Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Wolf Den: Cartoon Jazz And Then Some

From Contributing Editor Clay Riness

When I was young I thought the accordion was the Anti-Christ. All I could imagine was some fat kid in Coke bottle thick glasses trying to murder Lady Of Spain. As I grew older, and subsequently, smarter, I found that there are all kinds of different instruments in the accordion family, from little English concertinas, to diatonic button boxes (great big harmonicas with bellows!), and yes, piano accordions, to mention a few. At one point, I suddenly realized that squeeze boxes were in all kinds of ethnic and cultural music dance music, and in country, jazz, whatever. Who knew it could be so hip?

I came to love a ton of music that featured accordions...and I am privileged to have known and played with some killer players. One of my favorites is Dan Newton, commonly referred to as "Daddy Squeeze". Daddy is in about nine or ten bands at any one time, but I know him best for his leadership and virtuosity in the Cafe Accordion Orchestra, based in Minnesota's Twin Cities.

They play beautiful French musettes and Tin Pan Alley cartoon jazz music, the kind of thing you might know from a Betty Boop cartoon. Don't fool yourself, it's fantastic stuff, and they are smooth as soy milk. Also in this video, on the fiddle and singing the French verse, is one of my oldest friends and music buddies, Eric Mohring. If you think he's smoking good on the fiddle, well, you ought to see the man play the mandolin.


1 comment:

  1. Wonderful, complete agreement here.. I too have aged into the accordion... I have inherited my Dad's small piano style. I've played it in church to some simple gospel songs... I do love the sound mixed with that music.