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Jazz Is His Main Squeeze

Valley Life | jazz riffs

Frank Marocco takes the accordion to a different level.

July 28, 2000|ZAN STEWART | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

There was a point in accordion player Frank Marocco's career when his instrument had fallen out of favor and he turned to the piano to make a living. At one point during this period, in the early to mid-1970s, he worked with Les Brown's Band of Renown for four years.

Then Marocco got some solid advice from his friend, the late acclaimed studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco, who asked him why be a dime-a-dozen pianist when he could be a top-drawer accordionist.

"He was right, as usual," said Marocco, who had been featured on the soundtrack to "Dr. Zhivago" and, as a studio accordionist, had gone on to perform on scores from "Godfather III" to the recent "The Patriot."

While any kind of good music gets to Marocco--he was just as thrilled to back Luciano Pavoratti as he was to appear with bass giant Ray Brown--jazz is his thing.

"Since I grew up listening to people like Zoot Sims and Charlie Parker, I play accordion like a jazz horn player, with horn-like lines," said Marocco, who lives in Van Nuys.

He plays tonight at Geri's World coffeehouse in Hollywood. He brings along a terrific band, comprised of reed maestro Gary Foster, bass virtuoso Dave Carpenter and ace drummer Tony Marillo. The repertoire will include tunes by Gershwin, Jerome Kern, Duke Ellington, Cole Porter and Charlie Parker.

"The golden age of music," he said.

Marocco once ran his instrument through a myriad electronics, with the outcome resembling an organ. These days, he favors an acoustic presentation.

"That's the true sound of the instrument," he said. "Instead of sounding like an organ, I figure I should try to take the accordion to a different place than it's ever been before."

IN BRIEF: If you do want a bit of jazz organ, then check out the dynamic Bill Cunliffe, who plays a trimmed-down electronic keyboard, which closely emulates the famed Hammond B-3. Cunliffe, along with guitarist Jim Hershman and drummer Peter Donald, appears Wednesday at 9 p.m. at Rocco Ristorante, 2930 Beverly Glen Circle, Bel-Air. (310) 475-9807.

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BE THERE

Frank Marocco plays tonight at 8 at Geri's World, 3425 W. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. $7 cover. Call (323) 851-1350, Ext. 127.

Zan Stewart writes about jazz for the Valley Edition. He can be reached at Zansky@AOL.com.

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