Issue 28 04/2004

FolkWorld CD ReviewsDog

Dobrek bistro "live"
Label: Extraplatte; 570-2; 2003; Playing time: 64.50 min
Dobrek bistro is a group around the Polish accordionist Krzystof Dobrek. Together with Aliosha Biz on violin, Achim Tang on bass and Luis Ribeiro on percussion he recorded the groups debut cd Bistro live. The group performed for the first time in 2000 in Vienna at the international accordion festival and since then the group got more known around Austria and just among the country borders. On Bistro live the group brings live recordings of Dobrek's own compositions. His music reminds of Roma music in combination with jazz, salsa, Jewish and many other forms of worldmusic. The four musicians are of high quality and I'm surprised about the good sound quality and the high level of the compositions. It's refreshing to hear that these musician play with pleasure and passion which creates an atmosphere in which each of them gives the best of himself. Strong improvisations, surprisingly mixtures of styles, sometimes small and intimate and sometimes fast and full fire. A strong debut of four great musicians from which I would love to hear more in future.
Eelco Schilder

Khupe "Hey misher"
Label: Yellowjacket music; 010403; 2003; Playing time: 56.20 min
Khupe is a duo consisting out of Christian Dawid on Klarinett and Sanne Moricke on Accordion. Dawid is known from his collaboration with Budowitz and worked with Frank London's klezmer brass all-stars. Moricke is known as guest from the Transsylvanians and Frank London as well. Under the name of Khupe they create a dialogue in Yiddish instrumental music for accordion and Clarinet. The traditional tunes are played in a very small and intimate way and because of the sober instrumentation Khupe brings back the real intensity of a tune. They go into the essence of the music and show the listener where this music is really about. This cd doesn't need more recommendation, it's pure quality which I enjoy with my eyes closed feeling that these musicians manage to really get me with their naked interpretations of the Yiddish culture.
Eelco Schilder

Tan "Yar diye diye / Longing for you"
Label: Oriente musik ; 47; 2003; Playing time: 45.40 min
Tan is a German/Turkish group of five musicians who play mostly Traditionals from several Turkish regions and a few own compositions which are influenced by the traditional music. Tan mixes the traditional sounds with jazz music into a very open style of music. I even would call it a pop music cd considering it's middle of the road character. The laid-back vocals of Ergun Aktoprak fit perfectly into the easy wall of instrumentation and I think a big audience will love the sound of this band. Because I'm more a lover of traditional music than a lover of jazz I do miss the emotion of the Turkish traditional music in this album. The mix with jazz makes it all so smooth, so easy listening that I'm longing to some exploding percussion or some real emotion. Actually it's the final song Giresun Karsilamasi that comes closest to what I mean by this. The exiting didegridoo start promises a real musical adventure but within two minutes the music changes in this pop-jazz sound again. Nice cd, as I wrote before, probably a big audience will love it but for me personally it's to easy listening.
Eelco Schilder

Veronica Mortensen "Pieces in a puzzle"
Label: Sundance; 9054-2; 2003; Playing time: 42.37 min
Quite an unknown name, this Veronica Mortensen. Although she did tour with the famous Danish singer Sebastian, this debut cd is the first real musical deed of this singer. Mortensen has a beautiful voice with edges of soul and jazz. The cd starts with an easy going pop-song Garden of my past including background rap and a good programming. One of the highlights is the second song Julie. Fantastic vocals, great jazz accompaniment make this song into an intense dreamy ballad. How different is a song like I am here for you, one of the other highlights. Triphop mixed with sample brought in a style that is known from Bjork. This song has definitely the potential to become a top ten hit anywhere in Europe with the right promotion. I'm very positive about this debut cd by Veronica Mortensen. The way she mixes Triphop with jazz, rock and pop is very nice. But most of all I like her rich voice which, especially in the ballads, is warm, tender and very expressive.
Eelco Schilder

