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Orville Brown: African American New York Jazz Accordionist in the 1930s

February 8, 2018

Accordion hero Alan Zisman of the Vancouver Squeezebox Circle found this fantastic photo of Orville Brown’s band taken in New York in the mid 1930s. (From Banjo/guitarist Danny Baker’s memoirs A Life in Jazz (1986).

1930s jazz band. 6 black men with trumpet, drums, accordion/piano, guitar, 2 saxes

It’s extra-remarkable because Brown has a Luttbeg duel-piano keyboard accordion! (Patented 1931).
I gather there were only about a dozen of those made. Perhaps Brown was a pianist who wanted to pick up accordion, but didn’t realize the keyboard bass was impractical? 
Old Luttbeg piano-bass keyboard accordion with several broken keys
Kimric at Smythe’s Accordion Centre in Oakland has an instruction booklet in case you have trouble picking it up.
Instruction book for the Luttbeg piano-bass keyboard accordion ($1)
Definitely adding Brown to the growing (still small) list of African American jazz accordionists.
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