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wannaplayjazz

Concertina for Jazz?

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Hi everyone!

 

I just found this forum and it seems like the ideal place to get advice. I'm interested in buying a concertina to play jazz on, but I'm new to both the instrument and the music genre. I play piano, but the nearest I've come is some to playing jazz is some ragtime pieces. But I love to listen to jazz, particularly gypsy jazz and big band swing, and I've always loved the concertina as an instrument so now I would like to combine the two. :)

 

I have a very limited budget and would hope to spend no more than €1000 or £850. Am I dreaming to think I could get a suitable instrument for that?

 

If not, what are my options please? As I know nothing, any advice about the type of concertina that would suit, specific models to consider, what to look for when purchasing, and who to buy from would be very much appreciated.

 

Many thanks!

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Hi everyone!

 

I just found this forum and it seems like the ideal place to get advice. I'm interested in buying a concertina to play jazz on, but I'm new to both the instrument and the music genre. I play piano, but the nearest I've come is some to playing jazz is some ragtime pieces. But I love to listen to jazz, particularly gypsy jazz and big band swing, and I've always loved the concertina as an instrument so now I would like to combine the two. :)

 

I have a very limited budget and would hope to spend no more than €1000 or £850. Am I dreaming to think I could get a suitable instrument for that?

 

If not, what are my options please? As I know nothing, any advice about the type of concertina that would suit, specific models to consider, what to look for when purchasing, and who to buy from would be very much appreciated.

 

Many thanks!

 

 

I'm not sure that the concertina is exactly the right instrument for jazz, but if you're looking for that New Orleans flavor, I'm sure that it would fit in just nicely in zydeco music, as well as blues in lieu of a harmonica.

 

I have no doubt that others here will have a more informed opinion...accept my 2p for what it's worth. ;)

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Hi there Wannaplay,

 

Your idea of playing jazz on a concertina is an interesting and possibly unique one -- and as such, we may not be able to give you a definitive answer. But here are some things you need to consider. First is your budget. Concertinas are deceptively expensive and your budget won't get you much. At best, you might be able to find a hybrid concertina to start with. Repeat after me: Cheap concertinas are junk! Now that we have that out of the way, here are some thoughts -- actually a stream of consciousness thing.

 

Jazz can come in any keys, so you will probably want to strike diatomic concertinas (anglos) off your list. I know people play harmonicas in jazz, but they are cheap and you can carry several in your pocket to adapt when somebody changes key. So an english or a duet csoncertina with its full chromatic capability can give you more flexibility. BUT neither of these concertina types has a lot of punch. These concertinas are most often heard playing legato. I'm sure that some people like Simon Thoumire get some fire out of their instruments but you are fighting the basic design when you try -- that's why he ocassionally pulls the thumb straps off his English concertina while playing.

 

Overall, I'm having a hard time visualizing jazz concertina. You will probably have to triple your budget to get a good instrument which would have a good keyboard needed to generate good, clean and smooth fast runs and I keep struggling with the issue of dynamics to give you a volume range that you might need too. The one thing that immediately popped into my head as a solution for you is accordion: either button or piano. The sound can be quite similar to a concertina but there's plenty of dynamic range, full chromatic scope (even on certain button accordions like b/c or c#/d models). And suitable accordions can be found for a more reasonable price.

 

Anyway, if you really feel the inclination, go for it. But do be aware of the inherent limitations that may hamper your output. Good luck,

 

Ross Schlabach

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Hi i,m new to the concertina but from a jazz background I prevaricated for quite a while as to which button system would be best suited to the gypsy jazz , standards french mussette style of music I want to play A chap I was playing with at a session

Had two concertinas (this started me off LOL) and instead of the usual folk style he played some great chords and melodies (Played a beautiful rendition of J'Attendrai) and I was hooked I have subsequently found out he played an English and a duet I chatted to a local restorer and anyone else that would listen and a duet seems to be the way to go if you want to play jazz arrangements ,The fact that a duet like and English plays the same notes pull and push was for me a clincher,

I plumbed for a duet as the wonderful J'Attendrai rendition was performed on a McCann system concertina ,so I looked through a lot of literature about the McCann concertinas and the general consensus was a 46 button would only be a stepping stone to a 55 button but I contacted Keith and to my amazement he played a 46 button,!!!!!!!!!!!! just proving I suppose that talent and technique are everything, I am working on a version of “all of me” and loving it LOL

 

tony

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Hi wannaplayjazz forgot to add

 

You might like this

 

