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Accordion notes
T HAVE TO HAND a very interesting disc.
1 It is an extended player by virtuoso Martin Lukins on HMV—“Martin Lukins Accordion Magic“. One cannot but be impressed by the consummate skill of this man from Middlesex. His finger-work shows strength, control and flexibility to an almost unbelievable degree, and he generally re-\eals a fund of invention—albeit framed within the limits of his particular style.
On the whole, this recording presents almost exclusively the Lukins of Workers Plautime, careering supremely and easily through theme after theme, rather like an express train taking on and discharging a variety of passengers.
The work, typical of Martin, is immaculate and his utter domination is mightily impressive. But I feel that from the musical point of view he does tend to dominate, rather than express, the various themes.
I think this programme would have benefited by the interspersion of one or two ■atmospheric- slow numbers. Martin is quite capable in this direction—I know from first hand. I shared a long train journey to Italy and back during which he whiled away much pleasant time between Basle and Chiasso playing, sitting on the arm of a Pullman seat. Not very comfortable, per-
haps, but Martin wouldn’t even notice such things when performing. He gets right down into what he is doing, and you get the feeling that you and everything around him have sort of faded out. His eyes just look right through you to a long way away. Like what Dickens once described as being a “line surveyed through”. He’s really gone. And what comes out is accordion-playing to the nth degree.
Of course, this is a plain accordion record, with no backing or rhythm section, and this renders great difficulty to any artist in putting over anything but himself principally. Then, again, the record is styled •'Martin Lukins Accordion Magic”, so this is fair enough.
Having said all this, let me now acknowledge that this is a most invigorating record, and one which will delight Martin’s many fans since it includes several items which he has veritably classicalised in his own style.
Rhythmic style
I have always thoroughly enjoyed his “Wedding Of The Painted Doll”. With its eassotto mtro. and fine rhythmic style, there is something extremely satisfying about it. The rhythm doubles up for the final variation, then becomes a triple for the middle eight of this section, and then has a key change (the second one in this solo) for the final recap. There is some nice accordion jazz in this item, though it shares place with accordion variation to become an excellent accordion solo (what a pity there couldn’t have been some backing!).
“Embraceable You” also has the inimitable Lukins attack and you can hear that
same left-hand express puffing away busily in the background, carrying the theme most determinedly. I like this piece, but oh, I love the finale. Lukins at his best.
Ethel Smith it was who put “Tico Tico” on the map, and I thought in my young days that she could certainly tickle that piece. But Martin really steams it up on this recording—adding, of course, his own variations. For all the diversity of his technical ramifications, and the speed at which they are achieved, there is an air of facility about this episode which enables one to appreciate without bewilderment— to feel that one is not just being blinded by science. But then—what do they say is the mark of the master? “He makes it appear easy”.
Every professional accordion-player must, of course, have a go at “Tea For Two”— it has become almost as compelling and necessary as a thesis to a graduate. Martin is no exception and his version supplies, in my humble opinion, the best jazz to be heard on the whole recording. It is well worth listening to on this basis alone— and is how I like my accordion jazz. He interrupts it, however, with a brief spell of plain accordion gymnastics which to the non-accordionist may tend to dazzle rather than to endear. But this is, after all, an accordion recording and the solo may fairly be awarded high distinction both technically and musically.
As before
“Zinearesca” and a new rendering of an old favourite "Dark Eyes” complete the collection, with the mixture generally as before.
Lukins' phrasing and dynamics are above reproach, and he uses the warm cassotto sound to great advantage. He makes it speak very rapidly at times yet retains its firm, authoritative tone with perfect equality at all tempi.
His accentuation is worth more than the cost of this disc to any student and is clear and inspired. Be careful, however, when listening to the sostenuto passages played on one reed only to allow for the effects of the rather percussive left-hand rhythm on the right-hand notes. There are some unavoidable fluctuations in these— another reason why I would have liked to hear some rhythmic backing to set the soloist free, as it were.
A good disc and an exciting one. I should get it if I were you.
OUR window cleaner at home travels around in a Ford Zephyr, with his ladders and a bucket tied to the roof-rack. My wife's reaction is that he is making too much profit. My own feeling in this matter is that, by having a first-class vehicle, his efficiency and reliability are increased, re-suiting in a better service.
The same applies to an electronic organ. Bv buying the best you possibly can, you are also buying stability and reliability, and anybody whose living depends on playing deserves this at least.
But what does the inexperienced purchaser look for? The first thing he has to decide is whether the overall tone is what he wants. Every make of organ has its own particular brand of tonal quality, and whereas a few mat be similar, others might well be considered more suitable for secular music than rhythm and blues, or for big band backing than group work. So decide what kind of sound you want before you start looking around.
Secondly, make sure the organ is sufft-
ficiently versatile to give you a reasonable number of tonal variations. It should have 16', 8', and 4' tabs at least, and if possible 2' as well, to give you plenty of ‘top’. Most makes have what is known as a quint or 5y. This sounds five notes above the one actually being played, and gives an edge when used with the normal tabs. Some have a •twelfth’ or 2}', which sounds an octave higher than the quint, and therefore gives greater edge.
The pedals should have 16' and 8' tabs available—the 8' to simulate the string bass, and the 16' for the more resonant effect. Where an organ is fitted with ‘sustain’, this can be used with great effect in combination with the 8' pedal, and can sound exactly like the plucking and echo of the double bass strings. Sustain on the keyboard tabs can also give a more mellow sound when required, especially where certain effects are being used, such as vibro-phone or harpsichord.
Make sure the swell-pedal (or volume control) is balanced. In other words, see
that when you remove your foot it stays where it is and doesn’t spring back to the closed position. Look for distortion, but don’t be unreasonable about this. Remember that an organ is built to be used sensibly, and unnecessary overloading can lead to vibration. If the volume you require is not available on a particular model, then the organ is too small and you need something bigger. It is always better to have something in reserve after you have obtained the volume required.
As far as reliability and stability are concerned—these are dangerous questions to ask. Every salesman will tell you that his product doesn’t go out of tune, doesn’t cypher, doesn’t require more than “an annual check-over” (how often have I heard this!), and will assure you that the method of tonal generation is the best. Now, there are sufficient organs and organists about these days, using a sufficient variety of makes, to give you an unbiased opinion.
(<Continued on page 37)
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