Saturday, December 06, 2008

Gus Viseur - Accordion Player (1915-1974)

GUS VISEUR - Accordéoniste (1915-1974) - GUS VISEUR - accordeonist (1915-1974)
To the latest blog Naar de laatste blog

GUS VISEUR: “The Django Accordion Player” Georg Lankester

This accordion player, composer and band leader was born on the 15th of May 1915 in the Walloon city Lessines, aboard a barge of his parents. As a kid he learned to play the accordion, fascinated by this instrument as played by his father and two brothers. Raised in Paris on board the ship, anchored since 1921 in the river Seine, he played, with his father and their accordions, at the bars in the northern part of the city. This small family band is named “JoJoJazz”. At the age of ten he accompanied vocalists in Parisian restaurants – Music has become definitely a part of his life. During the 1920s, after his father passed away, he played in cafés in Belleville and Ménilmontand and plays the bandoneon in a tango-orchestra. He also performed in cabarets. Music on three levels with the bands of Reinhardt, Viseur and Ekyan (Paris 1941) ( source Les grands orchestres de Music Hall en France - Jacques Helian)

In 1930, up to 1932, he became part of Les Deux V’s ( = the two V’s (Vaissade and Viseur)) at the Canari-bal together with accordion player Jean Vaissade, known for some early Django Reinhardt recordings. He also performed on some other bals-musettes. In the 1930s Gus played with Louis Ferrari and he becomes, nicknamed as Tatave, a sought after musician, fascinated by the manouche music of musicians like Django Reinhardt and black American jazz players.
Gus Viseur

In October 1938 Charles Delaunay produced his first SWING records, although Gus also made records for Columbia as a member of the Orchestre Musette Victor, featuring Gus on accordion, Oscar Alemán at the solo guitar, Pierre Baro Ferret on the rhythm guitar and Maurice Speilleux on bass.
JOSEPH! JOSEPH! - ORCHESTRE MUSETTE VICTOR: with Oscar Alemán and Gus Viseur (Columbia DF-2574) (9th of March 1939) ( collection Hans Koert)
Thanks to the Hot Club de France, Gus developed his music from musette and java to jazz He is one of the first, together with Louis Richardet and Gorni Kramer, to play jazz on the accordion. Gus became a great improviser on his instrument.
In 1938 Gus performed in clubs with his own quintet, featuring guitar players like Sarane- Challin- and Baro Ferret ( Matelo too now and then) and bass player Maurice Speilleux and performed in the ‘Nuit du Jazz’.
Challin Ferret - Baro Ferret - Maurice Speilleux - Gus Viseur - Jean Matelo Ferret. ( Scot Wise collection en Django, The life and music of a Gypsy Legend by M. Dregni)

He played together with saxophone player André Ekyan and guitar player Django Reinhardt in clubs like the Moulin Rouge, Normandie and Olympia and made, thanks to Delaunay, who recognized a great swing accordion player in Gus, more records for the Swing label. Listen to his ‘Swing Valse’, a tune, still performed, one of the first jazz musette-waltzes.
During the last years of the Second World War Gus played a kind of “mainstream” swing, as hot jazz wasn’t allowed by the occupiers. A German officer, who likes his music, offers him a series of concerts in Germany, but Gus refuses, afraid for the consequences. He goes into hiding. When the war is over, August 1944, he appears again, but doesn’t play an active roll in the upcoming new jazz music as played by the dozens of Americans in Europe. And the public isn’t fascinated by the accordion music any more. No more concerts and but few gigs remain.
In 1955 he starts, together with his wife, a small shop in Le Havre, but without success.They decide to leave for Canada in 1960, where he performed in a weekly TV-program in Montreal. In the late 1960s he returnes to La Douce France, but it seems that his music has been forgotten, although he makes some LPs, for Barclay and Vogue and plays together with Jo Privat.
Gus Viseur passed away on the 25th of August 1974 leaving us some great recordings, that show that he was a great swing accordionist.
Thanks to his improvisations he learned us that the accordion could be developed into a jazz instrument.
At the height of his career people compared him with Django Reinhardt ….. A great homage to Gus Viseur.

Some recordings:
Whispering 1938, - Automne Daphne 1938, Swing Valse 1940, Nuages 1942, Swing Accordéon 1971.

The repertoire as played by Gus Viseur changed from musette up to java to more jazz orientated swing music. He played several Reinhardt compositions, like Nuages, Swing ’41 and Daphne, but also American standards like Honeysuckle Rose, I Got Rhythm, Sweet Georgia Brown and the Tiger Rag.
During the 1980s and '90s several CDs were released, although hard to find. Some are very interesting like “Les inoubliables de l’accordéon” ( MM no. 7243 8 39790 2 8 ). Another one is ‘Accordeon Swing’ on Forlane no. FOR 19128 and recordings from Brussels made during the war: “Les As de Musette” no. 222006.

Georg Lankester
Translation Hans Koert

George Lankester is the writer of several articles about the French 1930s music tradition. He published last year in Dutch De geschiedenis van de (Swing) Musette en de rol van gitarist Django Reinhardt. He plays the guitar in the Quatre Tickets Du Swing.

A selected discography

Morning fox - Swing valse - Daphne - Automne = Gus Viseur Music (1938)
Whispering - Daphne - Honeysuckle rose = accordioniste Gus Viseur et l'orchestre Victor (1939)
Valse de minuit - Serenade a la mule - Joseph Joseph = Orchestre Musette Victor (1939)
Swing valse = Gus Viseur quartette (1940)
I'm getting sentimental over you -
Tiger rag - Swing 42 = Gus Viseur Orchestre (1942)
Sur la glace - Gus et Gus = Gus Deloof - Gus Viseur (1942)
Ombrages = Gus Viseur (1945)

Chansons De Paris (LP) Barclay

Gus Viseur a Bruxelles
Compositions 1934-1942 (CD) Frémeaux & Associés 1993
Accordéon "Swing" Vol. 1 (CD) Forlane 1996
Les As Du Musette: Gus Viseur A Bruxelles (CD)
De Clichy à Broadway ; jazz in paris
Les inoubliables de l'accordéon
Swing Accordion / le swing a bretelles
Squeeze Me - le jazz and swing accordion story.
Hans Koert

Information wanted ......

Can someone help me to identify this, probably French, accordion player and the members of the Pay-Pay Orquestina band, a quintet that performed in Strasbourg at the Cabaret des 4 l'Arts ( ca. 1940s?).

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