Galliano accomplishes the feat of allowing the sound to float so lightly and airily that one thinks of a spring day in a French pavement café while the last snowflakes of winter whirl around. BERLINER MORGENPOST
There are few musicians that have reinvigorated an instrument as well as a whole musical style, and have brought it to the attention of many new listeners. Richard Galliano has managed this for the accordion and the connected French musette tradition, as a partner to the French chanson stars of the 1970s, a pioneer of the jazz accordion, and the creator of his own style, “New Musette”. A regular fixture at the great international jazz festivals for decades, the accordion and bandoneon player now often performs in the classical concert hall. Richard Galliano regularly appears as a soloist with orchestra, string quartet and quintet, performing his own compositions, new interpretations of classical pieces, and pieces by his mentor and friend Astor Piazzolla.
Born in 1959 in Cannes with Italian ancestry, Richard Galliano began to study the instrument with his father, accordionist Lucien Galliano, from the age of four (father and son published a prize-winning teaching method for the accordion). Whilst still a teenager, he started music studies at the Conservatory in Nice, including music theory and trombone, and found success at competitions. Richard Galliano first discovered jazz when he was about 14 years old and was one of the first to transfer its style to the accordion. In 1973 he met Claude Nougaro in Paris, who made the young musician arranger and conductor of his group. The sound of Richard Galliano’s accordion appears on countless records of popular French artists of the period, including Barbara, Charles Aznavour and Juliette Gréco. At the same time, he remained connected to jazz, and through the 1980s performed with figures including Chet Baker, Toots Thielemanns and Ron Carter.
His totally new musical direction was inspired by Astor Piazzolla. In 1983, Richard Galliano was the solo bandoneon player in a theater project alongside the creator of Tango Nuevo. Astor Piazzolla encouraged him to look to his musical origins, and thus motivated the creation of “New Musette”. Released in 1991, the album of the same name presented his new jazz-inspired look at the French musette in quartet arrangement and became a great success, winning the renowned Prix Django Reinhardt. A series of important albums followed, including New York Tango with George Mraz, Al Foster and Biréli Lagrène, which was awarded the Victoire de la Musique, and the 1997 release Blow Up which was recorded with Michel Portal. He regularly appeared in a trio with Daniel Humair and Jean-Francois Jenny-Clarke, and later with Clarence Penn and Larry Grenadier in New York. In addition, he has repeatedly performed with musicians such as Jan Garbarek, Martial Solal, Hermeto Pascoal, Gary Burton, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Charlie Haden and Wynton Marsalis.
Since the end of the 1990s, he has mostly performed his own compositions and music by Astor Piazzolla in arrangements for orchestra and chamber ensembles, documented in CDs including Piazzolla Forever, released in 2003. Since 2010, he has released four CDs on Deutsche Grammophon, including new interpretations of Johann Sebastian Bach with a classically trained sextet; a recording of film music by Nino Rota with a quartet including trumpeter Dave Douglas; and albums of music by Vivaldi and Mozart, arranged for sextet.
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