Accordionist Karen Street’s Ensemble Streetworks launch new album – Unfurled

Unfurled-CD-Karen Street

Karen Street is a musician who always commands the greatest of respect.  She is an immensely able and talented accordionist, always tasteful and imaginative and whose music is always relevant to life.  She is one of the few accordionists who predominately use free bass in jazz.

Streetworks, her ensemble, have just released their latest album entitled Unfurled.  It is a in her own words contemplative album and reflects her time of life. Youth and excitement is far away, there is a sense of loss with children moving away, parents dying or succumbing to dementia, a sadness which is very present at the moment but which will I hope take more of a back seat as time passes, indicated in the more optimistic tracks.

She aims to communicate with an audience on an emotional level rather than achieving any wow factor. She is very comfortable with the people she plays with and performs at her best.

“I think I have found in the players in STREETWORKS a great sound and good level of communication. I think jazz mirrors your personality – I can be very shy but with moments of recklessness, sounds like a title for the next album! I think I also have a lot of anger against the injustices of the world and I would dearly like to find a way of expressing this through my music.” says Karen

She is as ever, absolutely right. Good music is always relevant and reflective of life and the world in which we live in today has plenty to reflect on.  So you can take this album as a purely entertainment album but scratch a bit deeper and there is lots of substance and depth to the music that goes beyond its technical or harmonic aspects.  The album is receiving rave reviews and deserves to do well. Here are a few to help press “Buy Now”




CD review by Jon Turney –

A top-class instrumental foursome playing continental jazz with ethnic influences. Accordion player Karen Street’s fluid arrangements create a set full of quirky charm.

The Musician summer 2015


Peter Bacon –

Streetworks – Unfurled ATKS1501

Streetworks is a drummer-less quartet from the South-West led by accordionist Karen Street with Andy Tweed on various saxophones, Mike Outram on guitar and Will Harris on bass.

Originally from Burton-on-Trent, Karen was a champion accordionist at an early age and has brought her virtuoso technique on the instrument to high-standard projects from folk to jazz to contemporary classical.

This band plays all original compositions in a lyrical modern jazz style which, inevitably given the connotations the listener brings to the lead instrument, has folk overtones, but also adds some tango spice too.

The title track, which opens the album, is something of a laying out of the stall, a perky piece introduced by solo accordion and featuring solos from Tweed on soprano and Street on accordion which illustrate how they improvise jazz with very few of the cliches normally associated with the genre. Outram and Harris lock in well in strong support.

Dancer has the swirl of the skirt about it and a little tango heat, or rather warmth: these are English players, after all, and so more restrained than their Argentine counterparts. Ode shows the harmonic riches that Street can summon from the keys and air of her instrument, and Tantrum has a folk dance feel which then opens out harmonically with a classy solo from Outram, ending up in the disruptive, discordant behaviour – especially from Tweed – of its title before order is finally restored. No.255 is a gorgeous reworking of a hymn tune.

All four are fine improvisers and have generous solo space, but it is the leader’s writing and arrangements together with the group sound and the highly sensitive interaction between the players that adds a whole bowl of cherries on the top of this already juicy West Country summer pudding in sound.



Encuentro – The Deco Ensemble launch their new tango album

Deco Ensemble CD Encuentro

Following their South Bank CD launch last month ZZ Music are pleased to make ENCUENTRO this superb CD available to ZZ Music customers. Featuring Bartosz Glowacki on Accordion with a top notch group of musicians that make up the Deco Ensemble you will hear Tango interpreted at its very best in this their debut album.

Established in 2013, the group has been described as an ‘exceptional’ ensemble ‘of the highest calibre’, with a ‘strong and highly individual voice’.The members of the Deco Ensemble have combined their spirit of fearless exploration to re-imagine the Tango Nuevo Quintet, combining classical, jazz and traditional music influences. The Deco Ensemble are currently on tour around the UK and abroad promoting their new album.

