, Paddy Moloney and Phil Cunningham. Bilbao 00:00h, an album of unusual scope and vision, is one of these collaborations.

Kepa Junkera suffered a stroke while on tour in Belgium on December 5, 2018 and was recovering in a hospital.

Discography:

Triki Up (Elkarlanean, 1990)
Trikitixa Zoom ‎(Nuba Records, 1991)
Trans-Europe Diatonique ‎(Silex, 1993)
Kalejira Al-Buk ‎(Elkarlanean, 1994)
Lau Eskutara (Elkar , 1995)
Leonen Orroak (Elkar, 1996)
Bilbao 00:00h (Resistencia, 1998)
Maren ‎(EMI, 2001)
K ‎(EMI, 2003)
Athletic Bihotzez ‎(Fundación Athletic Club, 2004)
Hiri (Elkar, 2006)
Etxea ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2008)
Fandango: Provença Sessions ‎(Hiri Records, 2009)
Kalea ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2009)
Fandango: Habana Sessions ‎(Hiri Records, 2010)
Beti Bizi (2010)
Herria (2010)
Ultramarinos & Coloniales ‎(Warner Music Spain, 2011)
Galiza ‎(Fol, 2013)
Trikitixaren historia txiki bat – Una pequeña historia de la trikitixa, with Sorginak (2014)
Maletak ‎(Altafonte, 2016)

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Anatolia’s Joyful Celebration of Turkish and Arabic Folk Traditions


The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia (Edward Hines Music, 2018)

The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia is a compilation that includes recordings from Anatolia’s previous three albums: Folk Songs and Dance Music of Turkey and the Arab World (1996), Lost Songs of Palestine (2001), and Middle Eastern Songs and Dances for Children (2005).

Anatolia is a world music group led by American multi-instrumentalist Edward J. Hines, whose goal is to preserve the folk,classical and dance music traditions of the Middle East.

The Best of Folk Music Group Anatolia presents a fascinating overview of the rich and varied folk traditions of Turkey and the Arab world, using a wide spectrum of traditional musical instruments performed by Hines and his collaborators.

Even if you don’t speak the language, the popular Turkish children’s song “Ali Baban’ın Çiftliği” reels you in right away with its catchy hooks. It’s a lot of fun, featuring various mimicked farm animal sounds.

The lineup includes Edward Hines on ‘ud, divan sazi, kaval, clarinet, zurna, buzuq, cura, sipsi, ocarina and vocals); Taner Okatan on saz, baglama, divan sazi, percussion and vocals; Michel Moushabeck on percussion and vocals; Jamal Sinno on kanun; Jenny Killgore on violin, kasik and vocals; Bruce Rawan on kanun; Mohammed Mejaour on nay, percussion and vocals; Saied Khoury on violin, buzuq, ud and vocals; and V. Tailan Yildiz on accordion.

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Artist Profiles: Frode Haltli

Frode Haltli – Photo by Rolf Schoellkopf

Accordion virtuoso Frode Haltli has received several awards, including a Norwegian Spellemann Prize in 2002, and was named Young Soloist of the Year by the Norwegian Concert Institute in 2001.

Haltli was was a member of Rusk and contributed to a long line of productions, including recordings for the prestigious German label ECM.

Since 1999 he has performed and recorded regularly with Scandinavian trio POING.

Frode Haltli – Photo by Knut Bry

Discography:

Looking on Darkness, with the Vertavo String Quartet (ECM, 2002)
Rusk (Heilo/Grappa, 2002)
Rusk II (Heilo/Grappa, 2006)
Passing images (ECM, 2007)
Yeraz, with Trygve Seim (ECM, 2008)
Arne Nordheim Complete Accordion Works (Simax Classics, 2012)
Vagabonde Blu (Hubro/Grappa, 2014)
Air, with the Trondheim Soloists and the Arditti Quartet (ECM, 2016)
Rumi Songs, with Trygve Seim (ECM, 2016)
StaiStua, with Ulvo and Hole (NorCD, 2016)
Avant Folk (Hubro/Grappa, 2018)

