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Labro Featured in Chamber Music America Magazine ‘Art of…

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.

FULL ARTICLE from  the Chamber Music America magazine

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Premiere of “Dialogues of Love” by Avner Dorman w/…

By Jeffrey Kaczmarczyk

Grand 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.

10665261_873039572714383_7619796119154405329_n (1)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 here

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Interview for Detroit News ‘University Musical Society celebrates the…

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 1236011_863617703656570_2110763999359328775_nfeatured, 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

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Review: Cleveland Orchestra Fridays@7 with Lang Lang and Hot…

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

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Review: ‘Pushing the South American Envelope’

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

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“Chat” -Labro collaborates w/ Grammy Award Winner pianist &…

The creative connection between Fernando OTERO and Julien LABRO has taken form in their collaboration under the name of “CHAT”.

The album contains compositions by both musicians, in which improvisation plays a major role,  exploring countermelodies with their respective instruments creating a solid soundscape.

 

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Labro featured on The Sound of Applause

Dee Perry chats with Emily Anthes author of Frankenstein’s Cat: Cuddling Up to Biotech’s Brave New Beasts who speaks Friday night at The Cleveland Museum of Natural History for the Explorer Series. Plus we share the music of local country crooners Rachel & The Beatnik Playboys who play The Stocker Center in Elyria this weekend.

Dee also welcomes back accordion master Julien Labro to the Key Bank studio for a preview of his performance at Severance Hall for The Cleveland Orchestra’s Fridays@7 series.

Check the interview & performance here

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Labro’s Residency at Oberlin Conservatory of Music

by Jarrett Hoffman

This past Thursday, October 9, Oberlin welcomed acclaimed jazz group Hot Club of Detroit for the first Performance and Improvisation (PI) guest recital of the year. Clonick Hall was packed for the occasion, all seats filled and its back wall lined with listeners. Three impressive student ensembles kicked off the evening, each of them featuring Hot Club of Detroit accordionist Julien Labro. Then, for the second half of the night, the group tore through a set full of stunning solos and duets, particularly from Labro and group founder and lead guitarist Evan Perri. Continue to the full article here

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Pablo Aslan Quintet rejuvenates the work of the great…

By Sarah Ritzmann

Last Monday night, the Pablo Aslan Quintet performed in Brooks-Rogers Auditorium as part of the Ernest Brown World Music Series. The group, headed by Argentinian-born artist Pablo Aslan, delighted a diverse audience ranging from current students to faculty members to members of the local townsfolk with a lively tango-infused jazz. Aslan has performed and recorded with a number of prominent artists including Yo-Yo Ma, Shakira and the Philadelphia Orchestra, among many others. Aslan leads his quintet on the bass, accompanied by pianist Emilio Solla, drummer Eric Doob, Diego Urcola on trumpet and Julien Labro on the bandoneon.

…Labro also had a fantastic solo on the accordina, which is a handheld instrument that produces an even sweeter tone than the bandoneon. Labro entranced the crowd with a masterfully improvisational solo, his fingers moving seemingly at the speed of light to play frankly ridiculous sequences of notes without a single misstep. …

Full review here

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