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Hot Club of Detroit: Musical wizardry on display

By Debra Penberthy

On Sunday, August 10, the Hot Club of Detroit wowed the audience at the Levitt Pavilion with their absolute mastery of their craft. They seemed to bend time and melodic space with their musical wizardry, particularly of the founder/lead guitar/composer, Evan Perri and button accordion player/composer, Julien Labro. Continue the full review by following this link

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Review: San Jose Jazz Festival delivers serious fun

By David Becker

Many other jazz festivals seem to encourage the musicians to act like brain surgeons, egging on their artistic sensibilities and treating the work as high art. Not the San Jose Jazz Festival, which just wound up its 25th annual blowout.

Hot Club of Detroit: At least something in the Motor City still works! One of the least doctrinaire of the many Django Reinhardt tribute bands circling the globe, this quartet takes a more pan-European approach to its mostly original songs, not least because the usual violin spot has been replaced by accordionist Julien Labro, who turned out to be the star of the show. Lead guitarist Paul Brady was no slouch, picking out evocative and incredibly nimble leads. But Labro’s solo turns were truly heroic. And when was the last time the words “jaw-dropping accordion solo” passed anyone’s lips at jazz show? Read the full review here

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Byblos hypnotized by Khalife, orchestra, ensemble & soloists

BYBLOS, Lebanon: Oud virtuoso, vocalist and composer Marcel Khalife brought the Byblos International Festival audience to its feet Thursday evening. For more than two hours, the spectators witnessed a night of outstanding instrumental solos, performed alongside mass choral and solo voice performances and orchestral compositions.

…. Accordionist and bandoneon-player Julien Labro also delivered and absolutely hypnotizing solo. Fingers moving like the wings of a hummingbird, his eyes shut, Labro infused the evening’s music with Latino grace notes.

Full article here

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Review: Labro/Vieaux @ The Cleveland International Classical Guitar Festival

By Mike Telin
June 3, 2014

The evolution of classical guitar music continued at 7:30 when guitarist Jason Vieaux was joined by his frequent collaborator Julien Labro on bandoneón, accordion and accordina. One always hopes the final concert of a festival will be something special that sends audiences home in anticipation of the next edition and Vieaux and Labro did not disappoint.

Given the two began their musical partnership with their 2011 celebrated recording on the Azica label titled The Music of Astor Piazzolla, it was fitting for them to begin their program with a work by the father of Tango Nuevo. Composed in 1986, Histore du Tango consists of four movements that describe the evolution of Tango. Vieaux and Labro performed the first, “Bordel 1900” and the fourth, “Concert d’Aujourd’hui”.

Originally scored for flute and guitar, the piece is often performed in various instrumental combinations (guitar and bandoneón for this performance) Now for my dirty little secret: I have always hated this piece. That was, until last Sunday night. In the hands of two accomplished musicians who are well-versed in both classical and jazz, Vieaux and Labro’s performance captured the essence of Tango Nuevo. As they would throughout the evening the dynamic duo performed from one musical mind – all unison technical passages, no matter how fast, were perfectly in sync. And they were obviously having a lot of fun during some extended improvisations. Keep reading the full review here

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The next accordion star: Julien Labro

by Howard Reich
May 13, 2014

The accordion doesn’t get much respect in the United States – not since “The Lawrence Welk Show” and uncounted polka bands placed the instrument well outside the realm of chic.

Nevertheless, the glorious squeezebox holds a noble tradition in jazz, with artists such as Art Van Damme, Leon Sash, Guy Klucevsek, Richard Galliano and Astor Piazzolla (playing bandoneon) proving the instrument can convey lightning virtuosity and profound musicality as eloquently as any other.

The latest and most promising addition to this regal list is Julien Labro, whom Chicagoans have heard dispensing his wizardry in various club and concert halls but never quite the way he does in a surprisingly seductive new album, “From This Point Forward” (Azica). Playing with Chicago’s Spektral Quartet, which will celebrate the release with him Wednesday night at City Winery, Labro emerges as a triple threat: brilliant technician, poetic melodist and cunning arranger. Read the full article here.

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Review: Beethoven Festival Abounds With Art

Review: Beethoven Festival, Merit School of Music Sept 10, 14, 2013
by Elliot Mandel @Cello_guy

Three quarters of the way through their set of South American music with accordionist Julien Labro at the Merit School of Music Saturday evening, the members of the Spektral Quartet lean back and put down their instruments – violinist Aurelien Pederzoli takes a seat in the front row.  Labro begins a meandering improvisation before launching into a rollicking cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Isn’t She Lovely” on solo squeezebox.  In a small way, this is the magic of the 2013 Beethoven Festival.  The audience – some seated around the quintet, some leaning against the bar, at least one listener lounges in the tepee in the far corner – is entranced by the music and ensconced in floor-to-ceiling artwork.

Wait, why is an accordionist playing Stevie Wonder at something called the Beethoven Festival?  Who cares.  “Music is music,” said Alban Berg to George Gershwin (thanks Alex Ross).  No ensemble in Chicago embodies this idea more than the Spektral Quartet, which regularly programs Mozart, Haydn, and Beethoven alongside the ensemble’s contemporaries such as Marcos Balter and Chris Fisher-Lochhead.

Read the full review here

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Labro’s seemingly nonchalant virtuosity…

Review: Exuberant jazz from the Hot Club of Detroit

by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune

There may be hope yet for the great city of Detroit.

If it can drive through bankruptcy proceedings the way one of its leading jazz ensembles powered through its first show Friday night at the Green Mill Jazz Club, there could be better times ahead….

But the Hot Club of Detroit pushes out at conventional definitions of gypsy jazz with edgy, original repertoire and an aggressive, hard-charging strategy for ensemble improvisation. Granted, the band’s rough-and-tumble character does not convey the elegance of Grappelli’s silken violin lines riding Reinhardt’s chugging guitar chords. Yet there are other pleasures to be derived from its decidedly brawnier style.

Read the full review here

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Stylistic Maneuvers

Can’t wait to continue my collaboration with Spektral Quartet, we have some dates coming up this Summer & Fall and recording a CD in late September. 

STYLISTIC MANEUVERS

Posted by  Wulliman on Jul 17, 2013

I’ve never been the kind of musician (or music fan) who feels the need to be exclusive in my tastes.  While it may surprise some of you who are more familiar with me writing about Haas or Carter, I’m just as likely to listen to Ke$ha or Chick Corea’s “My Spanish Heart” without the slightest tinge of irony.

If I spend too long playing strictly concert hall music, I get a bit itchy.  I’m certainly listening to other stuff, like my recent obsession from an amazing super-group.

That’s why the the beginnings of our collaboration with Julien Labro for an album on Azica Records have brought me musical energy just when I thought I was burnt out from a long concert season.

Rest of the post here

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