FolkWorld Issue 34 11/2007

FolkWorld CD Reviews

Orchestra Bailam "Non Occidentalizzarti"
Dunya/Felmay; 3009; 2006
Fifteen years after their debut cd, the Italian band Orchestra Bailam released itís fourth cd called Non occidentalizzarti. This orchestra is a sextet which plays music from the south-east part of Europe an some own compositions composed by band member Franco Minelli. This Non occidentalizzarti is a wonderful piece of creative music. It starts with a up tempo own composition called Mussaka which has a strong drive and nice twist at the end. This opening songs shows exactly the quality of the band, good musicians, strong musical arrangements with sometimes unexpected surprises. It doesnít matter if the band plays traditional Macedonian in Giuperlika, Greek style in Ekso derthia or Yiddish in songs like Lebedik und freilach which starts with a radio station voiceover with a kind of Southern-American rhythm, an impossible start for a Yiddish tune, but it works! The radio style voiceover is a steady factor on this cd without being disturbing. Listen to Fratelli dŃlbania which starts with a fragment of a soccer game radio comment or something like that and changes into an Balkan dance. Or A narration about Rebetika which fluently changes in a conversation between two gentleman at the beach and ends in a nice Greek song. Orchestra Bailam is a band with some great musician who recorded fifteen fresh and entertaining songs and tunes that I enjoy very much. (Please feel free to boogie in the final song Non occidentalizzarti.)
Eelco Schilder

V/A "Frelik, Sher un Khusidl"
Extraplatte; pha001; 2006
With this cd Frelik, Sher un khusidl, the Austrian record label Extraplatte starts the release of a collection of cdís with recordings from the phonogramm archiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences. This first edition contains twenty five recordings from brass bands from Podolia, Klezmer and other Jewish music. This time no ancient recordings, they are all recorded in 1991, 2001 and 2002. The cd has a well written booklet with background information and English translations of the songs. Itís a welcome addition to all the recent releases of field recordings which are at least fifty years old and itís a nice presentation of recent ethnic brass band history.
Eelco Schilder

Yeshe "World Citizen"
Dog my cat; 12892; 2004
Born in West Germany, Yeshe considers the world to be his home. Lived in over twenty countries and since his teens he has a special banding with the African music. He performed with several percussion ensemble since he was fourteen and later played in Funk, reggae, blues and many other type of bands. Besides the African percussion he learned to play several percussion instruments from all around the world. His percussion can be heard on more than twenty cdís, this is his first full length solo cd. World citizen is rooted deep into the African music, smooth, relaxing rhythms and nice deep lead vocals from Yeshe himself. He is backed by six musicians including lap steel, banjo, Hammond and backing vocals. I think Yeshe recorded a very nice debut, balanced and very relaxing. Very promising for the future!
Eelco Schilder

Brazilliance "Everyone loves Brazil"
Label: Worldsoul; 041; 2006
Brazilliance is a band centred around USA musician, multi instrumentalist and composer Derrik Jordan. In the past thirty years he has composed many songs and tunes in Samba and bossa novas style. This release has two cdís, one with songs and one without words at all. All moody, warm music in the tradition of the earlier mentioned styles. Some songs a bit simple, like the 1977 song Believe, this song is so seventies and didnít survive time very well. Much nicer is Everyone loves Brazil, a much more timeless song. The songs without words are easy listening with an exotic touch. Well played but after a few songs the music disappears into the background. Nevertheless this Brazilliance is a nice production, made with care and containing some nice easy going music.
Eelco Schilder

Klezzmates "Klezzmates"
Tylkomuzyka; 014; 2005
In 2005 a group of five Polish musicians decide to start a project. All five have different musical backgrounds varying from Chamber orchestraís, jazz to a freaky drummer who has a weak spot for computer game soundtracks. This project should bring their personal experience together in a style they all feel attached to, this turned out to be the Klezmer music. That same year this debut cd was released with ten own interpretations of Klezmer style. All new material based on the specific rhythms, scales and harmonies of the Jewish and Balkan music. The Klezzmates turn Klezmer music into a more introvert style than we normally hear from the party-klezmer bands. The melody lines, smooth rhythms integrate without any problem with both the classical and, much more obvious, with the jazz music. It shows Klezmer in a more fragile way, no jumping up and down, no thousands of beats per minute but music that is both relaxing and technically of high quality. With this debut the Klezzmates recorded a fine piece of klezjazz and one can only hope these five musicians will play together for many more years.
Eelco Schilder