‘Encuentro’ features works by a handful of the foremost Argentinian composers of tango music, including Astor Piazzolla & Gustavo Beytelmann, as well as compositions by the Belgian contemporary classical composer Frédéric Devreese.
Released 09 July 2015

Bartosz Glowacki – Accordion
Sabina Rakcheyeva – Violin
Rob Luft – Guitar
Ricardo Gosalbo – Piano
Elena Marigómez – Double Bass
Milonga Del Angel (Astor Piazzolla)

Concierto para quinteto (Astor Piazzolla)

Silencios  (Ramiro Gallo)

Tango  (Frederic Devreese)

Dream  (Frederic Devreese)

Encuentro (Gustavo Beytelmann)

Toralf Tollefsen -World Artist

‘Toralf Tollefsen World Artist’ is a fascinating and very readable book about the life, career and achievements of Toralf Tollefsen (1914-94), a much loved and internationally renowned accordionist from Norway, a man who truly became a legend in his lifetime. First published (in Norwegian) in 1994 to celebrate Tollefsen’s 80th birthday, this book is not actually a biography as such, but an anthology edited by Jon Faukstad containing a lengthy in-depth biographical interview with the great man by Faukstad, four informative articles about Tollefsen and his very significant contribution to the accordion (written by Mogens Ellegaard, Ola Kai Ledang, Jon Faukstad, and Birger Ostby), plus a complete and detailed discography, compiled by Tom Valle. Toralf Tollefsen has long been a legendary figure in the accordion world, especially in Britain where he lived between 1936/39 and 1946/61. There have been other accordionists equally skilled, but few could match Tollefsen’s charisma, stage presence or reputation, or the deep impression he made on a generation of accordionists in this country whose progress was often measured by how well they could play compositions and arrangements bearing Tollefsen’s name. This newly published English-language version tells a great deal about Tollefsen’s lifelong dedication to the accordion, and the reader will learn much about his ambitions, thoughts on repertoire, performance, his instruments, playing experiences in Britain and the USA, and his philosophy about life. The life of Tollefsen is, in a sense, the story of the modern accordion in Britain and Europe as this was the man whose long-held and eventually realised dream it was to pioneer the accordion’s transition from variety theatres to the classical concert stage, introducing the free bass instrument in the process. In the interview section Tollefsen discusses how he went from variety to classical music in the post-war years, and the problems he had to overcome with this transition. Originally published in Norwegian, ‘Toralf Tollefsen World Artist’ has been painstakingly translated and updated by Owen Murray, with assistance from Olga Jorgensen for the translation of the article by Professor Ola Kai Ledang. Special mention should be made of the initiative of Roland Williams, whose enthusiasm brought this project to fruition.

Toralf Tollefsen – World Artist by Jon Faukstad

Toral Tollefsen, World Artist is a new publication we now have in stock featuring one of the first truly global accordionists of the concert platform.  The book tracks the life of this pioneer of the concert accordion through interviews and articles contributed by the editor Jon Faukstad, Mogens Ellegaard, Ola Kai Ledang and others. The project to translate Faukstad’s original book into English was spearheaded by Roland Williams who convinced Owen Murray to translate it. Tollefsen travelled the world playing concerts.  The book retells his story through an in-depth interview by Faukstad and lists his recordings and his compositions.  It all makes fascinating reading and gives an insight into the life of a concert artist back then which will no doubt draw comparisons with today’s modern globe-trotting concert accordionists. This book is wonderful way for today’s younger generation of artists to discover the story of a mid 20th Century classical accordion trailblazer.

From his humble beginnings playing Norwegian folk music, Toralf Tollefsen took the accordion to the dizzy heights of the Royal Albert Hall as far back as the 1940s.  I met him in the 1980s at Caister with my then accordion teacher Frank Lilley who had met him in Oslo during the war.  He was playing free bass accordion then and it was fascinating to see the journey this man had made.  I knew him through my father’s record of him playing some compelling arrangements of Heart of Paris (G.Auric), Pizzicato Waltz (G. Boulanger), Bel Viso (P. Frosini)and Tomerhugger Dans (Tollefsen).  He was a great influence for me as I’m sure he will have been in the formation of other professional accordionists.

Romano Viazzani