Guy Klucevsek

The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour
Innova 819

By Ken Waxman

Probably the only person who bridges the gap among Slovenian polkas, Tex-Mex ballads, Erik Satie and John Zorn, is accordionist Guy Klucevsek. Assisted by more than a dozen other musicians, Klucevsek has come up with 13 performances here that show off every aspect of his keyboards, buttons and bellows skills and makes sure everyone has a good time as he does so.

Crucially though, the reason why The Multiple Personality Reunion Tour impresses on every level is the accordionist’s insistence on treating each of the compositions with equal deference. Three so-called hymnopedies, dedicated to Satie, for instance, including “Hymnopedie No. 2” with Dave Douglas advancing a legato variant of baroque trumpeting alongside Klucevsek’s pressurized accordion stops, are performed with the same serious intent as “The C&M Waltz”. The latter, honoring Klucevsek’s cousins, who have been waltzing to Slovenian music for more than half a century, includes the proper pumps and sways in its exposition, while subtly incorporating improvised obbligatos from Klucevsek and fellow squeeze-box specialist Alex Meixner.

Klucevsek, who founded the international Accordion Tribe in 1996 and played with that all-accordion quintet until 2009, always celebrates the dual-voice tremolo instrument and its practitioners. “Lädereld” for instance, a stop-time number, does more than illustrate the mixture of blues, jazz and Tex-Mex sounds favored by reedist Jeffrey Barnes, keyboardist Carl Finch, bassist Little Jack Melody and drummer Alan Emert, who play on half the CD recorded in Texas. More importantly it features Klucevsek on melodica, bending notes and trading licks with two other accordionists, Meixner and Ginny Mac.

The accordionist’s humor is paramount when that quartet joins him saluting Martin Denny on “O’O”, proving that his instrument’s tremolo stopping mixed with cymbal clashes and bird-calls from everyone can easily approximate the style of Exotica’s forefather. Similarly, backed by Pete Donovan’s bass and John Hollenbeck’s drums, Klucevsek’s squeeze box creates well-modulated keyboard accompaniment, allowing a vocal trio to approximate the sound of the Swingle Singers on “Gimme a Minute Please”. In contrast, the staccato undulations and pumping ostinato he melds into a keening threnody for the late Accordion Tribe member Lars Hollmer demonstrates how the accordion’s versatility can illustrate appropriately solemn sentiments.

Its adaptability also confirms why Klucevsek has stuck with this odd-ball instrument all these years.

Tracks: Breathless and Bewildered; Waltz for Sand; Gimme a Minute, Please (My Sequins Are Showing; Larsong; Ratatatatouille; Hymnopedie No. 1; Hymnopedie No. 2; Hymnopedie No. 3; Pink Elephant; O’O; Lädereld; The C&M Waltz; Moja Baba Je Pijana

Personnel: Guy Klucevsek: accordion – all tracks; plus Track 1: Alex Meixner: accordion, trumpet; Brandon Seabrook: tenor banjo; Marcus Rojas: tuba; Kenny Wollesen: drums, percussion Track 2: Pete Donovan: bass; John Hollenbeck: drums, xylophone Track 3: Jo Lawry, Theo Bleckmann, Peter Eldridge: vocals; Pete Donovan: bass; Hollenbeck: drums Track 5: same as Track 2; Track 6: Meixner; Rojas; Wollesen; Steve Elson (clarinet, saxophones); Brandon Seabrook: guitar; Track 7: Dave Douglas (trumpet); Track 8: Brave Combo: Jeffrey Barnes: clarinets; Carl Finch: piano, keyboards, percussion; Little Jack Melody: fretless bass; Alan Emert: drums; Track 9: Meixner; Brave Combo Track 10: same as #9 but Barnes: ocarina, bag o’birds, saxophones, ukulele, percussion; Finch: guitar, keyboard, accordion, sounds Track 11: Ginny Mac: accordion; Klucevsek: melodica; Meixner: accordion, trumpet; Brave Combo; Track 12: Meixner; Brave Combo Track 13: Same as #12 plus Meixner, Klucevsek, Barnes: vocals

—For New York City Jazz Record October 2012