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Rob Burger: Lost Photograph

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Rob Burger’s accordion has been heard with Bill Frisell and on John Zorn’s soundtrack projects as well as in his own Tin Hat Trio, a freethinking chamber jazz group. Lost Photograph falls under Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture series, although the 14 tracks aren’t radical so much as they are exotic, going from tangos to minor-key Eastern European melodies with a swinging rhythm section guiding them.

Burger changes instruments on virtually every track, few of which clock in over four minutes, so the mood never stays the same for very long. Along with accordion, he plays pianos of the acoustic, prepared and toy varieties, pump organ, music boxes, bass harmonica and a bank of vintage keyboards. Bassist Greg Cohen-who has played with Tom Waits, Lou Reed and Zorn’s Masada project-and drummer Kenny Wollesen round out the band.

Regular shifts in mood and tempo add rather than detract from Lost Photograph, which, true to its name, evokes images of forgotten characters or scenes. The minor-key piano solo “The Cantor & His Grandson” could be the soundtrack to 1940s footage of the title characters. “Arturo, the Aqua Boy” sounds like the soundtrack to a scene in an old curiosity shop, with Burger’s toy piano accompanied by chimes and arco bass scrapes. His accordion work is especially expressive, from the traditional “Aveenu Malkenu,” where notes rise and fall with the grace of a violin, to “Constantinople,” in which it simmers over a driving 6/8 rhythm.