The Big Squeeze
Recording the accordion carries unique (but manageable!) challenges
I grew up around accordions. My dad was a versatile sa xophonist with very broad musical tastes. He cherished big band jazz and played in many ensembles, but his most consistent gig was holding down the sax chair in various accordion-led polka and wedding bands. He played thousands of weddings and parties, and did a stint with the Grammy-winning polka artist Walter Ostanek. Needless to say, the sound of the accordion is very familiar to me.
Over the years I’ve had the occasion to record accordion many times. Until very recently, the instrument has always been part of an ensemble, commonly playing traditional or folk repertoire. Occasionally the instrument has come up in a Tex-Mex influenced Americana or Cajun zydeco context. Until a month ago, I’d never been presented with a solo accordion recording project.
I was intrigued when I got a call to work on a recording of traditional accordion tunes. My client had learned these while growing up in Poland. I found myself not only attracted to the music, but also to the challenge of capturing the harmonically rich and very dynamic tone of a beautifully crafted and well-played piano accordion.