Why not accordion ?

To my point of view it's one of the most universal solo instruments, but not widely accepted in any classical or jazz orchestras or bands. It's also sophisticated. I'd say extremely sophisticated. In order to deliver smooth and artistic sound it may require long and extensive practice to handle bellows and position your hands properly. In addition there are two button boards that can deliver sophisticated polyphonic parts that can create an impression of small band inside one instrument. You can also count on fingers great accordionists while you can have an endless list of great guitarists or saxophonists.
If you can find them, there were two CDs (re-releases of Vanguard recordings) made by the Hohner Accordion Orchestra, called Accordiorama and Accordiarama 2, which are a lot of fun. I believe they date from the early 60s. Light classics and show tunes, all very well-played. Truly a unique sound.

I also recall attending a concert by the (sadly) now defunct Colonial Symphony in Morristown, NJ where they played a concerto for a similar instrument (bandeleon) composed by a contemporary Latin American composer. Do not recall the soloist, but I believe he was local to the northern NJ area. Perhaps Frogman might know who and what I'm thinking of. And Cz, you're right, the tonal colors and dexterity of the soloist were astounding.

Finally, when I was playing in a rock band back in the 60s, the organist in our group also played in another band and would sometimes play an electric accordion instead of the organ. He got some incredible sounds out of that instrument.
Czarivey - Not the style of music you'e likely thinking of but the greatest accordionist I've ever heard is Flaco Jiménez, the Conjunto, Norteño and Tejano music master from San Antonio. His command of the instrument and his musical range are exceptional.

He's won six Grammy awards including a Lifetime Achievement Award and has worked with a long list of other great (or famous) musicians including Ry Cooder, David Lindley, Peter Rowan, Doug Sahm, The Rolling Stones, Dr. John, Dwight Yoakam, and many others.
Some nice "squeezebox" on Paul Simons Graceland.
There was an accordion on one of the early stones songs, lady jane or backstreet girl, something like that. Maybe concertina is the actual instrument.
Can you imagine what Jimi Hendrix would look like playing an accordion? I wonder what the accordion version of Stairway to Heaven would sound like. lol. I guess you really do have a good sense of humor Czarivey.
Zd, if you check KTU progressive rock band(accordion based), you will speak completely different on what is achievable or not on accordion. Get creative and play some Purple Haze just using basic acoustic accordion not Rolland V.
Modern generation of accordionists prove it, but still not enough crowd to appreciate. It's all depends on crowd size, not style of music.
I think Polka music did a lot to kill the instrument in many ways. Too many "oompa" bands playing it in traditional fashion with one song sounding like the next. Doesn't Zydeco music have some great players? Joe
Google "Kepa Junkera".

I live in the Los Angeles area, where it is illegal to play an accordion.

Play an accordion - Go directly to jail - It's the law!
+1 for Flaco Jimenez.

It's not exactly an accordion but kind of it's distant cousin with the bad breath; Astor Piazzola played the bandoneon and pretty much defined the tango genre. Every one of his recordings is worth having.
The accordion is more common in popular music than its reputation might suggest. For those who are curious, Google "Those Darn Accordions" - a California-based band that has done some wonderful things with classics such as Low Rider and Stairway To Heaven. Really!
The Stalinist government of the Soviet Union were big proponents of the accordion and did much to spread its use and develop its repertoire. The accordionistas are one of his greatest cultural legacies.
07-07-15: Onhwy61
The Stalinist government of the Soviet Union were big proponents of the accordion and did much to spread its use and develop its repertoire. The accordionistas are one of his greatest cultural legacies.

MMM perhaps that's why I love it. During that time accordion in Soviet Union schools of music and conservatories was established as classical music instrument capable of performing whole orchestral concerts in unique transcriptions made by various composers.
Check out the Hot Club of Detroit for some amazing accordion, in a band performing gypsy-type swing/jazz.
Tango is HUGE in Finland , Argentina North.
Most Tango Bands have an accordion, a GREAT player you can
find on Amazon is Maria Kalaniemi .
Not exactly what Czarivey had in mind but somewhat related (and especially to Sfar's comment)- David Hidalgo's accordion on Dylan's "Together Through Life" defines the sound of that recording and really makes the entire album for me. Props to accordion in roots music, at least.
Years ago in my bachelor days,I went through a Cajun phase where I regularly visited friends in New Orleans to party. I picked up a taste for zydeco. Of course, the accordion is integral in zydeco music and the best practitioners use the instrument to motivate people on the dance floor as well as make them cry during ballads. My favorites are Clifton Chenier, his son C.J. Chenier, and Buckwheat Zydeco. Cedric Watson is terrific as well. Great fun and musicianship from an instrument too often associated with Weird Al type clowns.
I grew up watching the Lawrence Welk Show (my Pa was from S. Dakoda), and always enjoyed Lawrence and his bandleader's playing. Then in the 70's, playing in a band whose repertoire included Hard Country, got into Flaco etc., but have never played with an accordionist myself. Garth Hudson of The Band played it a little with them---on Dylan's When I Paint My Masterpiece, for one.
I'll second the Cajun suggestion. Zachary Richard is a personal favorite for his hybrid Cajun-pop music (both zydeco and waltz) and his singing. Early on, the wonderful guitarist Sonny Landreth played in Richard's band.

Another Cajun band that sometimes features accordion is Beausoleil, and they're also always great. Consistently marvelous fiddle playing as well as occasional accordion wizzardry.