Daud Khan "Tribute to Afghanistan"
Label: Dunya; fy 8077; 2004; Playing time: 48.54 min
Khan was born in Kabul in 1955. Here he studied the Robab which is an original lute instrument from Afghanistan with a long tradition in the culture of this country. He was a student of the famous Ustad Muhammad Umar who was the most famous Robab player in traditional and classical music. Besides the Robab, Khan studied the Indian Sarod which is related to the Robab. Khan has won several international prices and performed on many stages all over Europe. His latest cd Tribute to Afghanistan contains a collection of six old and new folk tunes. Khan is accompanied by Yama Karim on tabla and Dorran Ahmad Sadozai on tanbura. The trio managed to record an impressive record which is of extremely high quality. Khan is a real master on his instrument and his interpretations of the tunes are rich unique and very intense. Sometimes a bit dark but always with emotion this cd gives a beautiful look into the richness of the Afghan culture. The cd contains a 15 minutes video with interview and live pictures. A highly recommended cd which intrigues from the first till the last minute.
Eelco Schilder

Vladimir Denisenkov "Guzulka"
Label: Dunya; fy 8071; 2004; Playing time: 50.24 min
Denissenkov is an accordionist from the Ukraine and guzulka is his second solo cd for the Dunya label. together with a group of fine guest musicians he managed to make a very nice cd. The eleven songs of the cd are own compositions (Except eterlesi which is traditional) but are clearly rooted in Eastern-Europe and Russia but also in Italy. This is no coincident as this are the places Denisenkov feels connected to. The power of this cd is that Denisenkov managed to make compositions that clearly have their influence from a certain region but yet they all fit together as if they come from one world. The great female vocals, strong accordion and nice arrangements do the rest. Guzulka is an open, friendly cd. It has the happiness, like in Maricka, the emotional sadness in the traditional Eterlesi and the virtuosity in Chasing orges which reminds of an old circus which just entered town. It's easy to get carried away by this cd onto a beautiful trip by the edges of Europe.
Eelco Schilder

Wiener tschuschenkapelle "Exil"
Label: Extraplatte; ex 505-2; 2003; Playing time: 56.34 min
Already the sixth cd of the Wiener tschuschenkapelle and if you expect Austrian brass music, you are very wrong. The band consists of musicians from several East-European countries such as Macedonia, former Yugoslavia and Austria. The music folksongs and tunes from the Balkan with one own composition and a Russian and Turkish song. The style is best described as Balkan brass with a good touch of Balkan blues. It has strong accordion parts, jazzy Contrabass parts and a roaring clarinet. The tunes can be uplifting like Moja mala or more intimate like Zuluf dokulmus yuze which has a fantastic Saz and vocals by Haydar Sari. The songs can also be a bit to happy like Puste su kale or seoska sam lola which are for dancing pleasure. Exile is a very nice, varied cd which is highly enjoyable. I personally prefer the intimate songs above the happy dancing tunes but that's just a personal preference and actually an unnecessary comment because this cd has enough to offer to keep attention for the whole 56 minutes.
Eelco Schilder

Zydeco playboys "Superficial Satisfaction"
Label: Private; 030201; 2003; Playing time: 64.48 min
The Louisiana Zydeco music is already a mixture of different styles. This mix gives you the opportunity to play the music as you like; with more blues of more funk, in the styles of Boozoo Chavis or Clifton Chenier. The German Oliver Kraus prefers the chromatic accordion style of Clifton Chenier and Buckweat Zydeco. One could hear this on the first Zydeco Playboys album, but on this second one, superficial satisfaction?, Oliver grows more towards an own style. He writes almost all the material in the typical Zydeco-idiom. There are good strong songs like What you're awaitin´for?, Cajun boots and Oh Rosalina who will lead you to the dance-floor. But there are also experimental songs like Voodoo in the Bayou and a swampy version of Van Morrisons Brown eyed girl. Kraus also wrote a Tex-Mex song called Vamos danzar Tejano. Though it's a good song, I don't like the combination of both ethnic music styles. Tex-Mex is in a way too weak to combine it with the powerful Creole Zydeco music. I especially like the full and warm accordion sound, and this is powered by a solid back-up band. Zydeco Playboys is a tight band, just what you need for good Zydeco music. Lets have a party!
Ron Janssen

