Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Jazz Instrumentalists – Accordion – Richard Galliano

Welcome to the new series featuring jazz instrumentalists. We have focused on the vocalists in previous posts, but jazz has many elements and the artistry of the instrumentalists are key to great music.

The first instrument is the accordion and over the next two posts we shall be exploring to of the most highly regarded performers in jazz.

The Accordion – Richard Galliano Accordion and bandoneon virtuoso,

“In the past, there never seemed to have been one great artist associated with the accordion, an instrument that, because of its connotations, seemed as far removed from swing as it is possible to be. Then along came Richard Galliano, fired by an unrivalled determination to share his conviction that the accordion was worthy have a place at the heart of jazz alongside the saxophone and trumpet. Inspired by the admiration he felt for his friend Astor Piazzolla, creator of the Tango Nuevo, Galliano succeeded not just in doing this, but with his “new musette” style managed to breathe new life into a thoroughly French tradition that seemed to have got stuck”  Vincent Bessieres

Richard Galliano was born in Cannes in 1950, the son of Italian- born accordion teacher Lucien Galliano. Understandably Richard was introduced to the instrument at an early age and was only four years old when he began to play. He was enrolled in the Nice Conservatoire and studied music and the trombone, and at age 14, he was introduced to jazz and in particular the music of Clifford Brown.

“I copied all the choruses of Clifford Brown, impressed by his tone and his drive, his way of phrasing over the thunderous playing of Max Roach“.

Galliano was surprised to find that the accordion was rarely incorporated into jazz composition and set out to find out more about the top accordionists in the world in South American, Italy and the United States. This included Brazilian Severino Dias de Oliveira, known as Sivuca, Italian Felice Fugazza and Americans Tommy Gumina and Art Van Damme.

In the meantime Richard Galliano was impressing with his own playing and twice won the first prize in the “World Accordion cap competition” in Spain in 1966 and France in 1967. The Spanish competition introduced him to the compositions of Israeli accordionist Yehuda Oppenheimer. It was a relationship and collaboration that would last until Yehuda’s death in 2012.

In 1973, Galliano moved up to Paris where he worked with French singer and songwriter Claude Nougaro and spent the next three years arranging and composing alongside leading jazz musicians. He regularly played on recordings by Charles Aznavour and Juliette Greco as well as on film scores. In the 1980s he played alongside Chet Baker, Steve Potts, Cellist Jean- Charles Capon and Ron Carter. He also met and was influenced by

In the 1990s Galliano returned to his French roots and the traditional compositions for the accordion such as the Tango, however he updated the style by working to bring new rhythm and harmony that reflected his love of jazz.

He showcased this in 1991 with the album “New Musette” recorded with Aldo Romano (jazz drummer), Pierre Michelot (double bass) and Philip Catherine (Belgian jazz guitarist). The album won Richard Galliano the Académie du Jazz’s Django Reinhardt Prize for “French musician of the year” in 1993.

Libertango” is a composition by tango composer Astor Piazzolla, recorded and published in 1974 in Milan. The title is a *portmanteau merging “Libertad” (Spanish for liberty) and “Tango,” symbolizing Piazzolla’s break from Classiscal Tango to Tango Nuevo. In this piece, Galliano proves himself a sophisticated, spirited, and free-flowing improviser armed with a formidable piano technique and a vivid harmonic vocabulary, tinted with classical harmonies but grounded firmly in the tango tradition.

*portmanteau is a linguistic blend of words, in which parts of multiple words or their sounds are combined into a new word.

In 1996 Richard Galliano went to the United States and recorded “New York Tango” with George Mraz (jazz bassist and alto saxophonist), Al Foster (jazz drummer) and Biréli Lagrène (French Jazz guitarist), a disc that later won him a Victoire de la Musique prize.

This has led to an outstanding international reputation collaborating with musicians from all music fields including classical, performing with orchestras, as a solo performer and a recording artist.

He is also the author, with his father of a training method for the accordion which won an SACEM (Society of Authors, Composers and Publishers of Music) prize in 2009.

