Excelsior (

Not your usual fare, to be sure, but a great record for any love of the accordion, the violin and the skewed sensibility. Excelsior is Evan Harlan on the piano accordion , Mimi Rabson on violin, Claudio Ragazzi on electric guitar and Grant Smith on drums. They attack Dmitri Shostikovich, Samuel Barber, Igor Stravinsky and Francis Poulenc with a sense of humor, an aggressive production and a generally "bad" attitude. Harlan has a great attack on the accordion and squeezes surprising and unexpected lines out of music more associated with a sedated Carnegie Hall audience than the nightclub smokehouse he evokes. The interplay between the members of the group is tight and intuitive, leading the music through some real surprises. Harlan arranged almost all the pieces here, and his timing is superb, his ability to minimize and expose the melodies quite strong. The music runs from straight readings to almost unrecognizable hatchet jobs, all done with wit and style. -CF


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