The Free-Reed Review
Critiques of Compact Discs, Books and Music Scores
CD Review: Accordion to Frank
Accordion to Frank
Review by: Robert Stead
The CD notes state that Frank Toscano chose "a few songs that are dear to his heart" when he compiled this CD. What he presents to us are some very fine arrangements of standard Italian and Latin pieces as well as a couple of original compositions. Each piece has a drive and energy that is exhilarating.
The mixture of waltz, polka, rumba, samba, tango, and paso-doblé provide a great variety. The upbeat waltz in one, Domino, and the energetic Polka Fiorenzo are followed by a very lush and lamentful Non Volevo Credere ("I did not want to believe"). This piece uses MIDI vibes (keyboard) very effectively and the bassoon reed is a good contrast to the coupled reeds in the previous two pieces. Tico-Tico is an old standard piece that is always a delight to hear, and Frank gives us a very lively rendition. The piano, guitar, and percussion provide a solid pulse for the accordion. Sonority is in the ear of the listener, and to my ear, the string overlays in this piece could have been softened and raised an octave in order to give a lighter touch to the countermelody and to better complement the accordion. I think Just A Jazzy Waltz was inspired by the style of Art Van Damme. Toscano plays with that lightness and swing that characterizes Van Damme. In fact, in each of these arrangements you can hear the influence of jazz. This is especially true in España Cani.
Since these pieces are dance music, it is appropriate to have a dance-band ensemble. However, Frank's playing is so captivating, that I found myself wishing I could hear him playing solo. All good things come to the one who waits! The last track, Dark Eyes presents Frank unaccompanied. The solo allows him to perform with greater freedom than the steady rhythmic pulse found in the previous pieces. Perhaps his next album will be entirely solo (and perhaps could be called "Completely Frank").
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