Neshko Neshev has been playing with Ivo Papazov (his cousin) for several decades in the legendary band Trakiya, which he helped found. He is a master of the Bulgarian, Macedonian, Serbian, Romanian, and Romani [Gypsy] repertoires and has won numerous prizes for his virtuosic playing at festivals and international competitions.
Of Turkish Romani ancestry, Neshko was born in 1954 in the town of Kurdzhali and began playing accordion at the age of nine, learning from his father, a well-known clarinetist who accompanied the best singers of the time. He also attended music school.
Neshko is an accomplished composer and arranger as well as performer, having created hundreds of compositions.
He toured with the Yunakov Ensemble as part of the 1999 Gypsy Caravan. He also works for the House of Culture in Kurdzhali, teaching children, leading several ensembles, and writing orchestrations. Several years ago he was honored with a gala 25th anniversary concert, and a documentary film was made about him.
Sophie Cavez is a self-taught musician who started playing the diatonic accordion at the age of 17. She began her career by replacing Didier Laloy in various settings, but was soon recognized for the remarkable quality of her playing. As a result she became the accordionist of numerous bands herself, one of them being Urban Trad.
Together with Karim Bagglli she also founded her own band Dazibao where she played her own compositions full of eastern and flamenco influences. Apart from this she can also be seen in the Racines show by comedian Phlllippe Vauchel, and in Luc Pilartz’s VioSons populaires en Wallonie.
She played accordion with Celtic bands Camaxe and Ialma and has had a long-standing collaboration with cellist Baltazar Montanaro.
Jong Folk (Apple Rekord, 2003)
Elem, with Urban Trad (Universal Music, 2005)
Imaxes, with Camaxe (Wildboar, 2005) Alma, with Dazibao (Home Records, 2005)
Si la terre…, with Geneviève Laloy (Polyson, 2005)
Fars, with Jong Folk (Apple Rekord, 2005)
Nova Era, with Ialma (2006)
Erbalunga, with Urban Trad (2007)
E40, with Dazibao (2007)
Luna, with KV Express (2007)
Lumen, with No Blues (2008)
The Watchman, with Ad Van Meurs & Friends (2010)
Sophie Cavez and Baltazar Montanaro (Appel Rekords, 2010)
Les Mamelles du Désir, with Jeff Caresse (Appel Rekords, 2011)
Opus 1, with Knopf Quartet (Wildboar 2011) Escales, with Baltazar Montanaro (Appel Rekords, 2012)
Reiseiland, with Soetkin Collier Quartet (Appel Rekords, 2012) 3e temps, with Baltazar Montanaro (2015)
Zafon, with KV Express (Homerecords 2016)
Five of the leading European accordion players got together to record an album and tour combining their talents. Te is an accordion fest full of virtuosic performances, fascinating interactions and masterfully synchronized ensemble work.
The musical influences range from traditional Irish, Italian, Finnish and Spanish Basque folk music traditions to jazz and beyond.
The five performers of Samurai Accordion include David Munnelly (Ireland) on diatonic accordion; Riccardo Tesi (Italy) on organetto diatonico; Simone Bottasso (Italy) on organetto and electronics; Kepa Junkera (Spain) on trikitixa and percussion; and Markku Lepistö (Finland) on kolmerivinen haitari.
Kyle Huval and the Dixie Club Ramblers – Straight Allons (Valcour Records, 2017)
Award-winning accordionist Kyle Huval presents a lively set of dance-oriented Cajun songs. On Straight Allons you’ll hear Cajun French language songs featuring passionate accordion, great fiddling and pedal steel guitar, which gives it an old time country music flavor at times.
Kyle Huval is deeply influenced by the Cajun dancehall music of the 1960s and 1970s.
The song selection includes Cajun classics as well as new songs written by Kyle Huval and Cody Lafleur.
Personnel: Kyle Huval on accordion, pedal steel guitar and vocals; Mitch Schexnyder on fiddle; Jo Vidrine on guitar; Joel Savoy on fiddle and guitar; and Cody Lafleur on drums and vocals.
Straight Allons is a refreshing albums with catchy dance rhythms and notable instrumental performances.
Karen Tweed was born in Willesden, London, UK in 1963. She has Irish and English roots. Tweed is an accordion virtuoso known for her work with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1990-1993), The Poozies, Roger Wilson, Sally Barker and her insatiable appetite for Irish sessions. Tweed has also recorded two releases with Ian Carr, Fyace (Fyasco) and Shhh (Hypertension).
She was a member of Anglo-Swedish band Swåp 1997-2005.
