You’d Better Hear It To Believe It!
By Olaf Karrigan.
You can see sometimes in the streets of the North Berkeley a French-looking accordion player, wearing a black beret. This guy isn’t French, though. He plays music in public places, and it’s really a special kind of music. It is immediately clear that he can perform any kind of traditional accordion stuff that people are expecting to hear. But this is not his goal!
Can you imagine the sound of disco, rock or reggae music on accordion? That’s exactly what is Alex Yasko playing! If you ask any accordionist, even a professional, to play “Staying Alive” by Bee Gees or “Satisfaction” by Rolling Stones, or something from ABBA repertoire or just a reggae song, he probably would tell you that this is not possible technically.
But if you’re sitting in a cafe or even walking along the street and suddenly hear the sound of “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple from an accordion, you’ve got just two words on your mind: No way!
It’s nothing like a plain single melody line. It’s a full, juiced tone. You can clearly hear the bass, chords and even a bass drum! Although it looks like a circus trick, the pleasure is that you know this feat isn’t bogus!
When I spoke with Alex I learned a couple of interesting things. He says that most accordion players seriously underestimate the bass line, which makes their playing one-dimensional. For Alex, the music is like a sandwich! The melody line and the bass line are equally important, and between them he inserts juicy, tasty chords. There is more. He sits on his accordion case and uses it as a bass drum, striking the rhythms by his right heel. How totally amazing! No one plays like that! When you listen to him you get the impression that he is a three- or four-person band.
Alex says he had to totally change the entire system of his left-handed playing to create the needed effect. He plays bass lines like a bass guitarist. He has also invented the system of double and triple accompaniment, which allows him to imitate the entire band. Alex has arranged all of his pieces himself. Each one sounds both professional and beautiful. Alex is a very organized man. He has an awesome “Music Menu” in a plastic folder. There are about two hundred and fifty songs, divided into twenty-five different categories. Thirty or forty percent of them have never been played on accordion! You can choose to hear any one of these pieces, which will cost you as little as a buck. Also he has four discs: “Russian Album,” “Make a Wish” (International Mix), and his two last albums “Monster Bayan” includes rock, disco and reggae played on an accordion.
Now I’m going to tell you where you can meet Alex and listen to his art: Monday and Tuesday he plays on Solano Avenue close to Peet’s Coffee and Tea. Wednesday morning he’s always in front of Cheese Board Pizza on Shattuck Avenue. You can also sometimes find him at the 4th Street Peet’s. Friday nights Alex plays at La Note French restaurant in downtown Berkeley on 2377 Shattuck. He also plays at various locations in San Francisco, such as a “Russian Tea Room” – Russian restaurant at 600 Balboa St. (every Saturday at 7 pm).
Performers'/Artists' Voice firstname.lastname@example.org
I've started to perform music in USA 12 years ago, having a previous experience about 25 years in the Soviet Union.
And soon I realize that people like my music very much and pay their money for the enjoyment.
My first album âœThe Best of Russianâ쳌 (1995 - on tapes) was a bestseller! This album consists 34 songs - tripple size of common recording!
However, literally in 2 â 3 years the BIG DIGITAL REVOLUTION has occurred, and people just stopped to buy cassettes. Than Iâve recorded âœMake a Wishâ쳌 album (â98) (it has 29 songs on it!) on CD and digitally re-mastered the old one. Both of them became bestsellers.
My last two albums âœMonster Bayanâ쳌 Iâve made at summer of 2004. They represent a very exclusive style of an accordion performance. Iâm pretty sure that nobody can play such a genres on an accordion! And I hope youâll like it.
I think I have to describe my musical instruments, which Iâm using in my recordings.
1. Bayan (Russian type of the button chromatic accordion. I use two of them.)
2. Acoustic Guitar (steel and nylon strings)
3. Vocal (Iâm singing all the voices you can hear)
4. Drum effect (small tambourine and my right heel, striking on an accordion case)
So, all instruments are acoustic and natural! I donât use electronics and electricity at all!
Now I can see that the SECOND REVOLUTION in recording marketing has began and I donât want to be a loser hereâ
I have a classical and folk music background. Actually, Iâve got master degree in music. Also I have deep knowledge in music theory, arrangement and composition.
However, I played jazz, pop and rock music all my life in some small bands. Iâve been leader of those bands and I can play on any instrument: piano, variety of keyboards, guitar, bass, and drums. It helped me to invent some unknown techniques and manners of playing on an accordion.
You can see some of my arrangements and compositions here: http://www.notation.com/discus/indexCommunityForum.htm
Go to Share Your Music and Accordion page.
Natural acoustic instruments.
From 2006 I began to use the score editor 'Notation Composer' for creating midi files. 2007-8 is the years of switching to a 'Sonar-6.2' sequencer and building hi-quality mp3's to help me to play with back-ground rhythm section.
In a recent time I started to use Hyper Canvas and Adobe Audition soft to improve a quality of my creations.