Ray Abshire and friends "For old times sake"
Label: Swallow records; sw-6173; 2003; Playing time: 59.44 min
Honest and authentically Cajun music is what we hear on this delicious album. The spicy music has its own colours and strength. Ray Abshire is a cousin of the well known Cajun accordionist Nathan Abshire. Though Ray stood in his shadow, he already played with big names like the Balfa Brothers. But Ray took a very long time-off. In these seventeen years he rarely appeared for an audience. In the early nineties Ray re-emerged to the traditional Cajun music. Now one can see and hear him on all kinds of Cajun meetings and festivals. His traditional accordion-style never faded away. The soulful accordionist recorded this album with fiddler Courtney Grangér (Balfa Toujours and years ago with Kevin Naquin), fiddler Kevin Wimmer (also Balfa Toujours) and guitarist André Michot (Lost Bayou Ramblers, Les Freres Michot). This album is steeped in the history of cajunmusic. There are songs and tunes by Nathan Abshire, Iry Lejeune, Lawrence Walker, Belton Richard and Dennis McGee. But Ray wrote also a some of the material. Courtney and Ray succeed each other with the vocal parts. The twin-fiddle style is impressive and in combination with the rough sounding Cajun accordion it leads you to the front porch of a wooden house in Cajun-country. The nasal singing is rooted in a long tradition of deportation and travelling. The friendly and warm music gives you a good feeling. Eighteen tracks long one can enjoy the happy sound of cajunmusic. Here are a few of the finest musicians playing!
Ron Janssen

Jim McKillop "The Floating Bowhand" [Video DVD]
Label: The Online Music School; OLMSDVD22; 2003; Playing time: ca. 105 min
Traditional art, modern technology! Jim McKillop is a highly skilled fiddle player, instrument maker and teacher based in Dundalk. He was born in Cushendall in the Glens of Antrim, Northern Ireland. Starting on the accordion, he became interested in the fiddle not until the age of 26 in 1972. But just four years later without any formal tuition, he won three of the most important fiddle competitions, namely The All Ireland Fleadh Ceoil, The Fiddler of Aileach and The Fiddler of Oriel competitions. Jims interest in the music and technique of Fritz Kreisler (whom he first heard on tenor Count John McCormack's recordings), led him to explore both fingerboard positions other than first position, and the technical requirements necessary for good tone production. A trained marine engineer, he gradually developed a unique system of violin tuition designed to produce a full and colourful tone, known as the "JMcK method". The result is that Jim's performances and recordings have been described: He's a fiddler and a half.
The "Floating Bowhand" video is a musical documentary of Jim McKillop both as a firstclass musician and fiddle maker. Jim is shown playing at All Ireland Fleadhs, in pub sessions, in the studio, manufacturing violins, teaching etc. Its central theme however is "The Musical Giants" concert in Garter Lane Arts Centre in Waterford City, featuring Gerry O'Connor (banjo, mandolin), Bobby Gardiner (accordion -> FW#7), Zoe Conway (viola -> FW#24), Garry O'Briain (mandocello, keyboards), Dick Farrelly (guitar), John Cunningham (bouzouki), and James Blennerhassett (double bass). Altogether 58 different Irish, Scottish and American tunes; a large selection of slow airs and five of Jim's own compositions. Delivered by an impressive fiddle maestro, e.g. on his "Full Moon Waltz" Jim's fiddle is tuned to an A minor chord, and he's picking pizzicato.
"The Floating Bowhand" is a very professional production, available as DVD video and VHS both in PAL and American NTSC versions.
The Online Music School Ltd.
Walkin' T:-)M