Vayo Raimondo "Tango legends"
Label: Pantaleon Records; 1001; 2006
Tango, one of the most loved and best known styles of music worldwide. You can find them in al kind of styles, from pure traditional until modern tango-dance. Itís not just music, itís a way of life. Vayo Raimondo from Uruguay has just released his third cd called Tango legends. A title with a history, shortly after the recordings the known bandoneon player Toto Damario died, so his final recordings can be heard in this album. The nineteen songs mostly origin from the mid 1930ís until the mid 1940ís and one original song written by Raimondo. This tango legend is a very personal piece of music, close to the classical tango style and sung in Spanish which is the original Tango language. The pure acoustic sound of the guitar, bandoneon and bass fit perfectly with Raimondoís poetic and melancholic way of singing. Raimondo recorded with this Tango legend a beautiful Tango cd which can be considered as his best work yet.
Eelco Schilder

Howard Leshaw "Bronx"
Label: Eife Records; 201; 2001
Although the cd is already six years old, It felt on the FolkWorld doormat for review, so here we go! Howard Leshaw has a long reputation in several bands, Broadway musical and as musician he played with several Jewish musicians. This cd, which has Yiddish on the edge as subheading, contains eleven compositions, mostly traditional, a Vivaldi and a few original tunes. The cd is instrumental except for the famous song Yiddishe mama, on tanz and Sim shalom on which a big menís choir can be heard. This last song is impressive, a beautiful style this choir has, almost hypnotising. The music has a taste of the first half of the 20th century somehow, sometimes jazzy, bit like an old black and white film. The flutes, sax and clarinet Leshaw play all sound fine, but a bit old fashioned at moments. Lots of piano, which sometimes gives a classical touch to the music. This Bronx is a nice, safe cd made to please a big audience. No risks are taken, Leshaw wants to please as many as possible, for me personally a bit to much on the safe side.
Eelco Schilder

Nybbl "The path from a point is in the shape of a heart"
Noise Factory; 917; 2005
According to the record company info Nybbl is the artist name of New York born Tim Quackenbush. After abusing his fathers guitar he composes and creates his own world of sounds. Using various instruments, computers and miles of cables. Not even close to folk or world music, this is pure electronic music with a strange and surreal atmosphere. Sometimes smooth and calm, sometimes close to dance music but always full of strange sounds and unexpected twists. Not sure of the average folk fan will like it, but if you are into strange and weird sounds this might be your thing.
Eelco Schilder

Marlui Miranda and Ravi "Neuneu humanity"
Label: Own label
The music which has been recorded on Neuneu humanity origins from the Mehinaku people who live in the central Brazilian Amazon. Itís a cooperation between Marlui Miranda who has devoted her life to the research after Brazilian Indigenous music. Since 1994 she has been taught to sing, play flute and dance in traditional styles. The other musician, Ravi, has specialised in the Kora for twenty years now and released several musical projects around this African instrument. They met for an earlier Brazilian music project by Ravi and the idea for this cd came to their minds. They have bassist Martin Brunsden backing them on most tracks. The music has a shamanistic atmosphere, calm and very friendly. Ravi plays his Kora very careful, which makes it an ideal instrument to accompany the vocals of Marlui Miranda. Sometimes he uses the harmonica or steel guitar but the instruments never get the overhand. They create the smooth rhythms, the basic line on which Miranda sings her mantra-like singing. Strange to hear that a song like No ira ni ni sounds very close to the traditional Joik music of the Sami people. Anyway, when you are interested in getting a picture of how the music sounds in the Central Brazilian Amazon, this is your cd.
Eelco Schilder

Kieran Kane, Kevin Welch & Fats Kaplin "Lost John Dean"
Cpmpass; 744292; 2006
This Nashville based trio exists out of three musicians/songwriters who have been playing together since 2003. All three have their own successful career in music and singer/guitarist Kieran Kane also can be spotted with paint in his hand. The cd booklet shows a nice reproduction of one of his paintings. This is the second cd by the trio and again one of high quality. Their music, mostly self written material, has a very pure touch of US folk music. Touches of country, Americana and bluegrass with a lot of space for the guitar works of all three. To the harvest look ahead is a good example how pure their music is. Nice vocals by Welch and three guitars, acoustic, electric and an unplugged electric guitar, which play a simple, effective basic melody and rhythm. Much more melodious and folky are songs like I canít wait with gentle harmony vocals and a nice dreamy accordion sound. Just two examples of the skills of these three great musicians. Lost John dean is a great cd with both nice singing and song writing. Besides that it is the creative and well played guitar works that completes this cd.
Eelco Schilder

