'Ruby, My Dear': Dazzling Jazz with a French Flair The accordionist Richard Galliano plays what's known as French musette, a rich, energetic blend of European folk music and American jazz. Critic Jim Fusilli says Galliano's new live album, Ruby, My Dear, shows just how dazzling jazz with a French flair can be.
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'Ruby, My Dear': Dazzling Jazz with a French Flair

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'Ruby, My Dear': Dazzling Jazz with a French Flair

Review

Arts & Life

'Ruby, My Dear': Dazzling Jazz with a French Flair

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

Accordion player Richard Galliano plays what's known as French musette. It's an energetic blend of European folk music and American jazz. Galliano is a native of Nice in France, and his music is heavy on the jazz component of the musette blend. Our critic Jim Fusilli has a review of his new live album.

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JIM FUSILLI reporting:

Musette is a burbling stew of influences: dance melodies such as waltzes, polkas, mazurkas and paso dobles, as well as Gypsy music and American jazz. During the last century it became the soundtrack to life in the cafes and dance halls of Paris. On "Ruby, My Dear," a new live album, Richard Galliano retains the traditional elements of musette while adding to it a 1950s American jazz sensibility. His mastery of the accordion and the rhythm section of Clarence Penn and Larry Grenadier propel the music to new heights.

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FUSILLI: Whenever I hear musette, I brace myself for breakneck speed and skittish, hit-snapping solos worthy of bebop. In fact, there is a bebop tune on this album. But Galliano and the group settle in nicely on a couple of ballads, giving "Ruby, My Dear" depth and texture. A down-tempo interpretation of a piece by Erik Satie, who composed his early piano works in Paris as musette was developing, finds a strong, undulating groove.

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FUSILLI: There are a few missteps on "Ruby, My Dear." The title track by Thelonious Monk is fat with reedy swells that it sounds like Galliano's playing a roller-skating rink organ. But Richard Galliano is a savvy composer as well as a nimble accordionist, and he makes his marriage of musette and jazz something of substance. Galliano dazzles as he remains true to musette and jazz. The album is a cross-cultural winner by a wide margin.

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NORRIS: The new album from Richard Galliano is called "Ruby, My Dear." Our reviewer is Jim Fusilli.

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MELISSA BLOCK (Host): You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

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