Rob Curto is an accordionist, composer, and pianist based in Philadelphia and New York City.
Curto has a prolific career touring and composing, gaining notoriety for his mastery of the piano accordion, exciting harmonic blends, and general musicianship across genres and musical boundaries.
He is a founding member of the “Brazilian Bluegrass” band Matuto, which gained a following across the US and Canada, was selected to showcase at WOMEX, and toured extensively across Africa, Asia, Europe, and other areas, chosen to represent the US State Department overseas.
He has released several CDs and EPs as a band leader and is a prolific composer/arranger, including his latest musical project, the unabashedly accordion-centric American roots band, Fish Harmonics, featuring smokin’ accordion along with bass fiddle, groove-oriented drumming, and old-timey strings. Fish Harmonics’ debut EP, ONE, was released in 2019 and is available streaming in all the places.
His musical collaborations include performing and recording with Latin Grammy award winner Lila Downs, Klezmer clarinetist David Krakauer, trumpeter/composer Frank London, Punjabi Indian singer Kiran Ahluwalia, and icon of Brazilian Forró, the great accordionist Dominguinhos. He is widely regarded as forró’s foremost ambassador in the States. An early devotee of North American swing music, bebop piano, funk, rock, and blues, he has combined these influences with his mastery of their Brazilian counterparts forró, chorinho, samba, maracatu, and frevo to produce stunning new results. He spent years living and playing in Brazil, completely absorbing and interpreting the country’s musical traditions.
Since relocating to Philadelphia, Curto has developed an interest in Irish button box, adding B/C button accordion to his repertoire. He studies with NEA National Heritage Fellow and multi-All Ireland Champion, Billy McComisky, and occasionally All Ireland Champions John Whelan and PJ Hernon. Curto is profoundly interested in the (relatively) recent history of accordion in traditional Irish music, a passion that has brought him zig-zagging around West Kerry and Co. Sligo, joining sessions and absorbing tradition and tunes.
Curto combines his breadth and depth of experience on piano and accordion in a solo show, (Mostly) Solo Curto, featuring originals and standards exploring the winding path of both his career and instrument of choice around the world. A creative collaborator, his show often includes guest musicians from decades of playing across genres, but at the heart is always a guy and his box.
Curto has many compositional credits, including his own albums as well as TV (Bear in the Big Blue House), documentaries (The Same Heart), independent compositions, and other commissions for theater, film, and commercials.
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“The story of the accordion involves long journeys, unexpected connections, sublime mixtures and grand emotions. I hope, through my work, to be part of that story, and as this instrument has supported and carried me forward, to return the favor.”