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 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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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