Idiomatically conversant with jazz, classical music, world music, and complimented by an unmeasured expertise of the music of Astor Piazzolla, Julien Labro has established himself as one of the leading figures of his generation on both the accordion and the bandoneón.
Gigi Brooks interviews accordionist and composer about his instrument of choice, the Hot Club of Detroit and the music of Django Reinhardt
Accordionist and composer Julien Labro and member of the band Hot Club of Detroit, spent some time talking with me about his life and music career and his rare choice of instrument—the accordion.
Labro shares the band’s desire to pay tribute to the late, great European jazz guitarist, Django Reinhardt in their latest release on Mack Avenue Records, Junction. The album also features the avant-garde sound of Ornette Coleman, blended with the acoustic grooves of Pat Metheny. The sound is bold and modern as he explains in our interview.
Here is a review from our concert in Winnipeg with Hot Club of Detroit, Chris Smith from the Winnipeg Free Press had some really nice comments.
The Hot Club of Detroit is a tight, tight band that swings like crazy through its brand of Gypsy jazz paying tribute to the great guitarist Django Reinhardt. The five-piece band — rhythm and lead guitars, bass, accordion and tenor sax — was augmented by the great Brooklyn-based French singer Cyrille Aimée in its shows as part of the Izzy Asper Jazz Performances series.
From the get-go, lead guitarist Evan Perri and rhythm guitarist Paul Brady were locked into a groove that drove the band through two great sets Saturday afternoon, the first of two concerts that day. That familiar driving force that marked Reinhardt’s style was both a vehicle unto itself and the basis for an afternoon and great ensemble and solo work along with bassist Shawn Conley, accordion player Julien Labro and saxophonist Jon Irabagon.
…Labro plays the chromatic accordion with the style and verve of a rock musician…Read the full review here
Rounds of praise are due a brand new duo that made its Boston debut last night at The Roxbury Latin School. Guitarist Jason Vieaux and accordionist Julien Labro each revealed remarkable levels of individual artistry, and the chemistry between them openly and fully communicated. These along with other elements conspired to bring about that ideal situation where we find ourselves completely engaged, where we find ourselves not just being shown the way, but discover ourselves being a very part of learning along the way. Vieaux and Labro are Artists-in-Residence at Roxbury Latin.
Both Vieaux and Labro refreshed the often staid concert stage with uncommon graciousness, the kind of which comes from an unassuming nature both rare and welcome. Their amply appreciating their listeners as much as their making music together sets the duo’s mien apart from today’s common classical practices of performance. They love what they do and the audience finds itself very much a part of that joy. Labro’s way of putting it last night: “we are thankful to be playing before a small and intimate crowd who knows how to listen.”
Following up It’s About That Time, Nighttown and the eponymous 2006 debut—Hot Club of Detroit expands its sonic and compositional horizons with Junction. Retaining its original lineup of reeds, two guitars, accordion, upright bass and no drums, this is the band’s fourth release for Mack Avenue Records. Read more here
Exotic Brazilian jazz in a lush symphonic setting awaits patrons of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s third annual weekend of outdoor concerts at the Edsel and Eleanore Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores.
Friday night’s Brazilian fare gives way Saturday to a classical program featuring Mendelssohn’s “Italian” Symphony and works by Bizet, Rimsky-Korsakov and Mussorgsky. Both concerts will be conducted by Carolyn Kuan, music director of the Hartford (Conn.) Symphony…..
Sharing Friday’s solo spotlight will be Julien Labro, a French-born Detroiter and master of the accordion-like bandoneon. Metro jazz buffs know Labro, a graduate of Wayne State University, as co-leader of the Django Reinhardt-inspired Hot Club of Detroit.
Labro says he got hooked on the bandoneon the first time he heard the instrument as a boy in France…..
Genre defying vocalist Cassandra Wilson’s latest album, Another Country, represents a strong departure from her previous material focusing largely on guitar-oriented sounds. To foster this new musical direction she again collaborated with jazz guitarist/producer Fabrizio Sotti, with whom she worked with on 2002’s Glamoured.
The two started from scratch in Wilson’s New Orleans home studio composing arrangements and an entire album’s worth of material by combining her lyrics with Sotti’s guitar-centric instrumentation. Sotti says “She is a total and complete musician/artist not just an outstanding voice/instrument.” Wilson and Sotti moved the sessions to Florence, Italy where they sought to keep the recordings spare by working with a minimalist band. The group includes Mino Cinelu on percussion, accordion master Julien Labro, Italian bass player Nicola Sorato and African master percussionist Lekan Babalola which rounded out the album’s sound.
Just a few short weeks ago, we Spektrals had the amazing experience of playing with the multi-talented Julien Labro in a set of tangos by Astor Piazzolla. From word “go” at rehearsal, it was obvious that we were dealing with a musician with an intense and vibrant energy. We started with the languid and yearning “Asleep” from Piazzolla’s “Five Tango Sensations”. Julien’s opening phrase seemed to stretch on and on in an unending breath inward on the bandoneon.
After that, we tackled “Fear” from the same suite, and things got interesting. In the final moments of the fugue-like dance, the quartet was doing a whipped release from a long note. I was playing it loose in rehearsal…apparently far too loose, since the tip of my bow snagged the far corner of my instrument and pulled part of the top of my instrument off! After a bit of a break to deal with that dilemma, we only had more fun playing together. The tunes fell together naturally and we had a fantastic time in performance.
Marcel Khalifé had just finished his first song at Berklee Performance Center Saturday night when the aisles filled with late-coming fans. Khalifé, a celebrated oud master, singer, and composer, watched as ticket-holders roamed through the hall, groping in the dark to find and fill their seats. It went on and on, and Khalifé waited: dressed in black, elegant silver hair framed by a turquoise scarf, the picture of patience…
….Often the music’s mood offered a striking contrast to the words. For “The Violins,” a song of al-Andalus, or medieval Muslim Spain, Omar Guey’s rollicking, Gypsy-flavored violin and Julien Labro’s lively accordion set the pace for a clapping, singing crowd. It sounded like a party, but Darwish’s words were an elegy for a lost homeland: “The violins weep with the Gypsies heading for al-Andalus/ The violins cry over the Arabs departing al-Andalus.”