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In the interest of full disclosure, I should begin with a confession - the sight of an accordion sends shivers up my spine. As a child my father wanted me to learn the accordion so I could play Italian songs at "football" weddings. (If you're not familiar with the term "football" wedding, ask around.) Having heard one-too-many wheezy versions of "Mala Femmena," I wanted no part.
Coming to the CD Luminescence by Tino Derado, I thought I would have to work hard to be certain that my prejudice against Derado's chosen instrument wouldn't cloud my impression. Less than a minute into the first track and all worries, along with most of my old prejudices about the accordion, had been erased.
"Yemen", the opening track, immediately grabs the listener with an infectious 11/8 time signature. All of the characteristics of Derado's compositions are evident in this first song - lush harmonies, seductive Brazilian rhythms, lyrical melodies. All supported by the gentle yet passionate rhythm team of drummer Roland Schneider and bassist Matt Penman. Derado himself is heard on both accordion and piano.
For several of the tunes on the CD they are joined by guitarist Guilherme Monteiro, who adds a wonderful Brazilian flavor with his bossa nova comping. He produces a wonderful tone from his nylon stringed guitar. Indeed, all the players have lovely tones, captured wonderfully. Sonically, the CD is a pleasure. The playing throughout is first rate, fine solos all around.
For those who may have similar images of the accordion, and can't imagine its function in any type of contemporary setting, let me try to describe Derado's sound. When he plays single lines his sound almost has the breath of a wind instrument. Perhaps the closest thing would be Toots Thielemans on harmonica. When he comps behind someone else's solo it almost has the flavor of a string pad on a synthesizer, yet it still has a certain naturalness most synthesizers have difficulty capturing.
The final track is "Once Upon a Time", co-written by Chiara Civello who adds wonderful wordless vocals, is a highlight. This song would be a hit, were there enough radio stations hip enough to play it. Reminiscent of Jobim's gently simmering portraits, I find I return to this song often. Guitarist Montiero provides the strongest of his many fine solos on this tune. To any fans of Jobim or Astor Piazzolla, this CD is recommended.
Track Listing: Yemen 6:09 - Unbearable Distance 6:26 - Indifferent to Luxury 3:46 - Odd
Birds 7:04 - Fer de Cordoba 3:19 - The Castle 4:46 - Nadya 4:11 - Spring
Is Here 6:21 - Ergo Bibemus 3:51 - Once Upon a Time 7:45