Kevin Mitchell "All the way"
Label: Own label; 2006
It often starts with a guitar, a present from some distant family member or one that has been standing in the garage for ages. I donít know how Mitchell got his guitar, but he was twelve and he started to take lessons. When he moved to Northern Saskatchewan he got involved with the local folk scene and he decided to take music seriously. He has been the front man of several dance bands before he took the time and space to work on his first solo output which is called All the way. A surprisingly fresh sound rolls out of the speakers when the first song Buffalo starts. In a country/roots style Mitchell sings his self written songs in a convincing way. I like Dance till dawn a lot, nice melancholic start on the guitar and his singing is at his best in this song. Besides this kind of more intense songs, the cd also contains some more happy and up-tempo songs like Morning light which is more in dancing style because of the fiddling by Riki Gee. Personally I find that Do you know is a small weak link on the cd. Standard melody as If itís a demo that needs more time to grow. Especially the sax is disturbing, not because of itís style but it doesnít form a unity with the other instruments as if it was recorded separately from the rest of the musicians. But than this song is followed by the sad Still running which has a great cry of the Canadian prairie. Before I conclude that this debut cd is a very attractive one, I should mention the Harmony vocals by Michelle Keir, a well chosen singing partner as their voices match very nicely. All the way shows that Kevin Mitchell is a big promise for the future.
Eelco Schilder

Pine Leaf Boys "La musique"
Arhoolie; 520; 2005
The Arhoolie label has a great tradition of lp/cdís recordings of quality and importance. So itís no wonder they also issue the debut cd by this young, promising band Pine leaf boys. Five Musicians from Louisiana who have dedicated their lives to Cajun, Zydeco and Creole music. All five of the musicians have been part of the Cajun community form early childhood. They recorded fourteen songs, often traditionals. A few highlights are La belle josette which they found on an old Lomax recording, New family waltz which has a great dissonant sound, pure and brought right from the heart. This song is a great contradiction to the up tempo dances like Chez Moreau, which they play as well. Besides the earlier mentioned styles they use some blues influences in the raw song Blues de bosco. The LeJeune waltz Le Branche de murier shows some similarities with the traditional music from France but in another setting and rhythm. This are just a few examples of some strong songs on this debut. La Musique shows a young band who shows us the many faces of Cajun, Zydeco and Creole music in a open minded way.
Eelco Schilder

Pitu Pati "Mondlandler"
Label: Piriri Records; 048180; 2006
Mondlandler is the second cd by German band Pitu Pati. A band for weddings and funerals as they present themselves, with a weak spot for South-American music. On this cd you can find thirteen songs varying from an old song by the Austrian band Schmetterlinge to a Violetta Parra song. Pitu Pati plays middle of the road, easy going world music. Great for parties or small festivals. But not creative or original enough to keep my attention for more than three songs. Mondlander is more for these people who like a souvenir after one of their sunny performance I think.
Eelco Schilder

Drymbago "Dyddiauda"
Rasal; 013; 2005
Drymbago is a Wales based band existing out of six musicians. This is the bands first cd which is a kind of cd version of their dance live concerts. Drymbago is not a folk band at all but a kind funky, dance, alternative rock band with slices of jazz, afro and oriental sounds. They have a touch of the sixties, light reggae moods and a ancient organ sound. Although the cd is full of creative ideas, nice sounds and twists it just doesnít get me. I donít like the upfront sound of the drum, it takes away the attention from the rest of the band. And itís strange that even with so many influence from so many styles, it all sound the same. For me personally this Dyddiauda is much to careful and stays to close to the middle.
Eelco Schilder

Kila & Oki "Kila & Oki"
Label: Kila Records 011; 2006
This year it's exactly twenty years ago that the band Kila was formed. The musicians were about sixteen years old that time and all came from the Dublin area. Nowadays the band has a big group of fans, internationally successful cd's and energetic concerts. They lost a bit of their wildness (not to much) and their trying new musical paths. This cd is a cooperation with Oki, a musician from the Ainu tribe, probably the first inhabitants of Japan. Together they melt Irish folk with Japanese sounds. The new sound they created is a very natural one, it's like the instruments and styles have mended to be together. Ni liom fein shows a band with a great drive and the music is about to explode. This is definitely one of the best songs on the cd. hAon dů has the same, bit dark, atmosphere. Great playing on the Tonkori, an Ainu string instrument. But most songs are much less energetic, almost serene music. I like this project, Kila & Oki show respect for each others music and managed to create a nice cd with best out of two worlds.
Eelco Schilder