Boulevard of Broken Dreams played by Randy Stein on the English Concertina

 

 

Tony

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Sorry to cut across some of the responses you have been given but John Nixon was a famous English Concertina Jazz player and has issued two CDs of his jazz playing.He is also featured on English International. He played on the Frog song with Paul McCartney. Sadly John recently died but leaves a great legacy of what can be done on the English Concertina. He will send down a thunderbolt if I do not stress that he was a great all round musician ,played concertina in the Bolton Concertina Band with his Father and was planning to do all the Regondi works before he died. I do not think he managed it. He was also a pioneer with playing the "Midi" concertina and you may still find his playing here in the archives.Other concertinas are OK for Jazz playing but I will let others follow that up.Randy Stein has already been mentioned otherwise I would have added his name.

My favourite player Tommy Elliott could play just about anything on his concertina.

Al

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Hi everyone!

 

I just found this forum and it seems like the ideal place to get advice. I'm interested in buying a concertina to play jazz on, but I'm new to both the instrument and the music genre. I play piano, but the nearest I've come is some to playing jazz is some ragtime pieces. But I love to listen to jazz, particularly gypsy jazz and big band swing, and I've always loved the concertina as an instrument so now I would like to combine the two. :)

 

I have a very limited budget and would hope to spend no more than €1000 or £850. Am I dreaming to think I could get a suitable instrument for that?

 

If not, what are my options please? As I know nothing, any advice about the type of concertina that would suit, specific models to consider, what to look for when purchasing, and who to buy from would be very much appreciated.

 

Many thanks!

 

Plenty of turn-of-the-century and early 20th century ragtime style jazz can be satisfactorily adapted for the Anglo if you have the determination and mind to do so. All musical instruments have their limitations but it is fun to try to extend the boundaries.

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Hi i,m new to the concertina but from a jazz background I prevaricated for quite a while as to which button system would be best suited to the gypsy jazz , standards french mussette style of music I want to play A chap I was playing with at a session

Had two concertinas (this started me off LOL) and instead of the usual folk style he played some great chords and melodies (Played a beautiful rendition of J'Attendrai) and I was hooked I have subsequently found out he played an English and a duet I chatted to a local restorer and anyone else that would listen and a duet seems to be the way to go if you want to play jazz arrangements ,The fact that a duet like and English plays the same notes pull and push was for me a clincher,

I plumbed for a duet as the wonderful J'Attendrai rendition was performed on a McCann system concertina ,so I looked through a lot of literature about the McCann concertinas and the general consensus was a 46 button would only be a stepping stone to a 55 button but I contacted Keith and to my amazement he played a 46 button,!!!!!!!!!!!! just proving I suppose that talent and technique are everything, I am working on a version of “all of me” and loving it LOL

 

tony

Well said Tony. Good advice. And duets are cheaper than Englishes, the only other option (I bet someone can play jazz on an Anglo but it must be good mental exercise...)

 

Mr Wannaplayjazz; you'll need to work at it to get anywhere; as a piano player you'll appreciate that. But jazzy chording sounds great on a concertina if you ask me. You will find many people involved with concertinas at the moment look no further than folk music, but it didn't used to be that way. Lots of players (including me) don't feel bound by this, and all the Maccan players I've ever met have a few 30's or 40's songs in their repertoire for starters.

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Wow! Thank you so much for all the replies! Not knowing enough about the instrument, I'm curious why some people feel it is inherently unsuitable for jazz?

 

I suppose it's best to clarify the kind of music I envisage playing, so here's a link to one of my favourite bands, the Rhythm Junkies from Lithuania:

Ignoring the cheesy radio station jingle in the first 10 seconds, they play two songs that pretty much encompass what I'm hoping to achieve on the concertina. I don't see myself joining a big band and trying to compete with the brass section or anything like that. :)

 

I suppose I'm thinking about playing something like a combination of the typical clarinet and vocal parts (or what the accordion does in the clip above). I'm thinking I'll need something with an approximate range from about the F below middle C to about the second A above it (2-3 octaves), with every note in-between so that I can play in any key. And something that would enable me to play some harmonies underneath the melody too would be nice. Can that be done on both an English and Duet or what would be the relative strengths/weaknesses of one over the other?

 

And is an instrument capable of all that within my budget? If all I can afford for now is junk, then is there something out there that I could upgrade from easily if I ever get to the point where my skills surpass the limitations of the instrument I'm playing?

 

Thanks again for all the info so far!

Norma.