The Palm Of Your Hand, with Roger Wilson (1987)
Beating The Drum, with Sally Barker & The Rhythm (1992)
Signs, with The Kathryn Tickell Band (1993)
Chantoozies, with The Poozies (1993) Drops Of Springwater (1994)
The Silver Spire (1994)
Irish Choice Tune Book (1994)
Courage, Love and Grace, with Pete Morton (1995)
Dansoozies, with The Poozies (1995)
Shhh, with Ian Carr (1995) Fyace, with Ian Carr(1997) Swåp (Amigo, 1997)
New Directions In The Old, with Roy Bailey (1997)
Come Raise Your Head, with The Poozies (1998) Sic, with Swåp (Amigo, 1999)
Half As Happy As We, with The Two Duos Quartet (1999)
Infinite Blue, with The Poozies (2000)
Coda, with Roy Bailey (2000)
Raise your head: A Retrospective, with The Poozies (2001)
May Monday, with Timo Alakotila (2001)
Mosquito Hunter, with Swåp (2002)
One Roof Under, with Andy Cutting (2002)
Faerd, with Faerd (2003)
Changed Days Same Roots, with The Poozies (2003)
Each Step on the Way, with Tony Hilliard (2005) Du Da, with Swåp (2005)
Gastbud, with Morten Alfred Hoirup and Harald Haaugaard (2005)
Essentially Invisible to the Eye (2012)
One of the major figures in Tex-Mex border music, Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a singer and accordion virtuoso of the first rank. His father virtually invented the conjunto instrumental style and Santiago’s playing follows in that tradition while at the same time incorporating much of the more modern approach made popular by his brother Flaco.
Born in 1944, Santiago is the younger son of Don Santiago Jimenez Sr., one of the great pioneers of conjunto accordion style. Where his elder brother Leonardo “Flaco” Jimenez has helped modernize conjunto by bringing in jazz, rock and rhythm & blues concepts, Santiago has purposely fashioned his own playing after his father’s. He has dedicated himself to upholding the tradition his father helped develop via Spanish-language radio spots and recordings that date back to the late 1930s.
Some of Santiago Jr.’s first recordings were on local labels – Lira, Magda, Discos Grande, Corona — and were sold on 45 rpms. In 1960, at age 17 he recorded a full-length album with Flaco. Recordings including Corazon de Piedra and Canciones de Mi Padre have appeared on Watermelon Records based in Austin.
The songs in Spanish are lively and direct and deal with real-life situations — work love and dance. More than a revivalist, Santiago Jimenez Jr. is a living memory of a time when the Mexican-American people of South Texas were making their presence known amid social oppression forced assimilation and economic difficulty. The music represents the experience of a people and is celebrated for having helped shape a society that remains strong in its identity and cultural presence.
Familia y Tradicion (1989)
El Mero Mero de San Antonio (Arhoolie 1990)
El Gato Negro (1990) Corazon De Piedra (1992) Canciones de mi padre (Watermelon 1994)
Musica De Tiempos Pasados Del Presente y Futuro (1995) Viva Seguin (1996)
El chief de San Antonio (Chief Records 1996)
Cama de Piedra (Les Nuits Atypiques 1997)
Tex-Mex Party (1997)
Purely Instrumental (Arhoolie 1998)
Corrido de Esequiel Hernandez: Tragedia de Redford (Arhoolie 1999) Corridos De La Frontera (2005)
Accordionist Phil Cunningham was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in 1960. His musical career began with accordion lessons at the age of three and violin a few years later. His initial training was in classical music with a deep interest and love of the traditional music of his homeland developing simultaneously. In 1976 he joined his brother Johnny Cunningham in the highly acclaimed Scottish band Silly Wizard and was a full-time member until 1983. Phil contributed many of his own compositions to their mostly traditional repertoire adding to the musical heritage of Scotland and keeping the tradition alive.
Phil left Silly Wizard in 1983 to pursue a solo career as he found himself in demand as a composer and performer for television, radio, film and stage. Between 1985 and 1987 he toured and recorded with supergroup Relativity with his brother Johnny and Irish brother and sister Michael and Triona O’Domnaill.
Phil and fiddler Aly Bain formed one of the most celebrated acts on the Scottish traditional scene. The duo first worked together on a television series in 1988 and embarked on their first tour shortly after. They were so well received that they have been touring Scotland annually ever since in addition to frequent performances in Europe and North America.
Phil has produced albums for many popular traditional artists including Dolores Keane and Altan. In 1990 he wrote the music for Bill Bryden’s spectacular theater productions “The Ship” (1990) and “The Big Picnic” (1994). He has worked as music director and composer for various BBC Scotland series and also wrote The Highlands &Islands Suite, an orchestral work which was performed at The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. He has also toured with Bonnie Raitt and Kepa Junkera in addition to running CAP recording studios with his partner Donna.