Kíla "Gambler's Ballet"
Kila Records; KRCD012; 2007; Playing time: 40:02 min
They are back again. Better and bigger than ever. Irish band Kíla (-> FW#4, FW#19, FW#26, FW#30) is about ... ag scagadh soiscéal - spreading good vibes. Five instrumental dance tunes have been written and recorded by the band, ambient music on traditional Irish grounds (the first track features "Pachebel's Canon" written in 1680 as a piece of chamber music for three violins and basso continuo) with bits of jazz, Balkan and Spain here and there. More precisely, it is almost exclusively reels and slow airs (though very varied), but Kíla exactly know how to please their audience. Four songs are executed by singer Rónán O'Snodaigh ( -> FW#26, FW#30, FW#33) in his own unimitable style, Irish language chant over African grooves. It is 21th century poetry about luaithreadán lán, gloiní ó aréir agus boladh biotáile, feadóga, fags, eochar an carr - a full ashtray, last night's glasses and the smell of whiskey whistles, fags, the keys of the car. With their "Gambler's Ballet", Kíla set a new standard in roots music - for themselves, Ireland and the Celtic countries, entire Europe and the rest of the world.
P.S.: I overheard that flutist Colm O'Snodaigh just released a short novel, called something like "Pat the Piper", unfortunatly it is in Irish.
Kila Records
Walkin' T:-)M

Sylvia Barnes "The Colour of Amber"
Greentrax; CDTRAX314; 2007; Playing time: 54:41 min
I haven't heard of Sylvia Barnes before. Obviously my mistake and poor knowledge, her being highly respected in Scots music circles. With her husband Jim she played in a Scottish folk band named Kentigern (after the patron saint of Glasgow), eventually joining the Battlefield Band (FW#32), at the time the line-up included Dougie Pincock (bagpipes), Alan Reid (keyboards) and Brian McNeill (fiddle). I understood that Jim played bouzouki and Sylvia sang and played the dulcimer. Jim sadly passed away in 2004. Sylvia went on. Her solo album "The Colour of Amber" had been recorded by Ian McCalman (-> FW#30), and features guitar player Sandy Stannage, Jennifer Wrigley (fiddle), Hazel Wrigley (guitar, piano) and Frank McLaughlin (small pipes, whistle). Here are the big Scottish ballads, traditional Scots songs, poems by Scottish writer Violet Jacob (1863-1946) set to music, Robert Burns' "What Can a Young Lassie Dae Wi' an Auld Man" and Les Barker's "Turn of the Road". So mostly traditional nonsense and no-nonsense Scottish songs with a bit contemporary and soon to be traditional. Sylvia Barnes is a great Scottish singer, she deserved getting the Singer of the Year at The Scots Trad Awards of 2006. Very rich and colourful: amber, gold, whatever.
Walkin' T:-)M

Geoff Berner "The Wedding Dance of the Widow Bride"
Jericho Beach; JBM 0701; 2007; Playing time: 37:54 min
Canadian singer-songwriter and accordion player Geoff Berner is the Lucky Goddamn Jew who -- according to himself -- gets bad reviews on Norwegian Nazi websites. Having no Fascists as close friends, the ingenious punk poet is unlikely to find allies among Jewish traditionalists and purists. Geoff Berner's song being too explicit in its sexual and political content, tackling issues no klesmorim ever did dare. At least not this way. Klezmer music is largely wedding music, so he decided to write a wedding album, but it's my wedding album, so it's a bit fucked up.
Geoff Berner's wedding (with violinist Diona Davies and percussionist Wayne Adams as wedding band) starts with a song to reconcile the opposing parties: This is the song to reconcile the parents of the bride with the parents of the groom. They're eying each other suspiciously, each on opposite sides of the room. Oh, can't they see, humanity is really one big family. It doesn't matter who's to blame, when after all, we're all the same, except for vastly divergent views of History, Geography, and possibly even the Purpose of human life on Earth ... Well you don't have to love each other, but the band requests that all killing be suspended for the duration of the event. Let's pray to God the human urge to have a good meal, get fucked up and fuck someone hot is stronger than the human urge for revenge. Then maybe they'll get it together. I'm just the accordion player so I don't know.
Another Jewish wedding ritual is making the bride weep, as only Geoff Berner can do: Now your girlhood is over, and your womanhood lies stretched out before you. I'm sorry but it's time for me to talk about the subject of your husband. I guess you think he's pretty cute and pretty smart, and maybe even pretty deep. 'Cause he's a closeted Marxist, who thinks that marriage is state prostitution, so sometimes you'll have to fuck him just to get him to shut up and go to sleep.
Still any intentions to marry?
Jericho Beach Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Blowzabella "Octomento"
Label: Own label; 2007; Playing time: 52:18 min
I have seen Blowzabella live in concert, I have listened to their previous albums, and I wasn't impressed too much. This has changed I have to say with their recent release "Octomento". I can't exactly tell you what changed my mind, but "Octomento", their first album of new material since 1990, has all the necessary ingredients that European bordun music should have: a stellar line-up, featuring button accordionist Andy Cutting, Jo Freya (bass clarinet, saxophones, low whistle), Paul James (border bagpipes, saxophones), Gregory Jolivet (hurdy gurdy), Dave Shepherd (violin), Barn Stradling (bass guitar), and Jon Swayne (border bagpipes, saxophones); entirely self-composed tunes from Britain and France to the Mediterranean and eastern Europe; driving rhythms aiming for the dancers.
Blowzabella had been formed in London in 1978 by Jon Swayne, went through various line-up changes and recorded several albums. The pressure of constant touring caused the band to split in 1990, however, since the mid-1990's they continued to play a few concerts every year. In 2003 Blowzabella celebrated their 25th anniversary and their reunion caused them to record a new album: "Octomento". So here we are, and as I said before I'm glad they did.
Walkin' T:-)M

