I could blame it on Brave Combo, but eventually I have to “own” and take personal responsibility for my love of polka. I have no cultural connection to the genre, or to its widely loathed instrumental core: the accordion.
I love accordion and wish it were as essential to the modern jazz combo as an alto sax or bass. I wish Charlie Parker had played the accordion instead of the alto, and that his genius and bop led to other great accordionists like Bill Evans, John Coltrane and Guy Klucevsek. Well, actually, Mr. Klucevsek is an accordionist, an amazing one. And one can hear some Charlie Parker in Mr. K’s music, somewhere deep within.
I mentioned seeing Mr. K five years ago, a “shout out” that hasn’t seemed to make him a household name or get him an appearance playing at the Super Bowl Halftime Show. Oh well.
At least there is some good news. An old record, “Polka From the Fringe,” that Mr. K made back in the early 1990s with a ton of other “underground” NYC and beyond musicians (e.g., Fred Firth, Elliott Sharp) has finally been resurrected from record label purgatory. Wonderfully stupid music. Marvelously silly. And it’s available on MOG for streaming.
And polka doesn’t even have to feature the mellifluous reeds of an accordion. Here’s Elliott Sharp leading a rendition of “Happy Chappie Polka” from the aforementioned album.
No, it’s not exactly the sort of thing you’d see/hear on that equally marvelous (in both stupid and silly) “Mollie B Polka Party” show on RFD-TV. Too much Charlie Parker for RFD, perhaps. Even twenty years after its release. Someday My Prince (or Grand Unification of Accordion/Polka into jazz) Will Come…
Okay, I couldn’t resist the latter. Doncha think Bill Evans could use a accordion player here though?