With POING

Giants of Jazz (LLRR, 2003)
Planet POING (Jazzaway, 2005)
River Mouth Echoes (Tzadik, 2008)
Wach auf! (Øra Fonogram, 2011)
Sur POING (Aurora, 2016)
Kapital & Moral (Grappa, 2016)

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Artist Profiles: Regis Gizavo

Regis Gizavo with Nguyên Lê – Photo courtesy of Act Music

Regis Gizavo was an accordionist from Tulear. He presented himself not only as a defender of the traditions of his region (where the ethnic groups, Vezo, Masikoro and Mahafaly, co-exist), but also of modern, original music, absorbing diverse influences with perfect ease. His experience in Madagascar: immersion from his early childhood in trance music, performance of popular music with various variety groups, and pure research in collaboration with the guitarist D’Gary made him an accomplished musician. In 1990, was awarded Radio France International’s “Discovery Prize”.

Tulear, 1971. In a hut, in the Mahavatse neighborhood, a group of kids armed with makeshift instruments, performed songs they had heard on the radio: French songs, American tunes, South African and Mozambican music, spread by the radio waves that reached the extreme southwest of Madagascar. In a neighboring hut, there was a woman in a trance. Surrounded by relatives, she was prey to the caprices of the spirits which shook and transformed her. Suddenly, she perceived the sound of an accordion behind the wall, and was taken over by a frenzy of dancing (the accordion is an instrument of trance in this region, accordionists are part of every ritual, of every celebration). Quickly, they sent for the providential musician. It turned out to be a twelve-year-old child, Regis Gizavo, who fled at the sight of the possessed woman. He was caught and brought back by force. He was forced to play with his eyes closed, terrified, but would succeed little by little in calming the spirits and freeing the woman. The ambivalence of Regis Gizavo’s talent is entirely shown in this anecdote.

The son of a teacher with modern ideas who played the accordionist musette and taught it to five of his thirteen children, Regis pursued management studies at the university, and played all kinds of music on his island and in Europe, where he lived since 1990. But in his ethnic group Vezo (fishermen of the southwest coast of Madagascar), and all those which inhabit the Tulear region (Masikoro, Mahafaly…), the accordion has a religious connotation far too strong for Regis not to have somehow been permeated by it. Every summer, he returned to his mother’s village, Tampolo, on the other side of the Mangoky river where he listened to traditional accordionists; and even if he didn’t learn the trance music, he grew up in their vibrations; their driving grooves emanated naturally forth from his fingers.

His first band was the Filibustiers, a group that entertained at local events. When he left the group to return to school, he was barely fifteen. After that he was hired by a more professional group, the Sailors, who accompanied the singer Angeline in concert and on the radio. The accordion belonged to the boss, as is often the case in Madagascar; Regis didn’t get his own instrument until 1990. At age twenty-five, after he graduated, he undertook a journey across the island which gave him the opportunity to play with numerous traditional! and modern musicians. Beginning in 1989, he started to record his own compositions with Landy, a singer from Tulear living in Tananarivo.

In 1990, Regis was the winner of the “Decouvertes” (Discoveries) musical competition organized by Radio France Internationale. He left for Europe where the music scene greeted him with a warm welcome and he was encouraged to pursue an international career. The drummer Francis Lassus invited him to join Boh? Combo, the group he was putting together. Regis accompanied Graeme Allwright, played on the albums of Zao, Higelin, les Tetes Brulees, etc.. and occasionally joined up with his old friend D’Gar. In 1993, he became the regular accordionist for I Muvrini, replacing jazz musician Daniel Mille. The 330-odd concerts and sessions given in the span of two years at their side didn’t stop him from working on his first solo album, which he recorded around Christmas 1995.

Regis Gizavo died on July 16, 2017

Discography

Mikea (Shanachie, 1996)
Samy Olombelo (2000)
Stories (Marabi, 2006)
Madagascar All Stars (2009)
Ilakake (Cinq Planètes, 2012)

[Biography edited from an original by Corinne Serres].

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