In 2002 Phil was awarded the MBE for services to Scottish Music and was voted Best Instrumentalist in the inaugural Scottish Traditional Music Awards in 2003.
His compositions are covered by musicians the world over and he continues to write and add to his prolific repertoire. His proudest moments have been the premiers of his two orchestral suites for Symphony orchestra and Celtic instruments. His piece Ceilidh was written for and performed by acclaimed Scots percussionist Evelyn Glennie and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.
KV Express is the charming project of composer and virtuoso accordionist Sophie Cavez, a multi-faceted Belgian musician involved in many contemporary folk music projects. Zafon is a set of beautiful instrumentals (with some wordless vocals) highlighting the accordion. It’s inspired by the folk music of Belgium, Scandinavia, Ireland and Portuguese fado as well as the poetry of acclaimed Spanish writer Carlos Ruiz Zafón.
Sophie Cavez is joined by several musicians on various tracks. The lineup on Zafon includes Sophie Cavez on diatonic accordion, bass and vocals; Jo Zanders on percussion; Didier François on nyckelharpa; Julien Padovani on Rhodes electric piano; Karim Baggili on oud; Fabiola Fernandes on vocals; Grégory Jolivet on hurdy gurdy.
John Williams was born in Chicago in 1967. He is a third generation concertina and button accordion player from both sides of the family. His father Brendan and his grandfather Johnny Williams were noted musicians in their native Doolin County Clare where concertina is most often the instrument of choice. There was no shortage of traditional music around the house as he was growing up. He began playing in sessions around Chicago encouraged by such musical residents as the late Johnny McGreevy flutists Seamus Cooley and Kevin Henry and uilleann piper Joe Shannon.
John developed a maturity in his playing rarely heard in one so young. The adjudicators sensed it in 1989 when they awarded him the Senior All-Ireland championship for concertina making him the first American ever to win that honor. His subsequent summers in Doolin served to widen his repertoire and associate him with some of Ireland?s most respected musicians.
As a founding member of the groundbreaking band Solas Williams received wider recognition playing to sold out audiences internationally and earning two NAIRD (later called AFIM) awards and Grammy nominations for the ensemble’s 1996 and 1997 releases Solas and Sunny Spells and Scattered Showers.
The Irish national broadcasting network RTE has featured Williams as the subject of the radio program The Long Note the television series The Pure Drop and the Christmas special Geantrai.
His album Steam features Dean Magraw and Randal Bays former Solas bandmates Seamus Egan and John Doyle fiddler Liz Carroll as well as Chicago jazz greats Larry Gray on bass and Paul Wertico on percussion.
Outside traditional music John has collaborated on productions with Gregory Peck Doc Severinson Studs Terkel Mavis Staples jazz pianist Bob Sutter bluegrass legend Tim O’Brien director Sam Mendes the London Symphony Orchestra and the Irish Chamber Ensemble. Audiences nationwide recognize Williams from numerous appearances on Mountain Stage A Prairie Home Companion and The Grand Ol’ Opry as well as guest performances with The Chieftains Nickel Creek and Riverdance.
On film he appears as a bandleader music consultant and composer in Dreamworks’ classic Chicago thriller Road to Perdition. Centrally featured in the Academy Award-Nominated score by Thomas Newman Williams’ autumnal Perdition Piano Duet was released on the 22 Universal soundtrack album as performed in the film by stars Paul Newman and Tom Hanks.
In August 2003 Chicago Magazine selected Williams in their annual Best of Chicago issue as one of the city’s finest instrumentalists. He recorded a collaborative album Raven with composer and guitarist Dean Magra.
Louisiana musician Jimmy Breaux was the longtime accordionist in celebrated Cajun band BeauSoleil. He is in the fourth generation of his family to play Cajun music.
Jimmy Breaux was born in 1967 and grew up in Louisiana. In 1988 at the age of 2 Breaux joined Michael Doucet’s pioneering young Cajun band BeauSoleil not only helping to bring pride to their Cajun heritage but also popularizing their dance music rooted in tradition by playing it around the world over the next 25 years.
In addition to being featured on BeauSoleil recordings Breaux has released solo albums that feature not only Doucet and other bandmates but other leaders of contemporary Louisiana Cajun music such as Steve Riley.
With a combination of Cajun classics and original songs Breaux is carrying on and extending his family tradition.
Among his musical relatives are his father Preston Breaux, grandfather Amé Breaux, brother Pat Breaux, great-grandfather Auguste Breaux and great-aunt Cleoma Breaux. The latter was married to Joe Falcon, one of the great Cajun musicians of the 1930s.