Face to Face
Forget the accordion jokes. Richard Galliano, a Frenchman of Italian ancestry and a new star of the instrument in Europe, and the long-established French organist Eddy Louiss make beautiful music together. It has feeling, artistry, integrity and admirable technique. Call it jazz with an Old World flavor. Galliano, to draw an analogy, seems to be the Stephane Grappelli of the accordion.
Originals comprise the bulk of Face to Face, with a couple of Brazilian tunes and Benny Golson's "I Remember Clifford" added. The players swap lead and accompaniment roles with seamless continuity. The tonal similarities between the instruments also contribute to this unity. Louiss often walks the pedals for a bass line, but there's no shortage of rhythmic interest or motivation otherwise.
The stepping melody of Louiss' "Tribute to Joe Diorio" is one of the more challenging tunes. The performers latch on to the Brazilian tunes "Beija-Flor" and "Berimbau/Sermao" without a trace of cultural awkwardness. Likewise, their reading of "I Remember Clifford" is heartfelt and universal in meaning.