Our Polka Hero

Frankie Liszka

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Our Polka Hero Review

by Steve Litwin

Beyond a doubt, Eddie Blazoncyzk of Chicago is one of the most influential individuals in modern polka music. A bandleader, composer, musician, vocalist promoter and Polka Hall of Famer, he is a polka hero not only to the fans, but also musicians throughout the industry. His tunes, style and arrangements are the most emulated by other polka bands. Eddie Blazonczyk & the Versatones have been billed as "The Nation's Number One Polka Band," a titled they've earned over the years. Our Polka Hero, a 23-track 1997 recording by the Brass Connection and executive producer Mark Trzepacz/Ethnic World Records, pays tribute to Eddie Blazonczyk and does it with style, class, and quality. The dynamic talents of Frankie Liszka and the Brass Connection are complemented by a host of guest artists, including Mike Costa, Wally Dombrowski, Lenny Gomulka, Lenny Longuski, Dee Dee Ogrodny, Ryan Ogrodny, Paul Romanowski, Dave "Scrubby" Seweryniak, Larry Trojak, Mark Trzepacz, and Jimmy "Maly" Weber. Chicago Push drummer Dave Raccis is outstanding with his infamous Blaz vocal impression on a couple of numbers.

Musically, the Brass Connection has Frank Liszka and Steve Binkiewicz on trumpets, the kinetic Dave Walter on accordion, Matt Lewandowski on drums, Chris Yanetsky on acoustic bass, and the ever-amazing Peter "D" Dardzinski on concertina. Adding their instrumental expertise to the recording were Jim Johnson on piano and synthesizer, Lenny Gomulka on clarinet, and Mark Trzepacz on "stunt" trumpets.

With over 50 Blazonczyk albums released, Our Polka Hero just scratches the surface of his many hits, but the material selection was obviously done with care, selecting favorites of fans and musicians alike. Taking eight months to produce, the recording presents clean arrangements and flawless musicianship. The listener will easily find one of his or her favorites on this compilation of Blaz greats. From the early hits like "Rocks & Stones" polka to the instrumental "Hop In" polka to the John Jaworski-penned "Polka Hero," this one covers the gamut. And, to truly complete the spectrum of hits, "Season's Greetings Polka" represents the great Christmas albums recorded by Blazonczyk & the Versatones. Another superb job by "Mister Mixologist" Mark Trzepacz and crew and unquestionably a masterful effort by the Brass Connection and all the guest musicians. Our Polka Hero is a consummate tribute.

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