The Accordion Artistry of Pete Jolly (1955)


This series came into being in response to the demand of the young student-musician who wishes for some opportunity to study the solos of the many jazz greats. From it he can naturally gain technically. And at the same time have more pleasurable hours of practice than those afforded by the antiquated scale-book studies. Also, with the inclusion of the basic melody and its chord symbols, he is given an opportunity for theoretical study. Thus, many new doors are opened.

It is hoped that in this series we are fulfilling this wish and that he, in his climb to musical success, will enjoy many profitable hours through its usage.

Pete Jolly


 I hope that this book will be able to show the many interested accordionists that the accordion can be a very successful jazz instrument, and that it is an instrument in which many interwoven lines or parts may be played; therefore the possibilites are unlimited.

One of the important factors in playing these solos is that you do not use the basses (left hand) for continuous rhythmic accompaniment; instead, they are used as a bass line (part) generally consisting of roots, played mainly in the counter and fundamental rows. The rhythm must be felt and implied. If more rhythm is desired I would suggest playing those arrangements with rhythm instruments such as bass and drums.

When improvising, the occasional use of roots with your left hand will help you feel the chord changes and also give you a rhythmic lift. Try to think of your right hand as being a horn or horns. A great deal of the time I consider my right hand as a single horn playing just one line. Incidentally, when you are playing a series of chords with your right hand, sustaining the basses can be very effective.

You should never open or close the bellows while sustaining a whole note or in the middle of a phrase. The bellows may be compared to the lungs of a wind instrumentalist. At the end of each phrase a breath is taken and the direction of the bellows is reversed.

I believe you will find new ideas and freedom to be gained by playing the accordion in this manner.

-Pete Jolly


Pete Jolly’s study of the accordion commenced three years after he was born; June 5, 1932, in New Haven, Conn. Along with his father’s instruction and that of Joe Biviano of the New York Accordion Center, Pete widened his musical interests to take in the piano.

Pete now records exclusively for R. C. A. Victor. Is a featured member of the Shorty Rogers Giants and is generally recognized as one of the leading exponents of modern jazz on both piano and accordion.

The publisher

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