The accordion has only really found a comfortable spot in the jazz world during the past two decades, and that is largely due to Richard Galliano. Born in 1950 in France, he started playing accordion when he was 4, and also learned piano. He was particularly intrigued by trumpeter Clifford Brown’s solos, learning to play many of them on the accordion. Galliano studied with his father before enrolling at the Nice Conservatory, and won many international accordion competitions, playing classical music. He graduated in 1969, worked locally, and in 1973 relocated to Paris. For three years he was the conductor, arranger and composer for Claude Nougaro’s orchestra. Galliano also worked with pop singers and on Voce A Mano he played duets with singer Allain Leprest. In 1983 he began an association with Astor Piazzolla that lasted until the innovative tango composer’s death in 1992.
By the early 1990s, Galliano’s reputation was rising in the international jazz world. He has worked along the way with such top jazz musicians as clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Michel Portal, Chet Baker, Joe Zawinul, Biréli Lagrène, Eddy Louiss, Philip Catherine, Charlie Haden, Didier Lockwood, Enrico Rava, Toots Thielemans, Gil Goldstein, Jan Garbarek, Paquito D’Rivera, Michel Petrucciani, Martial Solal, Richard Bona and others. Since 1993, Galliano has recorded a series of notable albums for the Dreyfus label and currently he is recording for Milan Records. He also maintained a regular trio for five years in the mid-1990s with bassist Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark and drummer Daniel Humair. A decade later he toured in a new trio with drummer Clarence Penn and either Larry Grenadier or Scott Colley on bass, recording in 2006 with the trio plus Gary Burton. Galliano remains an innovator on his instrument, blazing an alternative for the accordion.