Homage to the accordion and Diana Burco
This week in Music Sin Fronteras I want to pay homage to the accordion, and specifically to Diana Burco, una maestra del accordion (a master of the accordion) who takes it so much farther than anyone thought the accordion could go.
The accordion generally gets a bad rap in western music. In the US, it is relegated to Cajun music, polkas, and Mexican music loved by cowboys. In Europe it gets a little more respect because it originated there most likely around the early 19th century. Its exact origin is unclear, as similar instruments have existed in different parts of the world for centuries. The modern accordion was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1822 as a small, portable instrument that consisted of a set of bellows, a keyboard, and reeds. People loved it and it quickly became popular in many styles of music, including folk, classical, popular and formal tango.
In Mexico it is ubiquitous. There are bands led by accordions – popular bands that pack arenas. You almost can’t have a party band without an accordion (and certainly not without a tuba, but that is another column) and the result is always fun, fun ,fun.
But the Columbian singer/accordionist Diana Burco puts the accordion in a whole ‘nother world. Burco is known for her performances of vallenato, a popular folk music style from the Caribbean coast of Colombia that features the accordion as its main instrument. And it works because she plays an accordion beautifully, without even thinking about it. She is so good that she can effortlessly incorporate jazz , cumbia, and other musical genres and her smooth, seductive voice into masterpieces that no one else can even think about doing.
He latest release, Mal Amores is exactly that – a blend of accordion, Latin funk, angelic vocals and pure fun. The accordion moves in and out both as a melody and an accent, working with the percussion, mirroring her vocals, then adding a color that you just can’t get any other way. Mal Amores is addictive, joyful, mesmerizing and fun – a combination you don’t often find in a single album, much less a single song.
Her accordion playing reminds me of violins in movie scores – accents until they sweep you away, She does it with a seamless blend of the accordion and her vocals. No tubas or polkas here – just fine, fun dancin’music.
Mal Amores was released Friday through Codiscos, and I predict it will take off; not hard to imagine with almost 2 million streams of her music on Spotify. Burco has released several other albums and hit singles throughout her career, including her first two albums Diana Burco and Río Abajo, and singles Juan and Negro del Sur and the popular single Corbarde. She was nominated for a Latin Grammy twice: 2018 and 2021. She has performed at music festivals and venues throughout Colombia and other Latin American countries and I am looking forward to a Mexico tour someday, hopefully to Guadalajara.
Mal Amores is now streaming on all major platforms and YouTube.
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