Edited by wannaplayjazz

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Funny that nobody has mentioned Rainer Süßmilch yet - he plays fairly hardcore Jazz on his English Concertina - great stuff. I haven't been able to find a soundclip on the net, but it seems like there are only theoretical boundaries on what he can do... he also plays in various ensembles.

Edited by Ruediger R. Asche

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(I bet someone can play jazz on an Anglo but it must be good mental exercise...)

 

OK, it may not be jazz as MrWannaplayjazz knows it, but our own Mr Roger Digby does credit to Fats Waller and Rodgers & Hart in jazz style on an anglo concertina on Anglo International (Ain't Misbehavin and The Lady Is A Tramp).

 

Goes to show that anything is possible if you have the talent and the application!

 

Alex West

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I would say perfect for jazz. If a player masters the subtleties of an instrument the choice of music is a matter of preference. If a harmonica can play jazz, why not an anglo or English concertina. I would imagine transposing some melodies to fit a 30 or 38 keyed Anglo to be very possible. Stella by Starlight, The Girl from Ipanema, and most things played on a Sax ( normal 2.5 octave range) should be fine. Scrapple from The Apple, or Giant Steps........maybe. If a Sax can play Irish, then totally good for a concertina to play jazz.

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I've always enjoyed Pietro Valente. Some folks take exception to the lounge settings but I can still see the leisure suits ;)

 

http://www.concertina.net/forums/index.php?showtopic=513

 

Worth a listen if you can track down his CD.

 

Listening to The Rhythym Junkies makes me think Klezmer, which has some english concertina connections.

 

Greg

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Ah you're all teasing me by mentioning great musicians I want to listen to, but can't find clips of!

 

I'm torn now between an English and a McCann Duet, but leaning towards the English. I grew up in the west of Ireland and fell in love with the concertina, of course, from hearing Irish trad played on an Anglo. And so that's the sound I associate with the instrument. I think the way I would end up playing a Duet concertina, however, would be more like how a melodion sounds because I would end up using a left-hand harmony more. Maybe I'm completely off the wall with that idea? But then, the idea of playing jazz on a concertina seems to be somewhat off the wall anyway, so why stop there?! :D

 

All jokes aside, what kind of instrument (English) could I expect to get for my approx. €1000/£850 budget? Any recommendations?

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... what kind of instrument (English) could I expect to get for my approx. €1000/£850 budget? Any recommendations?

There's a rather nice-looking restored EC on eBay right now starting at £850.

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Thanks Steve. That does look lovely but, unfortunately, I won't be able to get the money together for another few weeks. Pity. I'll keep an eye on it to see what it goes for.

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i'm still not sure i understand what kind of jazz you're after (concertina and irish music people often use the term "jazz" to mean ragtime and old-style swing that stick to the melody but for limited improvisational breaks), while "jazz" to jazz-world musicians has meant since about the 40s or so, improvisational music that does not stick to a melody.

 

in concertina-land, there are plenty of "jazz" players, but in the sense of an old-fashioned, not very improvisiational style with chords in the bass line. you can play it on anglo, EC, or duet, though on the first two the keys and extensiveness of your bass chording are limited.

 

 

however, if you envision playing concertina as a "jazz" instrument in the sense of a melody instrument such as clarinet, sax, trombone, violin--seems to me English concertina would be a unique and wonderful entry into the roster whether you were playing old-style or totally improvisationally. it was designed to play single-voice melody lines with great fluidity and speed, and would be fantastic and quite a departure....(in the old-style sense, think of Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur" or louis armstrong's Hot Fives and Sevens on EC---wow!), or in a post-bebop style---what about some mingus, coltrane, or monk lines improvised on EC---also wow!)

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Ah you're all teasing me by mentioning great musicians I want to listen to, but can't find clips of!

 

I'm torn now between an English and a McCann Duet, but leaning towards the English. I grew up in the west of Ireland and fell in love with the concertina, of course, from hearing Irish trad played on an Anglo. And so that's the sound I associate with the instrument. I think the way I would end up playing a Duet concertina, however, would be more like how a melodion sounds because I would end up using a left-hand harmony more. Maybe I'm completely off the wall with that idea? But then, the idea of playing jazz on a concertina seems to be somewhat off the wall anyway, so why stop there?! :D

 

All jokes aside, what kind of instrument (English) could I expect to get for my approx. €1000/£850 budget? Any recommendations?

You might consider a Crane Duet. Here is a recording of Jean Megly playing something jazzy on a Crane (the jazzy tune starts at about 1:41). You could easily get a 35 button Crane in your price range and might be able to find a 42 button.

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