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Squeeze This!: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America (Folklore Studies in Multicultural World) Hardcover – February 23, 2012
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"A serious work of musical and cultural history."--Shelf Awareness
"Using meticulous research, Jacobson not only touches on how topics as diverse as immigration, movies, war, and feminism have influenced the accordion's popularity, but she also finds time to drop in countless little known pop culture nuggets about great accordionists."--Publishers Weekly
"A fascinating cultural history of the most underestimated of instruments."--Booklist
"Wunnerful, wunnerful. . . . A delightful and illuminating surprise."--The Wall Street Journal
"An illuminating and occasionally whimsical account, in keeping with the instrument itself."--Library Journal
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Top customer reviews
This curriculum was the basis of many of the college/university level courses that followed. The course at UMKC would probably not have existed had it not been for the information he shared with Joan Sommers. His course at U of H was the first successful course of its kind. One had been tried earlier at one of the northern universities, but it barely lasted a semester. His lasted for 18 years. His students were the creme de la creme. They went through an agonizing, but thorough auditioning process. There were students from all over the US.
Unfortunately, when the U of H became a state supported institution, the new chairman of the music department refused to allow the accordion to be taught there. So after a run of 18 years, his accordion curriculum headed North to UMKC.
His contributions to the design of the convertor system that was used by Titano and some other accordion manufacturers were also of extreme importance. I still have a prototype of one of the instruments he designed.
There were other minor factual errors in the book, as well.
Had Ms. Jacobson contacted me, I could have corrected some of these errors and oversights.
Growing up Polish in Chicago during the 1940s, when a salesman from Wilkins School of Music visited us on April 25, 1949, I already knew what an accordion was. With my approval, my dad bought into the concept, and my first lesson was on May 9, 1949. The rest is history--jamming with the likes of the Duke and Gerry; working for Gatemouth, and Fred Wesley. But after reading Ms. Jacobson's scholarly prose, I'm still not sure I can come up with an answer.
Her academic style impresses me, along with the numerous anecdotes and endnotes, colorfully illustrated photographs, humor, and information and links about the history and marketing of the accordion (except for "old-timey jam sessions," she defines concepts I've wondered about for years). However, as well-researched as the story appears to be, Ms. Jacobson relates only a tiny piece of a much larger picture. What I found disappointing was her lack of sensitivity toward my axe, comparing it to the guitar, and perpetuating myths that serious accordionists have been trying to bury for years. She allots inordinate space to talented entertainers like Contino, Welk, and the two Yankovics, while those who made the accordion one of the hippest instruments in musical history are innocently ignored. I can understand the author's fascination with "the amateur world of squeezing" (as one reviewer puts it); the accordion is very difficult to master. But she leaves out the accordionists who motivate us to become what Joshua Camp calls those "serious-chops" guys (or gals).
Fortunately, most of the following artists--living and dead--who are conspicuously absent from this treatise can be heard with a click of the mouse: Nick Ariondo, Wolmer Beltrami, Joe Burke, Lanny Di Jay, Milton DeLugg, Ernie Felice, Gordie Fleming, Richard Galliano, Julie Gardner, Tommy Gumina, Alice Hall, Pete Jolly, Kato Kanako, Gorni Kramer, Mat Mathews, Johnny Meijer, Russ Messina, Mie Miki, Eddie Monteiro (his comments appear on the frontispiece), Joe Natoli, Cory Pesaturo, Leon Sash, George Shearing, Cornell Smelser, Reno Tondelli, Joe Vito, and others too numerous to mention; but they are part of the answer as to why one plays an accordion. To slight these people would be like writing a history of the Republican Party, and omitting Medill, Greeley or Lincoln. For those who know nothing about the accordion, oversights of this kind create a disservice. I feel this book is frightfully lopsided and demonstrates a shortcoming inherent in a lot of academic writing by those with scholarly credentials: it can appear credible to neophytes. There's more to the accordion than "Lady of Spain" or "Who Stole the Keeshka?"
Hopefully, when the sequel to "Squeeze This!" is published, Marion Jacobson will fill us in on the rest of the narrative, because she writes well; but the accordion is more than just "Wunnerful, wunnerful." It's spectacular to us serious-chops guys!
Squeeze This!: A Cultural History of the Accordion in America (Folklore Studies in Multicultural World)