Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

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maugein96
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Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Tue Jul 10, 2018 10:32 pm

Looking for opinions please with regard to the sound of the accordion in this clip, which is one that the French player Joss Baselli had commissioned to suit his particular requirements.

I've heard this track played by various jazz accordionists and would have to say that this Cavagnolo possibly lacks the depth of some Italian made jazz accordions.

However, it seems to possess certain acoustic qualities that possibly appeal to those of us who like the sound of old Cavagnolo boxes. I know a Scottish pro player who bought one of these accordions (for a considerable sum), and it sounded just like the one in this track.

My question is, does it cut it for jazz, or does it not quite make the grade?

Please bear in mind that Baselli wasn't really a jazz player, but liked to "dabble", and the recording is pretty ancient.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0X-sedpKxM

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by donn » Wed Jul 11, 2018 6:13 am

This is more like what I'd want to hear in a jazz setting, speaking of Cavagnolo sounding a little more like what I would expect: Topsy - Quartet swing et jazz manouche avec accordéon. In the old one, the notes don't seem well defined enough. Can't quite put my finger on it, but I will say that it strikes me as a general fault of the accordion as a jazz instrument, that the attack is weak, which makes for kind of a limp sound. Just leafing through some performances of the same tune, from Mario Battaini I hear more attack and clarity.

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 8:57 am

Donn,

My ears aren't what they once were, and you've confirmed what I was thinking. Basically he was playing jazz on a "general purpose" instrument. The recording of Topsy is more like the sound most of us would expect to hear from a modern "jazzy" Cavagnolo.

At first, I was putting it down to the fact that Baselli was playing it a bit "tongue in cheek". His style encompassed all sorts of music, and every so often you got the impression that some of his recordings appeared to have been "on demand", rather than material that he actually wanted to play. You probably know that he played for some years in the US under the name "Jo Basile", often accompanying the French female singer, "Patachou".

An old player in Scotland, Tommy Kettles, has/had an identical instrument, except that it had a 4x2 bass instead of 3x3. He played the same sort of mix as Baselli and a friend and I thought it sounded great, but then jazz was only part of Tommy's repertoire too.

The "Joss Baselli" model is a bit of an enigma and I don't know how many of them were made. They would most likely have been based on the old style Vedette 10, but other than that, I just don't know.

Thanks for the input, Donn. It was very much appreciated.

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by debra » Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:32 pm

The Joss Baselli model was played (at the start) with single 8' in cassotto, a nice mellow cassotto giving almost a Gola-like sound. The Topsy recording sounds like it was one with double 8' without (or very little) tremolo, which give a bit of a nasal sound that I generally do not like.
I don't know what the "attack" aims at in the remark about the Mario Battaini recording because certainly in the beginning it has no attack at all, only later is there some attack.
The trouble with accordion and attack is that people are afraid that the reeds will choke when there is too much attack. When one reed chokes players ease off the attack on all notes, which is a shame because it is a simple matter of adjusting the voicing on that one reed. I like to play Piazzolla with attack, and the way many accordion players ease off the attack makes Piazzolla sound lame.
For jazz it's hard to beat Victoria accordions, the accordion of choice of the late Frank Marocco and of Richard Galliano. There is something peculiar about the sound of Victoria that I can't really lay my hands on but it is a very distinctive sound. (It may have to do with their unique reed block construction
I like the sound of the Joss Baselli Cavagnolo accordion more than that of many other Cavagnolos. Maybe it is because it does not sound like a Cavagnolo. With my eyes closed I would never have guessed it was a Cavagnolo.
Paul De Bra (not Debra...)
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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:38 pm

Hi Paul,

I was thinking that some of the sounds were similar to the Hohner Gola, but maybe not just as "jazzy"

I cannot remember if Tommy's box had a 4 or a 5 voice treble but I'm pretty sure one of the 8' reeds was in cassotto as you have mentioned.

It had one of those complicated double function coupler arrangements which gave either 10 or 12 different combinations, depending on the model.

They're now making the bodies out of some sort of new fangled compound so I just wonder what those sound like. At a guess they must be getting near 50/50 digital/acoustic production, and I don't think I'd ever be looking to buy a new one.

Thanks for that info on the Baselli model. He originally started off playing Belgian basses when he lived in Douai, but swapped over to standard Stradella, maybe even using a converter, before he began to teach in Paris. He probably wasn't as technical a player as his colleague and friend, Andre Astier, but his style made a welcome change from the run of the mill musette offerings of the day (once I realised there was more to French accordion than three voice musette).

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:08 am

Hi John,

I know little about jazz, and even less about this particular gentleman. Most of the comments have also flown way above my head, though I fancy that I can answer the question in my own very simple way.

I enjoyed the tune and thought the player was excellent. The accordion sounded lovely and the tone was great.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by donn » Thu Jul 12, 2018 6:06 am

debra wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 12:32 pm
I like the sound of the Joss Baselli Cavagnolo accordion more than that of many other Cavagnolos. Maybe it is because it does not sound like a Cavagnolo. With my eyes closed I would never have guessed it was a Cavagnolo.
Examples I heard never really sold me on any Cavagnolo sound. But one came along, and there aren't many accordions of that style to be found here, so now I have one. And now that I'm playing it, and not comparing tonal quality A vs. B, it has grown on me - it does what I need, which is not necessarily a matter of how sweetly I can play. Esthetics has its functional components, I guess. That's what I thought about the jazz excerpts - the sound that context calls for, could well be a little harsh and nasal. A sax player, trombone, whatever, could very likely approach a jazz piece like that with a tone quality that isn't the sweetest he or she could manage. I'm doing nothing so virtuosic as that, but I do play along with a drum with a very diffuse tonal quality.