I'm also a fan of both Flaco and Hidalgo. The last Las Lobos show that I attended saw David Hidalgo spend roughly half his stage time on accordion. He's one of my favorite guitarists, but I wasn't the least bit disappointed by his choice.
Two bands that I love are Paris Combo and Quadro Nuevo and they both use accordians, though it's not always used with Paris Combo. I couldn't imagine either one without the use of an accordion. Done properly in a Jazz setting, it's a wonderful instrument full of life and expression and as valuable as any other instrument used.

You can lead with it or play backup and it harmonizes beautifully to the point where it can fool you into thnking it's a completely different instrument. You just have to hear played in the hands of a pro to appreciate it.

All the best,
More Theremin While we're at it too please. 👽
Google is your friend. Nick de Caro played the accordion on Back Street Girl which is on Between the Buttons. Brian Jones played the Vibraphone.
Check out Dino Saluzzi, the Argentinian jazz bandoneon player. He is mostly recorded on ECM as a band leader and as a guest for some of ECM's very interesting Scandinavian jazzmen.

"A gentleman is someone who can play the accordion, but doesn't."-- Tom Waits
Another album that illustrates how far you can get from the accordion stereotype is Anouar Brahem's "Le Pas du Chat Noir." The music itself is hard to describe, maybe Tunisian/Parisian jazz chamber music.

The accordion playing of Jean-Louis Matinier is astonishing, not because of any flashy technique but because of how beautifully it integrates with the oud and piano. Most people I've played it for have run out and bought it, most not realizing they'd been listening to an accordion.
Just caught at the good will super cool record of Art Van Damme quintet self-title on Columbia 6-eye in near-new condition. Enjoyed a lot...
Goodwill is a good place to look for well recorded accordion. One can find many older records there in good quality on the cheap to buy just because. Instrumentation in many older records from teh 50s and 60s was purely acoustic and analog and many talented acts of all sizes playing many different instruments that are fun to listen to in hifi were recorded. Accordions, harmonicas, organs and all the rest. Hifi was new and marketable back then so record companies paid a lot of attention to sound quality. None all that popular though so most people just give them away eventually if they have them but most recordings from this era are acoustic treats for a modern day audiophile armed with a decent turntable and hifi.
For a real treat listen to the Ry Cooder medly of "Viva Seguin" and "Do-Re-Mi" on his live album. Flaco Jimenez is perfect and the whole band cooks.
Flaco is mexican harmonica folk player. I like more sophisticated and skilled performances of jazz improvisation or classical music played by accordionist.

My picks for jazz players:

Ludovic Beier -- France (Gypsy Manuche jazz)
Richard Galliano -- France (Jazz)
Pietro Adragna -- Italy(Young jazz musician super fast and artistic and classically trained)
Art Van Damme -- USA (Space Jazz)


Yuri Shishkin -- Russia (One of the greatest professors and instructor of classical accordion)
Alexander Hrustevich -- Ukraine (Young and talented with combined jazz and classical repertoire)


Kimmo Pohjonen -- KTU band leader -- progressive experimental rock.

I value clean and artistic performance on this instrument. Classically trained accordionists do get my preference. The ones I listed are classically trained.
Well, two out of 3 isn't bad. :)
Rcprince, I happen to be playing in a musical production in which the
accordion is used very effectively in lieu of various other instruments
(mainly strings) due to reduced orchestrations/adaptations of the standard
large scale orchestrations of these works. The subject of this thread came
up in conversation with the accordionist in this production and it turns out
that he attended the concert with the Colonial Symphony that you mention.
The soloist was the well known bandoneonist from Uruguay (living in NY)
Raul Jaurena; the work was Astor Piazzola's "Concerto For

Thanks for the info and the links, Frogman! I should have remembered it was a Piazolla work.
Straight up gang, you want to hear what the accordion can do
in ensemble (accordion, piano.violin,guitar,double-bass and vocialist} buy Finnish Tango Volume II by Tango Orch. Uno .
EUCD 2281.
This is sophisticated original music recorded in excellent sound at The Sibelius Academy in Helsinki. The Tango has become the folk music of Finland.
Sounds like a cross between Piazolla and The Hot Club of France. I picked up on the band from a live concert on Twin-Cities public TV.
Anybody buys this on my recommend and is disappointed I'll send you 20 bucks for the CD .
If anyone does take me up don't get Volume II , but the one titled just " Finnish Tango" EUCD 1830.
I just got this one from Amazon today, the vocalist is farther back in the mix which is better , esp, if you don't understand Finnish.Also, its Orch. Unto not Uno.
A chamber music vibe on this one ,
Cowboy Junkies, the great Folk-Rock-Space band, make pretty heavy use of accordion at some points, as I recall. Great voice, and they care about recordings.

Check out Myron Floren. He was the accordionist for Lawrence Welk back in the 50's and 60's. He was terrific.

There's a bunch of his stuff for sale on Ebay. Check it out:


Also check out Art VanDamme and Dick Contino.
I've got Myron's records in near-new shape out from the thrift stores for quarter and enjoy them a lot. Myron was a terrific accordionist.
Same with Art Van Damme.
Yechhhh. Question to the accordion player: Can you play "Far, Far Away?" The farther the better.

Sorry. The only good accordion was Stan Freberg's spoof of Lawrence Welk.
Gvasale ...

I recall a cartoon strip called The Wizard of Id. The king was in the dungeon with the dungeon caretaker when some musical notes came out of one of the torture chambers. The king said ... "Hey, that sounds like accordion music." The caretaker retorted ... "So?" *lol*
Here's Art Van Damme's beautiful rendition of "Early Autumn." The vibes player isn't too shabby either. Enjoy ...

Check out Cassandra Wilson's "Another Country"