During his long and prolific career, Richard Galliano Biography recorded more than 50 albums under his name. He also collaborates with an impressive number of prestigious artists and musicians, including Astor Piazolla, George Mraz, Brigitte Fontaine, Al Foster, Juliette Greco, Charles Aznavour, Ron Carter, Chet Baker, Enrico Rava, Martial Solal, Miroslav Vitouš, Trilok Gurtu, Jan Garbarek, Michel Petrucciani, Michel Portal, Eddy Louiss, Biréli Lagrène, Sylvain Luc, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Ivan Paduart, Anouar Brahem, Wynton Marsalis, and Toots Thielemans.

Autumn Leaves,” originally “Les Feuilles Mortes”(literally “The Dead Leaves”), with music by Hungarian-French composer Joseph Kosma and lyrics by French poet Jacques Prévert, was adapted into English by Johnny Mercer. This is a very special and deeply musical performance by the Richard Galliano Tangaria Quartet, played with joy, abandon and much virtuosity. The fluidity of this quartet’s technique, the depth of its tone and the intellectual sophistication of its improvisations firmly established this quartet, with Galliano as its leader, as an accomplished and polished jazz act. Moreover, Galliano demonstrates mastery in executing beautiful and intricate changes full of jazz feeling.

Buy the music of Richard Galliano:

Official Website:
YouTube Channel: Richard Galliano YouTube
Additional sources :

About William Price King

William Price King is an American jazz singer, crooner, and composer.

His interest in music began at an early age when he studied piano and clarinet in high school. At Morehouse College in Atlanta where he grew up, he sang in the Glee Club and studied classical music. After graduation he went off to the Yale School of Music where he earned a Masters degree. From there he journeyed to New York where he created a jazz trio ‘Au Naturel’ which performed in some of the hottest venues in Manhattan including gigs on Broadway and the famous ‘Rainbow Room.’ These gigs opened doors for performances in Montreal and a European tour.

While touring Europe he met a lovely French lady, Jeanne Maïstre, who, a year later became his wife. King left the group ‘Au Naturel’ and settled in the south of France where he started a new life on the French Riviera, opening his own music school – the “Price King Ecole Internationale de Chant.” He has had the pleasure over the years of seeing many of his students excel as singers on a professional level, and some going on to become national celebrities. He continues to coach young singers today, in his spare time.

His debut jazz album was entitled “Home,” and was a collection of contemporary compositions he composed, with lyrics written by his wife Jeanne King. His second album was a Duo (Voice and Guitar) with Eric Sempé on the guitar. This album included original songs as well as well known standards from contemporary jazz and pop artists. The “King-Sempé” duo toured France and thrilled audiences for more than three years before going their separate ways. King has formed a new duo with French/Greek guitarist Manolis, and is now exploring new ideas, in a smooth jazz/soul/folk direction.

In addition to singing and composing, King has been collaborating with author Sally Cronin over the past few years on her blog “Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life,” with the series “A Man And His Music – Jazz, Contemporary, Classical, and Legends” and now, the “William Price King Music Column.” Working with author Sally Cronin has been an exhilarating experience in many ways and has brought a new dimension to King’s creative life. King has also created a micro blog, “Improvisation,” which features and introduces mostly jazz artists from across the jazz spectrum who have made considerable contributions in the world of jazz; and also artwork from painters who have made their mark in the world of art. This micro blog can be found on Tumblr.

His vocal mentors are two of the greatest giants in jazz, Nat King Cole and Mel Tormé. King has a distinctive wide-ranging voice which displays a remarkable technical facility and emotional depth.

William Price King on Tumblr – IMPROVISATION

Connect with William

Regular Venue 

You can find all of the Music Column series in this directory:

Thank you for dropping in and hope you will tune in again next week for another Jazz instrumentalist.


10 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – The Music Column with William Price King – Jazz Instrumentalists – Accordion – Richard Galliano

  1. Oh, this was fascinating! I never really thought of accordion with Jazz but after listening to autumn leaves and remembering some old Charles Aznavour tunes with that jazzy French rhythm it makes perfect sense! 🙂 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Smorgasbord Blog Magazine – Weekly Round Up – Music, Books, Food and End of Summer Party with amazing Guests, | Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life

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