Like Siggi Loch said in his opening remarks to the 8th Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic concert last night, the accordion was never really taken seriously until Astor Piazzolla came around in the early 70s. And he showed us in a two-hour show, how different and versatile this instrument can sound like in a jazz setting.
The duo which opened the night consisted of the Austrian Klaus Paier and the Croatian cellist Asja Valcic. They played original compositions from their two albums, among them the haunting “Night Walk” by Valcic and the furious Tango meets Eastern Europe meets Classical “Celtango”.
Next up came a new discovery from Madagascar: Régis Gizavo had a totally different approach to the instrument, one which included his folk roots steeped in tropical rhythms supported by his exotic vocals and also by the celebrated guitarist Nguyen Le who was responsible for some rockier moments in the mix.
The third duo was the Norwegian accordionist Stian Carstensen and the Polish violinist Adam Baldych interpreting some Swedish traditional dance and also David Bowie‘s “Life On Mars”. Both showed their extravagant technique in uptempo cascades as well as in somber ballads.
The final duo was saved for the current superstar of the instrument who played here last fall at the Berlin Jazzfest: Vincent Peirani and fellow saxophonist Émile Parisien were responsible for the show factor with the saxophonist dancing along his virtuosic and also elegant playing while Peirani played some unbelievable and mean accordion over two Sidney Bechet compositions as well as an original piece. The material came from their brilliant “Belle Époque” album.
All musicians gathered for a rousing finale paying tribute to the one and only Astor Piazzolla with the “evergreen” “Libertango” which had the audience on their feet demanding a short and memorable encore.