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September 26, 2014

Behind the Scenes with Accordionist Julien Labro


This post is a part of a series of playlists curated by artists, UMS Staff, and community. Check out more music here.
Julien Labro
Accordionist Julien Labro performs alongside with other artists as part of Big Squeeze: An Accordion Summit on November 1, 2014 in Hill Auditorium. Photo by Anna Webber.

Accordion virtuoso Julien Labro (of Hot Club of Detroit) performs with Chicago-based contemporary classical Spektral Quartet, the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia, the Irish Duo, and accordionist Alexander Sevastian as part of the Big Squeeze, an evening of accordion music on November 1, 2014 at Hill Auditorium.

We asked Julien to share a few of his favorite tunes with us, and to tell us a bit about what he loves about them. Check out his selections and listen along below.

1. Jeff Ballard Trio with Lionel Loueke & Miguel Zenón – “Beat Street” from Time’s Tales
Three of my favorite musicians getting together. Love the vibe and instrumentation, and the different musical directions achieved. Check out “Hanging Tree” from the same album for a total different vibe from the track I selected.

2. John Coates Jr. – “Yesterday” from The Jazz Piano of John Coates, Jr.
Just found out about this pianist a few days ago. Keith Jarrett played drums in Coates’s piano trio for some time, so it’s interesting to hear some of Keith Jarrett’s early musical inspiration.

3. Stromae – “Formidable” from Racine Carrée
I discovered this Belgian artist while watching a French talk show some time ago and was very impressed with his performance and demeanor. It’s currently back in my rotation, especially this track which is the one I heard that day.

4. Jimmy Smith – “Cat in a Tree” from Peter & the Wolf And the Incredible Jimmy Smith
I’ve always been a fan of Jimmy Smith, and this song features him with the Oliver Nelson’s big band. They collaborated on a handful of albums but the choice of material is a bit different from their previous work since the album based on the themes from Prokofiev’s Peter & the Wolf.

5. Jay-Z & Kanye West – “Lift Off” from Watch The Throne
I listen to all sorts of music and hip-hop is no exception. The whole album is awesome, and this particular track may be more “poppish” than hip-hop, perhaps due to Beyoncé’s presence. Regardless of what we want to label it stylistically, I really dig the hook and the track.

6. Now vs Now – “Future Favela” from Earth Analog
I’ve been into this band for a couple years now. Jason Lindner is an awesome pianist and keyboardist, super creative, and Mark Guiliana is also one my favorite drummers.

7. Charlie Haden – “Song For Che” from Liberation Music Orchestra
Charlie Haden, a jazz giant, has left us recently, so I’m listening to some of my favorite albums, like this one, as well as unfamiliar ones as a personal homage to this bass legend. I love this entire album and this Haden’s composition always resonated with me.

8. Jack Bruce – “Sam Enchanted Dick Medley” from Things We Like
Just got hipped to this reissue. This is Jack Bruce (Cream’s bass player) playing upright bass in a somewhat free jazz setting. Very interesting and cool album, noteworthy is the presence of young guitarist John McLaughlin playing here right before joining Tony Williams’ band Lifetime.

9. Clark Terry – “Brother Terry” from Color Changes
Listened to this for the first time a couple weeks ago while in Lebanon riding in the car with the trumpet player from the Lebanese Philharmonic. I flipped out about how good and fresh this was despite being recorded in 1960, the arrangements and instrumentation and playing sound so hip, amazing! It also reaffirmed for me that good music is timeless and appreciated all across the world.

10. Chico Buarque – “Funeral de um Lavrador” from Per un Pugno di Samba
Big fan of Brazilian music and of course of the great singer songwriter Chico Buarque. This is a great album recorded in 1970 and arranged by Ennio Morricone!

11. Maurice Ravel – Second Movement (Assez vif. Très rythmé) of String Quartet in F Major
I always like to explore composers that I know well time and time again because there are always new things to discover and intricate details  I’ve missed. I oftentimes arrange and write for strings, and I’m always in awe of Ravel’s chops as an orchestrator.

12. Hossein Alizadeh & Djivan Gaspariyan – “Mama” from Endless Vision
Just discovered Hossein Alizadeh through an Iranian friend, and I feel in love with his music. On this album, he’s joined by duduk master Djivan Gaspariyan. This music and this track in particular transports me to visual and emotional places…amazing!

13) Laura Mvula – “Father Father” from Sing to the Moon
Love her vocal chops and style. The live solo version of this song is even better than this studio cut….YouTube it, you won’t be disappointed I promise.

14) Richard Bona – “Dina Lam” from Munia
I first heard this song on Bobby McFerrin’s Live in Montreal DVD. Richard Bona, one of the guests stars, joins for a duo performance with snippets of this song, which also made me dig up this album.

15) Brian Blade & the Fellowship Band – “Ark.La.Tex” from Landmarks
I’m a big fan of Brian Blade. I’ve seen him perform in many musical settings and with many bandleaders (Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, Joshua Redman, Daniel Lanois to name a few). I enjoy his songwriting and I’ve always love his Fellowship Band especially since it’s musically different from the usual setting I get to hear him in.

What did you think about this playlist? Share your thoughts or song suggestions in the comments below.