RICHARD GALLIANO New York Trio – Ruby My Dear – Dreyfus Jazz RICHARD GALLIANO – Luz Negra – Milan Records

by | Feb 25, 2012 | Jazz CD Reviews

RICHARD GALLIANO New York Trio – Ruby My Dear – Dreyfus Jazz FDM 36 670-2 52:18 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
(Richard Galliano – accordion; Clarence Penn – drums; Larry Grenadier – bass)
RICHARD GALLIANO – Luz Negra – Milan Records M2-36289 52:11 ****: 
(Richard Galliano – accordion; Alexis Cardenas – violin 1, 3-12; Hamilton de Holanda – mandolin 2,5,9,12; Philippe Aerts – bass 1-13; Raphael Meijas – percussion 1,3,4,6,7,9,12; Amoy Ribas – percussion 2,3,5,8,9,12,13))
The accordion has been defined as a portable, freely vibrating reed instrument. A jazz accordionist could be defined facetiously, as a musician more devoted to his instrument than musical success. Although there have been some well-known jazz names identified with the instrument such as Pete Jolly, Joe Mooney and Art Van Damme they never reached levels of acclaim in that context, that they might have deserved. Now along comes Frenchman Richard Galliano, who has been able to reinvigorate interest the instrument given its range and subtlety, as evidenced by the album Ruby, My Dear.
Although the album has a couple of well-recognized jazz pieces such as Thelonious Monk’s “Ruby My Dear” and Oscar Pettiford’s “Bohemia After Dark”, it is primarily a world music venture. However in the case of the former tune, Galliano demonstrates a luxuriance of sound and uses the full range of the keyboard to bring the piece to life. On the latter bassist Larry Grenadier drives the song ahead with his full-toned bass work. The remaining compositions on the album are for the most part originals by Galliano with the exception of the formidable bolero by Carlos Almaran Eleta entitled “Historia de un Amor” and the composition by Erik Satie called “Gnossienne No. 1”. This haunting melody gives Galliano the framework to delve into the tune’s unexpected corners.
With “Teulada” we are treated to a classical French musette but with Galliano darting over the keyboard in a more post-modern fashion. The unusually entitled “Spleen” is a dark ballad that offers some thoughtful bass soloing by Grenadier. Lastly “Waltz For Nicky” is taken at an upbeat tempo that belies its title and gives both drummer Clarence Penn and bassist Larry Grenadier a real workout.
This is a very confident band with a fine sense of style and interplay.
In this outing with his Tangaria Quartet, accordionist Richard Galliano takes us on a musical adventure that covers a variety of styles that are readily interpreted by his instrument. So while this is not a jazz album per se, it does have all the requisite elements: improvisation, harmonic structure and enthusiasm.
Galliano and his colleagues are adept at taking a number of musical styles such as the French musette, the Argentine tango, and the Italian barcarole all mixed with a Latin overlay, to bring out a range of sound colors. In this fourteen track session, most of the tunes are Galliano original compositions such as the opener “Tangaria”. This up-tempo tango has violinist Cardenas and Galliano exchanging ideas with passion. The title track “Luz Negra” brings in the mandolin of Hamilton de Holanda and provides an interesting counter-point to Galliano’s accordion. Bassist Philippe Aerts gives a strong accounting of his contribution to the session with a leading role on the Neapolitan flavoured” Guarda Che Luna”.
French composer Erik Satie provides an ideal vehicle in his composition “Gnossienne No. 3” for a melancholy interpretation of this evocative piece. The true master of the Argentine tango, Astor Piazzolla, penned “Escualo” and Galliano and his cohorts take full advantage of the framework to show off their rich technique. Another lovely piece is Galliano’s “Sanfona” where both Cardenas’ violin and de Holanda’s mandolin join the mix to give shadowy reading to the offering. With “Des Voiliers” the classic French chanson style comes to life with reminisces of a Montmartre cafe. The two final tracks on the album are all Galliano. Firstly Galliano is with bass and percussion on “Flambée Montalbanaise” and then solo accordion on “Les Florians”. In the latter piece, Galliano is in full French mode, where he captures a Parisian scene of sitting by the Seine with the bateau mouches floating by.
The accordion has never been thought of as an instrument of range and variety of sound. However Galliano has proven this to be a false assumption as he demonstrates both his virtuosity and underlying jazz aesthetic.
TrackList – NY Trio: Ruby, My Dear; L’Insidieuse; Historia De Un Amor; Bohemia  After Dark; Gnossienne Nᵒ1; Teulada; Naïa; Spleen; Waltz For Nicky
TrackList – Luz Negra: Tangaria; Luz Negra; Guarda Che Luna; Chat Pitre; Fou Rire; Gnossienne Nᵒ3; Escualo; Indifférence; Sanfona; Des Voiliers; Barbara; Sertao; Flambée Montalbanaise; Les Florins
—Pierre Giroux

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