Various Artists

The Planet Squeezebox: Accordion Music From Around the World

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A box set attempting to chronicle accordion music around the world could have headed straight for failure. The instrument has been used in such diverse fields in so many countries that the resulting album would surely lack a sense of cohesion. Think again; Planet Squeezebox: Accordion Music From Around the World, a triple-CD set boxed with an eye-catching and informative 56-page book, delivers the goods. Besides an enlightening selection of music, it stands out for its clever track order. Each disc takes the form of a logical pilgrimage (both stylistically and geographically) lasting roughly one hour. The first journey begins in Paris for some musette courtesy of Gus Viseur. After a quick run around Western Europe, the set moves on to Scandinavia and the United Kingdom. Celtic and Irish folk provide a bridge to Quebec and from there on the set travels down the East Coast to reach Louisiana for a Cajun two-step. Disc two picks up where the previous one left, kicking things off with the group Zydeco Force. An archival recording of Alice Hall, blues-rock from Lynn August, and a typical polka from Fred Gregorich are among the cuts representing the rich dance tradition of the accordion in the U.S., with tracks by Pauline Oliveros and Guy Klucevsek added to illustrate the way the instrument is used in new music. Then it continues through Mexico and Latin America, all the way to Argentina and Brazil for a tango lesson with the Astor Piazzolla New Tango Quintet. The set crosses the Atlantic once again to start disc three in the Cape Verde islands, journeying through western and South Africa. A short incursion in Arabic countries leads the set into Eastern Europe, Russia, and the Far East (this third journey culls the most surprising music of the set). Each disc can be enjoyed separately; together they form an admirably open-minded collection. The label also released a single CD of highlights from this set.

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