Notes by Mort Goode, 1956:
It may sound a bit crazy, but I just don't recall ever hearing an accordion play anything but 'happy' music.
Oh, I know that there are times when the instrument takes on a sort of tear-in-the-beer-garden sentimentality, but even then, somehow, it's buoyant and bouncy and brisk, though it's always had the feeling of old world built in. The accordion always seems to be around when it's waltz-time or polka-playing or hop-along happiness.
Or it has been ... up to DON LEE and "Crazy Rhythm." Don has gotten a new 'happy' sound out of or into the squeeze-box that is as modern as the electronics he uses to create a satisfying excitement. He has combined a montage of his musical talents (Don is playing each and every instrument you hear on these sides) with a solid knowledge of the magic of electronics (Don engineered the multiple recordings and jelled the ‘tracks’). The sound is fresh and imaginative and creative.
Don’t get the idea that this is a one-man band testing a lot of not-quite finished musical abilities. Don is practiced and perfect. His arrangements are clean and crisp and qualitative. He is stimulated and stimulating.
Don Lee is young, but he is no correspondence-course cacophony. He started studying the accordion when he was 8 years old and was making radio appearances and sight-transpositions when he was 9. That was around a town called Lansing, Michigan.
Five years later Don was teaching accordion at a local music school and was playing clarinet and/or piano (as the case might have been) in the Eastern High School Band and Orchestra. That five years later made him all of 14. Naturally, he had to learn as much more about music as a lad with that much talent had to know so he was coasting through courses in harmony and theory at Michigan State University. Some of that side of his abilities shows up in 3 tunes included in “Crazy Rhythm”: “Echo, Echo, Echo,” “Cordy Boogie,” and “Barc-A-Roll.”
When Don was 18, he had a large-sized history to recount. He’d had a lot of radio and TV appearances and had been featured at hotels like The Hilton in Chicago when it was the Stevens, The Sherman, The Palmer House in Chicago, and the New Yorker in New York.
At that time (Don was 18), and he opened his first accordion studio in Lansing, Michigan. A year later, there was a second one in Mason, Michigan. They are now Michigan’s largest exclusive accordion studios and have become famous around the Midwest because of their Accordion Orchestra.
His knowledge and training in electronics goes back almost as far as the beginnings of his accordion training. Actually, it started when he was 12, and his sound-engineering has a basis in the experimentation and pioneering Don has done with the professional equipment he has been accumulating since then.
“Crazy Rhythm” sounds off the debut of an intriguing talent who has added the dimension of electronics to an excitement of performance. This ‘track-record’ (these multiple recordings have been multiplied as high as 12 times on some of these tunes) is not child’s-play. It’s professional and promising and prodigious.
In the language of the hipster, “Crazy Rhythm” is ‘Crazy, man, CrazY-y-y-y!” … (English Translation: it’s Happy, Hearty, and Hear-Marked for a hitherto un-new sound).