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Review: Accordeon Musette/Swing Paris 1925-1954 Volume 4

Various Artists
Accordeon Musette/Swing Paris 1925-1954 Volume 4
[Fremeaux and Associes 2 CD set (2010, recorded 1925-1954)]

The accordion is intrinsically associated with the public image of French music, and its role in the popular musics and culture of the country has been extensively documented by Fremeaux and Associes. This latest entry in the the series focuses on dance music recorded in Paris from the jazz age through the postwar reconstruction era. The focus is on material played using the Parisian accordion in bal musettes, Parisian dance halls that trace their origins back to the 19th century when the accordion role was played by the musette, a French variation on the bagpipes. Within this broad context, the material on the two discs covers a wide variety of styles. The stereotypical French cabaret music is here, represented by pieces such as the version of “ Besame Mucho” played by Jo Privat and his ensemble. Gypsy swing is represented by several tracks, including a fox-trot arrangement of “720 in the Books” by Le Quartette Swing Emille Cararra. The accordion is also featured orchestral settings with several pieces including “Accordeonette” by Jean Peyrronin, A. Tedeschi et Leur Celebre Orchestre Musette. For “Pour te prouver que je t’ aime,” the accordion is used as accompaniment to a choral arrangement by Les Vagabonds Melomanes, and the instrument is even paired with yodelers on Orchestre Musette Deprince’ s “C’ est un Tyrolienne Accordeon.” Several virtuoso instrumental performances on the accordion are included, such as Tony Murena’s dazzling playing on “Minouche.” This well-annotated compilation brings to light a rich and important period in Parisian popular music while making a strong case for the importance of the oft-maligned accordion in French musical history.

—Michael Parrish (San Jose, CA)

[Editor’s note: This album is tough to find here in the States. The UK Amazon, though, has it for download. There were a few other sites out there that sell it as an import.]

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