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CD Review: Vaudeville Accordion Classics: The Complete Works of Guido Deiro
Vaudeville Accordion Classics

Henry Doktorski, Accordionist

Total time: 73:23 Disk A, 72:09 Disk B
Review date: Dec. 2003

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Disc A
  • Temperamental Rag
  • Pink Slippers Valse
  • Preparedness March
  • Il Pentimento Waltz
  • Royal Flying Corps March
  • Kismet Fox Trot
  • Orazione e Marcia Militare
  • Western Stars March
  • Moonlight Waltz
  • Hand Grenade Throwers March
  • Deiro Rag
  • Musketeers March
  • Deirina Mazurka
  • I Don't Care Polka
  • Lido Tango
  • Queen of the Air March
  • Valse Caprice No. 1
  • Neapolitan Waltz
  • My Florence Waltz
  • Egypto Fantasia
Disk B
  • Zampa Rag
  • Lola Fox Trot
  • Breitenbush March
  • Tango Tosino
  • Guido's Royal March
  • Light & Shadow Waltz
  • Variety Polka
  • Valse Pirouette
  • Marines March
  • Dolores Waltz
  • Los Bomberos March
  • (The following compositions from Guido Deiro's Royal Method for PianoAccordion)
    • Accordionette Waltz
    • Young Accordionist March
    • Little Accordion Player Waltz
    • Torpedo March
    • Beautiful Girl Waltz
    • The Peasant Quadrille
    • Radio Waltz
    • Dimples Polka
    • The Accordion Girl Waltz
    • Sharpshooters March
    • Veno (Duet) Fox Trot
    • Jewel Waltz (Duet)
    • King Boy (Duet) Fox Trot
    • Minneapolis March (Duet)
    • California Mazurka (Duet)
    • Sharpshooters March (reprise on Guido's original 1924 Guerrini accordion)

Review by Robert Karl Berta:

When I heard that noted concert accordionist and good friend Henry Doktorski was in the process of recording a two CD set of all of Guido Deiro's works I knew this would be a monumental recording of great historical perspective. Guido Deiro was arguably one of if not the first proponent of the piano accordion on the vaudeville stage (more on that later).

I count myself lucky in personally knowing Henry Doktorski...and I am repeatedly impressed by his impeccable playing. He has outstanding technique backed with a fine ability to render any musical selection with the "soul" that raises music to an art form. Previous Doktorski recordings included the fabulous "A Classical Christmas", "Music by George Gershwin" and "Cinema Serenade" with violinist Itzhak Perlman. But as fine as those recordings are, they pale in comparison to this historical collection. Henry's recordings have always been noted for their excellent recorded sound (the downfall of many accordion recordings) and a first class album cover. Here he outdoes himself...and also includes a comprehensive booklet giving a fascinating historical account of one of the most influential accordionists from the golden age of the accordion.

The city of San Francisco, California prides itself on its involvement in the popularizing and development of the piano accordion. They even went so far as to recognize that historical significance (at one time there were at least 8 accordion factories in San Francisco) by officially recognizing the accordion as the official instrument of the City about 11 years ago. Perhaps the validity of that honor can be recognized in the words of Guido himself. While in San Francisco in 1910, Deiro gave an impromptu concert and was discovered by an agent for the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit. He was soon engaged as a headliner, one of the most popular and highest paid acts on the entire bill.

Guido wrote, "The manager of the American Theatre at that time in San Francisco was Sid Grauman. Mr. Grauman suggested that I let the singer go and that I do an act alone, so I opened at the American Theatre, June 15th, 1910, billed 'Deiro, American Premier Piano Accordionist.' I was dressed in a white flannel suit, black bow tie, using a chair for the first two numbers. My program was:1 Poet and Peasant Overture, 2 Dill Pickles Rag, 3 My Treasure Waltz, 4 I got a Ring on My Finger. That was the first time that the piano accordion was called that name, and the first time it appeared on the vaudeville stage."

Guido certainly had a fascinating career and life...and later a sad end to his career. His life seemed to rise with the popularity of Vaudeville...and later crash with the depression stock market crash (he was very heavily invested in stocks) and later the demise of that very venue which made him such a star. I won't go into the biography of Guido. Instead I would recommend that you obtain the CD and read the extensive biography provided by Henry. But to spark your interest...did you know that one of his marriages was to Mae West? Or that he was the first accordionist to play on the radio? Or that he was so popular that he was making $600 a week in 1910...a huge amount of money in those days.

I am certain that accordionists will recognize a few of the selections on this CD from their own musical training. I doubt there are many accordionists who haven't heard or played "The Sharpshooters March". This particular tune brought back strong memories for me as that was the very first tune I played on live TV as a young student at the age of 12 in 1959. I practiced that piece until I could play it backwards and forwards in my sleep. Came the big day and I sat in front of that GIANT TV camera about 4' in front of me and played away. I wasn't intimidated by all that...nor the extremely hot lights blasting down on me. I played the selection and about 1/2 way through I finished one refrain (the one with the bellows solo) and than realized I couldn't remember if I already played the did it again...for the third time. I thought I was pretty smooth and didn't give anything away. But when I got home my 6 year old sister popped the bubble when she told me that I screwed up...oh well!

A special treat was hearing "The Sharpshooters March" played twice...once on Henry's fine Victoria concert accordion...and again on Guido's very own 1924 Guerrini. The other selections on this recording are not only a snapshot of the music of the Golden Days of the Accordion....but also the types of music our country was listening to early in the century. Bearing in mind that these tunes were all designed for the Vaudeville stage the music styles are all designed to be "spectacular" with a catchy beat, showing off technical wizardry and to appeal to Joe average. And they don't will be hard for anyone to listen to this CD without a lot of toe tapping. And I guarantee you won't nod off!

So in conclusion...I can't imagine ANY accordion aficionado not owning this CD. And hopefully it will plant the seeds of retrospective recordings of the other greats of the early days of the accordion. Congratulations to Henry for taking on this sizable project...and doing it right with first rate liner notes, fine recorded sound and of course outstanding performances of all the selections.

Henry tells me that all the sheet music from this CD will be published hopefully next year as "The Complete Guido Deiro Music Anthology." I especially look forward to this printed music edition!

To read other reviews of this CD, Click Here.

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