Friday, February 5, 2016

The Accordion: Flaco Jimenez

Ry Cooder is the kind of eclectic musician that would include an accordion from time to time. He also would include a tuba, and you can hear them both in on his 1976 Chicken Skin Music album. Among other unusual instruments that he has included are the cimbalom, the tiple, the bajo sexto, the laud, the mandola - many of which he himself plays.

Since way back in the Chicken Skin Music days, his go to man for the accordion has been Flaco Jimenez. Jimenez also plays on the 1994 Rolling Stones' Voodoo Lounge. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Jimenez has played with David Lindley - kind of from the Ry Cooder camp. Or with Los Lobos because, of course, the accordion features heavily in Mexican music.

The paring of Mexican & accordion has a curious and circuitous history. A PBS show called Accordion Dreams relates how the ostensibly German accordion made its way into Mexican music via German settlers moving to Texas in the mid 18 hundreds. The Tejano music which resulted is a mix of polka inspirations and Mexican band. That's a simplification, of course. Mexican music includes all sorts of styles, but the accordion does seem to have been brought that far by Texas Germans. It's also a simplification to call it accordion music: there are several different types of accordion.
If all you came here for is the accordion, you can cut to Jimenez's solo at about the 7 minute mark.

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