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date: 18 October 2019

Accordion in Jazz (jazz)locked

  • Alyn Shipton
  •  and Barry Kernfeld


A portable keyboard instrument of the reed organ family. It consists of a bass button keyboard played with the left hand, which also operates a bellows, and a treble keyboard (with piano keys or buttons) played by the right. The instrument is suspended by straps from the player’s shoulders.

The accordion has a long but undistinguished history in jazz. The obscure player Charles Melrose provides an early example of jazz accordion solos on the recording Wailing Blues/Barrel House Stomp (1930, Voc. 1503) by the Cellar Boys, a sextet that also comprised Wingy Manone, Frank Teschemacher, Bud Freeman, Frank Melrose, and George Wettling. Buster Moten played second piano and accordion as a member of Bennie Moten’s orchestra; his solo on Moten’s Blues (1929, Vic. 38072) demonstrates that the instrument’s sweet sound fails to capture the raw emotions of the blues. Another obscure jazz accordionist was Jack Cornell, who recorded with both Irving Mills (...

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