Richard Galliano and Tangaria Quartet

Richard GallianoThe annual Ottawa International Jazz Festival just wrapped up and one of the biggest hits was French accordion virtuoso Richard Galliano. Performing with his Tangaria Quartet, Galliano’s concert was “as thrilling a performance as was heard” throughout the entire festival, according to a review in the Ottawa Citizen. Galliano “reeled off one exhilarating song after another,” allowing the audience “to lose themselves in his brilliance.” Not a bad review, I’d say.

Born in Cannes in 1950, Richard Galliano studied at a conservatory as a youth, but quickly changed his musical devotion to jazz after hearing (and memorizing the solos of) jazz trumpeter Clifford Brown. Galliano set out to establish the accordion’s reputation in jazz, becoming a sought-after accompanist and soloist. Astor Piazzolla invited him to be the bandoneon soloist at the Comédie Française production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” starting a close friendship that lasted until Piazzolla’s death in 1992.

More recently, Galliano has become known for a style he calls “New Musette” — a fusion of styles ranging from samba and salsa to waltz and tango. Regardless of what he’s playing, though, it’s always with unparalleled skill and passion. Here’s a fantastic video of Galliano performing Piazzolla’s “Libertango” solo:

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