Bernard Stepien, Solo Recordings Project with Johannes Welsch, Sound Master

The following are samples of solo recordings by Bernard Stepien, Accordion by the great sound master, Johannes Welsch at his Dunrobin Sonic Gym. This is work in progress following some live performance at IMOO in May 2015. see Alayne McGregor's write-up on the Ottawa Jazz Scene web site.

1. Easter Bunny : (SOCAN) is an incremental composition. A rythmic pattern is repeated by adding an additional note at each cycle. Strangely, the new note is in foreground. This is a rather fascinating discovery that came up while listening to the recording and surely was never planned to be so. The original idea was to build an incremental dissonance.

2. Mollusks (take 1) : (SOCAN) is an exploration of progressive dissonances. This version of the theme is a total failure but the improvisation came out better than the second take that was clean but potentially boring...

3. Last Flake : (SOCAN) is an exploration of intervals, possibly parallel 7th or 6th. It uses the capability of this special accordion where each hand has a full 6 octaves buttonboard.

4. A -29C Night : (SOCAN) was composed in the morning after a very cold night. It is based on a bi-polar tonal centres system. But somehow, Johann Sebastian Bach got in the way...

Bernard Stepien, accordion
David Broscoe, saxophones, clarinet, oboe

Accordion Conspiracy is an extension of Bernard Stepien and David Broscoe late '90s pure saxophones project then called Breaths. Saxophonist David Broscoe is a master in multi-phonics. Broscoe has intensively studied the multi-phonics works from all the great masters like Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Roscoe Mitchell, Anthony Braxton and many others. Accordion happened to be Bernard Stepien`s first instrument initially in a classical and folkloric music context. Back in the '60s, Stepien heard Ornette Coleman and started to play in his Harmolodic music style. After switching to saxophones, Stepien neglected Jazz accordion for a few decades on the Jazz side but the emergence of French accordionist Richard Galliano and pianist Andrea Parker accordion experiments slowly restored his interest in the accordion. In 2001, Stepien had the immense privilege to study with the great master Cecil Taylor and learn how to play with sounds rather than notes. The button accordion is actually the ideal instrument for producing sounds because it enables to cover large spans of notes and produce unusual harmonies with little efforts compared to a piano. Stepien plays a Hohner Morino accordion from the late '50s that has an additional quality to produce unusual sounds in that it has a left hand that is identical to the right hand and thus enables the same capabilities as a piano. Broscoe said in an interview that the accordion is an extension multi-phonics, some tweeters called this project cinematic-style soundscapes. Obviously, the conspiracy is growing out of proportion.

Click here to view the video by OttawaJazzScene.

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Accordion Conspiracy samples

Solo Accordion samples

The following samples were recorded over a period of 18 months and show my process of exploration of the capabilities that the double keyboard (really button board) provides. Most of them were explorations of dissonances. As expected and following the teachings of both saxophonist Billy Robinson and pianist Cecil Taylor that dissonances really lead to harmonies.

Accordion Conspiracy concerts recordings