Global Accordion: Early Recordings

Various Artists

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Global Accordion: Early Recordings Review

by Chris Nickson

There's always been a lot more to the accordion than bad renditions of "Lady of Spain"; in fact, since its invention in 1829, it's been one of the most widely played instruments in the world, truly global, and this 26-track album shows just how it's been used, and how it's adapted to many different cultures. Kicking off with "Caridad" by los Boriquenos, from Puerto Rico, it slips over to Ireland, showing just how versatile the accordion (in all its forms) can be. Standouts are the rough'n'ready rural stylings of Brazil's Luiz Gongaza, Greece's Papatzis, and, naturally, some wonderful Cajun music, from les Beaux Freres with "Fais Do-Do Negre." Europe is, naturally, strongly represented, not merely with the sounds of Germany, but also klezmer and Polish music, and the way it prefigured the now-ubiquitous guitar in West Africa is amply illustrated in the highlife/juju of George Williams Aingo. But perhaps the most unusual piece here comes from the best-known musician -- Leadbelly, who's far more famous for his 12-string playing, but here turns in a very creditable performance on accordion on "Corn Bread Rough." Add in some excellent sleeve notes, and you have a package to convince even the most die-hard accordionphobe that the instrument is wonderful.

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