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Get to Know Accordionist Vincent Peirani, Winner of France's Most Prestigious Jazz Prize

Vincent Peirani is an accordionist and composer who, earlier this month, won Album of the Year in the prestigious Victoires du Jazz, an annual awards ceremony in France. On this edition of My Music, we’ll join Peirani on a listening tour of his winning album, Living Being II - Night Walker (ACT Music).

Like the Grammys, the Victoires du Jazz are determined by a large body of voting members in the music industry. Peirani has now won three of these awards in his career, including one in the category of “Instrumental Revelation,” in 2014.

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Credit Quentinprod
Vincent Peirani receives his Victoire du Jazz Award in Paris

As that phrase implies, one thing that makes Peirani unique, and also distinctly French, is the instrument he plays. The accordion has a firm place in the history of French popular culture, specifically with genres like chanson — but the instrument isn’t typically associated with jazz. In modern times, it has often been characterized as gauche

As we’ll hear in the episode, Peirani amusingly addresses these obstacles, admitting that he didn’t have much say in his musical fate. His accordion-infatuated father demanded he play the instrument, despite Peirani often feeling like the laughingstock of his peers.

Through his focus and his fearlessness, often charging the stage at Parisian jam sessions, Peirani began winning audiences over. He eventually received invitations to play in a hodgepodge of musical settings — with African griot masters, thrash metal rockers, flamenco serenaders, and everything in between. 

Peirani’s true passion for rock, classical music, and, of course jazz, are delicately woven together on his Living Being II - Night Walker. He is currently on tour in Europe; see his website for details.  

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For more than 15 years, Simon Rentner has worked as a host, producer, broadcaster, web journalist, and music presenter in New York City. His career gives him the opportunity to cover a wide spectrum of topics including, history, culture, and, most importantly, his true passion of music from faraway places such as Europe, South America, and Africa.