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.
By J.C. Lee When Julien Labro was a young boy in Rodez, France, he never thought his accordion would take him around the world. But in the last year, the 34-year-old’s music has taken him throughout the Middle East, to Kuwait and Qatar, from China to Brazil and more. And this weekend, Labro will travel to northern Indiana to play his accordion as part of the Hot Club of Detroit at the Elkhart Jazz Festival. The journey all started with a television show. The accordion is a common instrument in traditional...read the rest here
By John von Rhein New albums find Chicago classical musicians, ensembles and composers blazing new artistic paths, moving into unusual areas of the repertory, refusing to be pigeonholed. Here is a sampling of some of the more significant recent releases that reflect this trend: "From This Point Forward." Julien Labro and Spektral Quartet (Azica): What hath Astor Piazzolla's nuevo tango revolution wrought? You can hear music by some of the Argentinian tango master's successors in this album of tangy instrumental arrangements, crafted and engagingly performed by the virtuosic Julien Labro (playing bandoneon and accordions) and the Spektral Quartet. Hang on tight as you plunge into the title track, Fernando Otero's "De Ahora en Mas," a frisky ride on a hurtling Latin roller coaster. No more enjoyable crossover release has come my way so far this year. Read the rest of list!
By Patricia Gendrey Première mondiale d’une pièce d’un compositeur français à Katara Julien Labro est accordéoniste, compositeur et arrangeur. Son concerto pour accordéon et orchestre – Apricity – sera joué pour la première fois à Katara, samedi 11 avril. Il nous parle de son travail et du concert de cette fin de semaine. Qatar Actu : Quel est votre parcours ? Julien Labro : Je suis né en France, dans l’Aveyron, à Rodez. J’ai vécu aux États-Unis pendant une dizaine d’années. Je vis aujourd’hui à Toronto. J’ai commencé l’accordéon à l’âge de 9 ans en regardant une émission à la télévision qui m’a émerveillé. J’ai suivi un cursus emménagé en musique et des études classiques au conservatoire de Marseille. Cette formation m’a ouvert de nouveaux horizons. J’ai alors découvert le jazz et des artistes comme Charlie Parker ou Miles Davis. C’est devenu une passion. J’utilisais tout mon argent de poche pour acheter le maximum de disques, ce qui a contribué à m’ouvrir l’oreille. J’ai trouvé dans le jazz une liberté que je ne retrouvais pas dans le monde classique. J’ai alors réuni bon nombre d’informations sur l’improvisation, l’histoire du jazz. J’ai découvert d’autres artistes comme Herbie Hancock ou John Coltrane. J’étais fasciné, à tel point que j’ai pris la décision de poursuivre, après le baccalauréat, mes études en Amérique du Nord pour être plus près des sources du jazz. FULL INTERVIEW HERE
By Paul Brady After some serendipitous beginning, a forward-thinking string quartet and a composer/accordionist with deep jazz cred are collaborating on new repertoire for their hybrid ensemble. Lake Michigan's South Shore is dotted with steel mills and meat-packing plants, rail yard and highways – their paths all leading to Chicago. That quick-and-easy thoroughfare along the country's rust belt made it convenient for composer/accordionist Julien Labro to travel to Chicago from Detroit for years of gigs before settling in Toronto. Often invited to perform with internationally known Chicago musicians, such as the Brazilian guitarist Paulinho Garcia, or the Polish jazz vocalist Grazyna Auguscik, Labro logged the hours in Chicago; and the city's limelit jazz scene helped establish the French-born reed-bellower as this country's A-list start of the often misunderstood instrument. Please turn to Page 25 of Chamber Music America magazine for full article.
Little warm up before session with pianist extraordinaire Fernando Otero
By No mandolin appeared in "Dialogues of Love," but accordionist Julien Labro and saxophonist Amanda Heim, plus baritone soloist Lee Poulis, were key players in a work of vast undertaking, inspired by the topic of love in its many permutations, elucidated in texts in four languages spanning two millennium. Dorman's imagination, which absorbs, synthesizes, and kicks out something new, is up for the challenge. He achieves authenticity by drawing upon ethnic and folk music, bits of jazz syncopation, a hint of rock rhythms, and a generous serving from the classical canon of music. Full article & review hereGrand Rapids Symphony music director David Lockington led an epic night of epic music making with choral and instrumental music of the highest caliber. The Grammy Award-nominated orchestra performed a work by a composer of a Grammy Award-nominated recording. Mandolinist Avi Avital and the Metropolis Ensemble getting the nomination for Best Soloist with Orchestra for their recording for Dorman's Mandolin Concerto.
By Patrick Dunn Having presented popular shows last season featuring the ukulele, mandolin and bass saxophone, University Musical Society programming director Michael Kondziolka knew just what obscure instrument he wanted to highlight next. “We had a lot of positive response to most of the concerts on that ... curatorial line that ran through our season,” Kondziolka says. “So it was very much in my mind that we still needed to do something with the accordion.” The instrument will receive its moment in the spotlight Saturday at Hill Auditorium in an “accordion summit” titled “The Big Squeeze.” Several individual accordionists will be featured, as well as the Accordion Virtuosi of Russia, a 35-member ensemble. Kondziolka says he envisioned the performance as a tour through the cultural history of the accordion, with the Virtuosi as “our accordion house band.” “It’s pretty shocking that almost every culture has their own manifestation of the accordion, which in many ways is just a portable organ,” he says. “So it’s really fun, when you start thinking about the accordion and how it manifests itself in different cultures, how you can put an evening together.” Hot Club of Detroit member Julien Labro will represent the South American heritage of the accordion and its “cousin,” the bandoneon, which features heavily in the music of Argentine tango legend Astor Piazzolla. Labro, who is also co-curating the summit, recalls first being “mesmerized” by the accordion when he saw it on TV at age nine. Full interview here
by Carlyn Kessler On Friday, October 10, The Cleveland Orchestra presented its first Fridays@7 concert of the 2014-15 season. Creating a more informal concertgoing experience, these concerts feature an earlier start time and shorter duration bookended by pre- and post-concert non-classical music, organized by world percussion luminary Jamey Haddad. The Fridays@7 series embodies these recent developments and is undoubtedly a measure of their success. “The Fridays@7 concerts target a younger, more hip audience and are played without intermission,” wrote TCO associate principal cello Richard Weiss in an email. The pre-concert “starter” begins at 6:00 pm in Reinberger Chamber Hall. The October 10 show highlighted Haddad along with accordion virtuoso Julien Labro and harmonica legend Howard Levy performing together in a unique musical collaboration. Read the full review here
By Bruce Hodges Inexplicably making their New York debut—only because this cracking, Chicago-based ensemble has been in existence since 2010—the Spektral Quartet packed SubCulture for a concert celebrating its newest recording, From This Point Forward (on Azica Records). Adding to the evening’s many delights was accordionist Julien Labro (who also arrangedthe works on the album). But like many virtuosos, Labro also plays related instruments: the bandoneón and the accordina—the latter similar to a melodica, but with buttons replacing the keyboard. Continue to read the full review here