Marcel Azzola, French accordionist who played with Brel, dies age 91

Marcel Azzola blended jazz and java
Marcel Azzola blended jazz and java RFI/Edmond Sadaka

French accordionist Marcel Azzola, who played with greats including Jacques Brel, Edith Piaf, Barbara and Sid Vicious, has died at the age of 91. He'd devoted his entire life to the accordion. 


Marcel Azzola with Sid Vicious

Azzola, who was born to Italian immigrants in Paris and displayed his musical ability at a young age, was credited with using his rare technical mastery of one of France’s most emblematic instruments to adapt it to the world of jazz.

His skill for lighting up the accordion drew the admiration of Jacques Brel who famously shouted "Chauffe Marcel" (go for it Marcel!) on the recording of Vesoul.

He also had a rock 'n' roll phase, and played on Anarchie pour le UK on the Sex Pistols' The Great rock 'n' roll swindle. He recalls meeting [Johnny] Rotten in Paris (in French).

He was also known for his contribution to the soundtracks of dozens of films, including Jacques Tati’s Mon Oncle.

Marcel Azzola

His partner, Lina Bossati, who accompanied him on piano, said Azzola had died on Monday morning at his home west of Paris.

“His heart gave out,” she told AFP.

“He was a great musician and no less great a man,” I am devastated,” jazz guitarist Christian Escoudie, who often played with Azzola, wrote on Facebook.


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