Ceoltone "Ride a Mile"
Label: Own Label; 2003; Playing time: 24:21 min
Behold, my brethren, I bring ye good tidings. For unto ye is born a new trad band, of the house and lineage of the Gael. The baby was baptized Ceoltone and, thanks to the musical background of its members, may soon rise as a sparkling star in the sky of Celtic music. Ceoltone are a Galway-based group of four members, at least three of whom embody the cultural values and practices of what traditional music stands for both in Ireland and abroad. The lives of Dan Brouder (button accordion), Seán Halpenny (bodhrán, perc) and Declan Corey (mandolin, bouzouki) sound suspiciously similar: Stemming from large musical families and immersed in music from the day they were born, all three of them took up various instruments while still young and tender, cultivating their talents under the guidance of such renowned musicians as Timmy Collins, Bob Davenport, Scan Tester, Paul McNevin and Donnacha Dwyer, to become All-Ireland finalists or even champions in their teenage years. -- Moving from promise to achievement, they performed countless concerts in the four corners of the earth, from China to the United States, as well as, between them, having appeared on more than 20 CDs to date (Lia Luachra [-> FW#16], Dúchas, Tidal Motion, Josephine Marsh Band, Dejimba, etc.). The fourth member, Joe, however, counterpoints his colleague's careers, for he appeared on the trad scene not before the mid-1990's; nevertheless, Joe has developed rapidly into a skillful singer and guitar player. Ceoltone have only just produced a five-track one-take CD titled Ride a Mile, as a small sample of their work. This mini-album reflects their influences and careers, as it contains a collection of traditional jigs, reels and airs as well as a recording of Paul Brady's song A Youth That's Inclined to Ramble. Regardless of their contemporary-looking line-up, Ceoltone's versions resound with the depth of the Irish musical heritage. After they have finished their current tour of Western Europe, the second half of 2004 will hopefully see the first full-length album of Ceoltone. So if you cannot get hold of the appetizer, don't let the chance of the main dish go by!
Erik Margraf

Cass Meurig "Crwth"
Label: Fflach; CD272H; 2004; Playing time: 45.23 min
Cass Meurig is a widely acclaimed fiddle and crwth player specialising in traditional Welsh folk music, being a member of Fernhill and Pigyn Clust. Cass is one of the few players of the Crwth (pronounced crooth), a six-stringed medieval bowed lyre. The plectra played lyre dates back to early historic times (there is an illustration from an Egyptian tomb painting ca. 1900 B.C.). After the invention of the musical bow (ca. 800 A.D.), a fingerboard was added and the instrument evolved into a bowed lyre. Like the harp in Ireland, the crwth in Wales was an instrument played at the courts of the Welsh medieval aristocracy. At one time, it was widely used in Europe, but by 1800 crwth playing could be heard only in the Celtic highlands of Wales. However, it couldn't compete to the fiddle and their modern repertoire of country dance tunes and ceased to be played. Only the last ten years have seen a revival of crwth playing in Early Music ensembles, and there are now a number of performers and several crwth makers (e.g. Kate Ronconi-Woollard of Swansea's Rag Foundation -> FW#19).
Cass Meirig's "crwth" is the world's first solo recording of the instrument and its associated music, featuring as well the hurdy-gurdy of Nigel Eaton and a second crwth of Bob Evans. Evans is one of the pioneers of the crwth revival, taking the Robert ap Huw manuscripts as a musical source (-> FW#18). The crwth has six strings tuned gg'c'cd'd'', and the melody is played on four of the six strings with the other two acting as bass drones. Its gut strings produce a robust but delicate and sweet sound creating much atmosphere. There is a certain resemblance to the nyckelharpa, and even the tunes, all but two are traditional Welsh, sound like Scandinavian polskas on first impression. She is a gifted performer on this instrument, but above all Cass has to be hailed for introducing a different sound once again.
Cass is also the editor of "Alawon John Thomas", a manuscript of Welsh fiddle music from 1752. See T:-)M's Night Shift in this FW issue.
Walkin' T:-)M

