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Thanks to Lawrence Welk’s schmaltzy polkas, the accordion has a lousy reputation in the U.S. Seen more as a comic novelty than a musical instrument, it is scorned by most of the popular-music audience. But as any zydeco fan can attest, there’s more than one way to squeeze a squeezebox. Planet Squeezebox, a nearly overwhelming three-disc set, presents over 40 of those ways. From solo French café balladry to Nigerian juju, from avant-classical composition to Egyptian belly dance to, yes, Polish-American polka, it’s all here. Though the extensive notes in the artfully produced book that accompanies the set boast of the accordion’s ability to handle rhythm, harmony, and melody simultaneously, the most pleasing selections employ the squeezebox’s distinctive timbres more narrowly. Whether it provides a speedy and intense rhythmic foundation or, conversely, supplies only a melody while other instruments support it with a danceable bottom, the accordion is shown to advantage when it doesn’t try to do all things at once. Such genre efforts as Attwenger’s drum-assisted Austrian punk “h.e. zaum,” Alice Hall’s jazz-scat, acoustic-bass-aided “What Is This Thing Called Love,” and Brave Combo’s brass-filled “Potato Chips Polka” all share a similar frenetic beat, while Esteban Jordan’s wonderfully bouncy Tex-Mex melody on “Cuando Te Conoci” benefits from the assistance of a tight rhythm section.

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