Joe "Sonny" Barbato is a pioneering voice in jazz accordion. He is one of Boston's finest musicians, which is evident on Sonny's exhilarating, charming and fresh new release "Crackerjack." As an established sideman in New York City and Boston, "Crackerjack" represents Joe's first time out as leader.
Born and raised in Boston, MA, at nine years of age Joe began taking weekly lessons with accordion master Louis Bregoli. Sonny played the accordion until he was about thirteen years old, and then decided to begin studying the piano instead. He studied with jazz pianist Mike Marra and later attended Berklee College of Music, as well as the New England Conservatory. Joe then decided to become serious about playing the accordion again. He began to take the instrument on certain gigs and projects that called for the sound. He was beginning to find his voice on the accordion. He broadened his range of experience playing the instrument in pop, rock, [and] country, as well as jazz, this helped him to become diverse on the accordion and find his own sound.
Sonny has toured Europe as well as the United States, and he continues to work as a freelance musician and teacher in New York City as well as Boston. He has performed at festivals and concerts with Ravi Coltrane, Eddie Harris, Stanley Turrentine, Donald Harrison, Joe Locke, Jerry Bergonzi, Jeff "Tain" Watts, David Sanchez, and Larry Coryell. Joe has played accordion on over 30 recordings that range in style from country to jazz. Some of the artists he has recorded alongside with are Luciana Souza, Lori Mckenna, Kenny Barron, Duke Levine, George Schuller, David Budway, Bobby Previt, Jenifer Jackson, Ben Sher, Marvin Sewell, and many more.
After his extensive work as a sideman, Joe decided that it was time for him to take on the role of leader. Joe believes that music is about the entire group as opposed to one person. The “Crackerjack” project is really a team effort. Also featured on "Crackerjack" is Joe's long time friend pianist Dave Budway and Jimmy Ponder on guitar. Budway and Barbato penned seven of the eight songs on "Crackerjack.” There are no edits or fixes. It is all an exact representation of the actual moment that it was recorded which accounts for “Crackerjacks” fresh and exciting feel.
An increasingly significant performer in the musical community, Joe "Sonny" Barbato is ready to bring his accordion and his unique sound to the forefront of the jazz world.