Tim Dennehy "Between the Mountains and the Sea"
Label: Sceilig Records; SRCD004; 2003; Playing time: 55.23 min
"Between the Mountains and the Sea - Tim Dennehy sings the songs of Sigerson Clifford" - so it's full title. Cahersiveen writer Sigerson Clifford (1913-85) dedicated his life to capturing the essence of his native Kerry in stories and verse. His stomping ground was the village of Cathair Saidhbhín (Stone Fort of Sarah) at Iveragh Peninsula in South West Ireland, ot better known as tourist destination Ring of Kerry. His best known piece "Boys of Barr na Sráide" - the town it climbs the mountain and looks upon the sea - made it into the Irish Ballad Hall of Fame and has been sung by the likes of Christy Moore, Niamh Parsons and Ron Kavana (-> FW#13). Ninety years after Sigerson's birth, fellow Cahersiveen singer Tim Dennehy (-> FW#24) and his accompanist Garry O'Briain put new life into his poems. "Boys" was an anthem at every gathering when Tim grew up in South Kerry, later as a young teacher in Dublin he began putting other poems of Sigerson to music. His work celebrating his hometown, its scenery, its people and their everyday activities, but Sigerson also reflects his Civil Service time: they chained my bones to an office stool and my soul to a clock's cold hands. On one track Sigerson's wife Maire reads a tribute poem by M.J. McManus, the title track was penned by Tim as he made his way home from Sigerson Clifford's funeral in 1985. "Between the Mountains and the Sea" puts another attraction on the map of Kerry: And when the wheel of life runs down and when peace comes over me, o lay me down in that old town between the hills and sea. I'll take my sleep in those green fields the place my life began, where the Boys of Barr na Sráide went hunting for the wran. On the monument dedicated to the ballad poet, the inscription reads: Whispering across the half-door of the mind, for always I am Kerry.
Sceilig Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Dr Faustus "The First Cut"
Label: Fellside; FECD177; 2003; Playing time: 56.59 min
The group's first cut, and the cover picture shows the four blokes trying to perform surgery on the English concertina. The quartet Dr Faustus has no novel cure, but presents the traditional British medicine show. Tim van Eyken (melodeon, guitar -> FW#10, FW#21, FW#22), Robert Harbron (concertina, guitar, bassoon, fiddle -> FW#21, FW#22), Benji Kirkpatrick (guitar, bouzouki, harmonica -> FW#25) and Paul Sartin (fiddle, oboe) set out in 1998 to fill what they regarded as an English void on the folk scene. A few tunes both traditional and original, including "Dr Fausters' Tumblers" that originally inspired the band's name, but chiefly a selection of traditional British songs. There's some old friends pirates and highwaymen, soldiers and abandoned maidens, standards such as "Henry Martin", "Trooper & Maid", "Newry Town". The riddle song "Cambric Shirt" is a variant of the well-known "Scarborough Fair", "Dr Faustus" comes from the Oxford Nursery Songbook. They say , the Doctor has a remedy for everything but poverty, but with such rich legacy at hand... Very English, very smart indeed.
Fellside Recordings
Walkin' T:-)M

Filska "A Thousand Miles Away"
Label: Foot Stompin'; CDFSR1723; 2003; Playing time: 44.20 min
The old Shetland word filska means something like mischievous and high spirited. The traditional Shetland band Filska began playing as a band ten years ago, then under the guidance of Joyce Reid on piano. Joyces' daughters Jenna and Bethany, and their friend Gemma Wilson, are still in the band, a vigorous fiddle trio. Add guitar player Andrew Tulloch and you get a promising outfit. Promising? Filska might be still young, but musically quite matured. The Fab Four play traditional tunes from the Shetlands, the Scottish mainland and Ireland, self-written material by fiddle and accordion player Jenna, piano and fiddle player Bethany, and fiddle player Gemma Wilson, plus contemporary songs by Andrew. One day, it might take them a thousand miles away.
Foot Stompin' Records
Walkin' T:-)M

The Beaton Family of Mabou "Cape Breton Fiddle & Piano Music"
Label: Smithonian Folkways; SFW CD 40507; 2004; Playing time: 74.22 min
Since the early 1800s Scots began arriving on Cape Breton Island, part of the Canadian maritime province of Nova Scotia. The settlers brought their music to the new world where they continued and preserved the tradition, while music in Scotland underwent significant changes: Jerry Holland (-> FW#3), Ashley MacIsaac (-> FW#10, FW#10), Buddy (-> FW#17 and Natalie MacMaster (-> FW#1, FW#1, FW#11, FW#24, FW#27) , Jennifer Roland (-> FW#7), to name just a few. Cape Breton music is in service to dance first of all, syncopated piano accompaniment and the fiddle delivers a steady beat, avoiding the sound of open strings and playing one note per bow stroke. While older players have a lot of dirt in their playing, or Gaelic making reference to the gutteral sounds of that language, younger players prefer a cleaner sound. People stepdance and dance squares to strathspeys, jigs and reels. Fiddlers will also play marches and airs. While hornpipes are usually played with dotted rhythms, Cape Breton fiddlers prefer to smooth them out and playing them as reels.
Alexander Beaton arrived in the Mabou Coal Mines area on the western side of Cape Breton Island from Lochaber, Scotland, in 1809; a centre for Gaelic speakers to this day and also home of the Rankin family. In 1978, Rounder Records released an album titled "The Beatons of Mabou". It featured two generations of the Beaton family, fiddler Donald Angus Beaton (1912-82) and his wife, pianist Elizabeth MacEachen Beaton (*1918), were joined by their sons Kinnon and Joey. In 2002 another generation takes lead, among them Kinnon, his daughter Andrea, and nephew Glenn Graham. The gifted family performs tunes of the anonymous fiddle masters, of Donald Angus and his lot (Angus composed about 50 tunes, many of them have become standards), of Brenda Stubbert, one of today's most celebrated Cape Breton fiddlers, John Morris Rankin, Nathaniel Gow, and James Scott Skinner (-> FW#24, FW#25). That's for sure, this family is able to drive 'er, i.e. make dancing neccessary. Most of the Beatons were coal miners, explains Ashley MacIsaac. So in the music you can hear the accent of those strong, hard-working people.
Smithonian Folkways; German distribution: Sunny Moon
Walkin' T:-)M