I found the tone out of that Baselli appealing, but you know, I wonder if that wears off after a while, listening to the same accordion until it becomes essentially neutral. At that point, it's what I'm talking about, the expressive quality depends not on the tonal quality that's a constant in every note, but on how well defined the pitch, how responsive to attack, how present the tone is in the mix, etc.

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:01 pm

Hi Donn,

Obviously, I am in a similar position to yourself, as I don't live in France and it's difficult to come by any sort of French made accordion here in the UK. In the early days when I started buying French accordion records what immediately became apparent was that Cavagnolo accordions nearly all had a delivery that sounded as though they were being played through something like a trumpet mute. Most players who had them would turn on that MM register and record an entire album with it on. I just couldn't listen to more than a couple of tracks at a time before I had to move on to something else. I later discovered that Cavagnolo proudly marketed such accordions as having their own distinctive "americain" tone, which a lot of French players drooled over, and bought them in quantity for that sound.

I am now down to two French made accordions, and beggars can't be choosers, so there's no point in comparing my boxes with each other, or anything else. One is a Cavagnolo and the other one isn't, and that's it. They do the job they're supposed to and I've been told that the reeds in both of them are superb. Both are extremely light on the treble keyboard and are a joy to play.

I rate Joss Baselli as one of the best French players of his time. He threw in just enough musette (in his own style) to keep people listening, but his real strength as an entertainer was his ability to vary it, and even add the odd dash of comedy into some of the tunes.

Would I like to be able to play like Baselli? Of course I would, but as a UK accordion professor advised:- a copy is worthless, but the original is priceless. So maybe I'd better just get on with playing some priceless accordion without worrying too much about what it sounds like!

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:30 pm

Stephen Hawkins wrote:
Thu Jul 12, 2018 12:08 am
Hi John,

I know little about jazz, and even less about this particular gentleman. Most of the comments have also flown way above my head, though I fancy that I can answer the question in my own very simple way.

I enjoyed the tune and thought the player was excellent. The accordion sounded lovely and the tone was great.

Kind Regards,

Stephen.
Stephen,

I sometimes wish I was able to detach myself from some of the trivia associated with the accordions I like, and spend more time playing them than waffling on about them.

However, you'll probably know by now that I'm better at talking about them than playing them.

I'm not big into jazz, and neither was Joss Baselli. Problem is I've been listening to his music since Adam was a boy and I would agree that I do tend to get a bit too involved with his music and the instruments he played.

Glad you liked the tune, and the accordion. At least we have something in common!

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Thu Jul 12, 2018 11:18 pm

Hi John,

It is not that I don't like any jazz, but that I only like some jazz. As previously stated, I am something of a musical butterfly. I flutter around various types of music, landing on the tunes I would like to play.

Folk, Jazz, Rock & Roll, Pop, Easy Listening ............ I don't care about crossing musical boundaries ........... all that matters is whether I like a tune or not.

I let other people categorise music, while I get on and play whatever takes my fancy. Nor do I concern myself too much about which instrument should be used to play which type of music. As long as I am having fun, none of that bothers me in the slightest degree.

I am currently looking at two Mark Knopfler songs with a view to learning them. A great pal of mine plays them very well on guitar, so I may have a few sessions with him to see if I can pick them up.

Just out of interest, they are: "Postcards From Paraguay" & "Privateering", both of which I have decided that I like. (available on youtube)

All The Best,

Stephen.

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by maugein96 » Fri Jul 13, 2018 12:27 pm

Sorry Stephen,

I'd never heard of Mark Knopfler, and had to go to Wikipedia, when I discovered he was born in Glasgow and played in a band called Dire Straits.

I had heard of Dire Straits but wouldn't have had a clue who the members were, as I have never listened to any of the mainstream "popular" bands in my life.

Listened to "Postcards from Paraguay", but as soon as he started singing that was the end of it for me. I struggle to listen to any type of vocalist in any style, and that's why I only go for instrumental music, however weird that may seem.

As a kid I preferred The Shadows when they weren't standing near a "Cliff", just playing instrumentals, and never really went for The Beatles, the Stones, or any of the big names. Never bought a "pop" album in my life, and couldn't have told you what was number I in the hit parade, or whatever they call it these days, since about 1960.

Whilst I agree with your sentiment that music is the food of love, IMHO singing is all too often the screech of anguish. The best Singers were the sewing machines with that brand name they used to make in Clydebank, near Glasgow, but they did make a bit of a racket as well.

Singing was banned in the pubs in Glasgow for many years, (until I moved away from the area and they allowed it again!)

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Re: Cavagnolo "Joss Baselli" model

Post by Stephen Hawkins » Fri Jul 13, 2018 11:05 pm

Hi John,

I would hardly describe myself as being "down with the kids", but I had heard of Dire Straights. It is only since "Bad Granddad" (aka Dave Gaskell) started playing those two tunes that I learned who Mark Knopfler was. Honestly, you should stick with listening to those songs a bit longer, as there are some quite lengthy instrumental bits for your delectation.

All The Best,

Stephen.

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