Mark Evans "A Rival Heart"
Label: Own label; 2003; Playing time: 54.25 min
Mark Evans grew up within a community of musicians from the Irish music scene in England, including the Conneely family (-> FW#21), Kevin Crawford (-> FW#27) and Karen Tweed (-> FW#22). His inspiration being the flute playing of Matt Molloy, Planxty (-> FW#27) and the Bothy Band. In the 1990s he joined box and fiddle duo Eoghan O'Sullivan and Gerry Harrington (-> FW#27). Upon his relocation to the USofA, he joined the music community in the Baltimore-Washington area, many musicians feature on "A Rival Heart", best known are Billy McComiskey (accordion) and Zan McLoud (bouzouki, mandolin, guitar). Mark's singing and bouzouki playing is of the same kind as Andy Irvine (-> FW#5, FW#11, FW#23) and Andy M. Stewart (whose "Fisherman's Song" is featured), and their respective bands, Planxty (-> FW#27) and Silly Wizard. The title track is a variant of a very old English song entitled "A Rival Hath Stolen My True Love Away", the new melody is inspired by the Irish air "Casadh an tSugain" (-> FW#5, FW#24). Mark plays flute and whistle as well and he doesn't stay away from experimentation: The reel "Cedars of Lebanon" is slowed down to a hornpipe; Ed Reavy's hornpipe "The Street Player", already played as a reel, is performed as a slow reel; "John Boyle's" is a slow jig (never heard of that kind). Andy Thurston plays the tiple - a small instrument associated with Colombia similar to a ukulele, an instrument already introduced to Irish music by Dervish (-> FW#26) - to capture the sound of pealing bells in the accompaniment of "The Bells of Tipperary". Lovely album with excellent singing and playing.
Mark currently lives in Gloucestershire, England, and is preparing a schedule of concerts and tours for 2004.
Mark Evans
Walkin' T:-)M

Patsy Watchorn "Hearts on Fire"
Label: Rare Auld Times; PGW/001; 2003; Playing time: 57:03 min
Along with Tommy Byrne and Luke Kelly, Patsy Watchorn ranks among the most highly-reputed balladeers of Irish music. Since his former band The Dublin City Ramblers, who had collected gold, platinum and multi-platinum awards, had split up in 1995, Patsy has continued his successful career as a solo singer. After the release of a greatest-hits collection in April 2002, he has now produced the first album on his own label, Rare Auld Times. Hearts on Fire assembles fourteen ballads on a full-length CD, some of them immensely popular, such as "The Foggy Dew", "Step It Out Mary", "Song for Ireland", or "Only Our Rivers Run Free", some of them of a more topical nature, such as the title track, written by Frank Hennessy. The arrangements and interpretations of these classic songs are as superb as Patsy's smack and smoky voice. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but if you're into the special Dublin City blend, then you will easily swallow gallons of it.
Patsy Wachorn
Erik Margraf

More English CD Reviews: Page 4 - Page 5 - Page 1 - Page 2
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page 2
Overview: CD Review Contents

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© The Mollis - Editors of FolkWorld; Published 04/2004

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