Paul Brock & Enda Scahill "Humdinger"
Compass; 7 4455 2; 2007; Playing time: 48:53 min
It is said that "Humdinger" by traditional Irish musicians Paul Brock and Enda Scahill is the first ever pairing of melodeon and four-string tenor banjo. At least on record. Paul Brock hails from Athlone (County Westmeath) and is a multiple All-Ireland button accordion champion. Nowadays he is based in Ennis (Clare) and he did collaborate with fiddler Frankie Gavin ("A Tribute to Joe Cooley"), Clare band Moving Cloud and fiddler Manus McGuire, and recorded a solo album fifteen years ago. Banjo player Enda Scahill, All-Ireland champion on banjo and mandolin, is from Corofin in East Galway. He recorded a solo album as well, had been a member of the Brock McGuire Band, and performed with Sessions from the Hearth and The Frankie Gavin Band. The button-string pairing came into existence a hundread years ago in the United States, and "Humdinger" kind of re-enacts the Golden Era of Irish American music. The sources of tunes is telling: 78 rpm recordings of melodeon virtuoso John J Kimmel, the Flanagan Brothers, Sligo fiddlers Paddy Killoran (and his Pride of Erin Orchestra), James Morrison and Michael Coleman, flutist John McKenna, Dan Sullivan's Shamrock Band, the Aughrim Slopes Ceilidh Band, and so forth. "The Rocky Road from Dublin" has been one of the first melodeon banjo duets, recorded in 1917 by Eddie Herborn and James Wheeler. "Polka d'Alfred Couillard" turns out to be an unusal version of the children's skipping song "I'll Tell Me Ma", which had been popularized by The Clancys in the 1950's, the late Tommy Makem adding a third verse to it and the rest is history as they say. "Humdinger" isn't about history. Paul Brock and Enda Scahill, accompanied on piano by Ryan Molloy and percussionist Tommie Hayes, doesn't exactly sound like The Flanagan Brothers nor any other of the Irish-American vaudeville orchestras. With their feet in the past and an eye cast into the future, this is the state of the art of traditional Irish music.
Walkin' T:-)M

Máire Ní Chathasaigh & Chris Newman "FireWire"
Old Bridge Music; OBMCD17; 2007; Playing time: 50:51 min
An tseang-bhean ghlé ba bhéasach gnaoi, a scanraigh mé, Pé 'n Éirinn í. - The bright slender woman of polite countenance startled me, whoe'er she be. This Gaelic song had been composed by Liam Dall Ó hlfearnáin in 18th century Ireland, a so-called aisling poem in which usually the poet encounters a beautiful woman, usually an allegory personification for Ireland. However, the bright slender woman of polite countenance which I would like to introduce is Máire Ní Chathasaigh (-> FW#1, FW#20). Actually I guess there is no need for introduction, she is probably the best known Irish harpist, at least over here in Germany. Hailing from a West Cork musical family and steeped in Irish music tradition, Máire developed her own technique to play dance music on the harp besides the odd Turlough O'Carolan tunes and airs. She recorded the first harp album ever which concentrated on traditional Irish dance music ("The New-Strung Harp", 1985). About twenty years ago, Máire teamed up with English guitar player Chris Newman whose musical background is in of traditional music, jazz, bluegrass and baroque. Their sixth album altogether, "FireWire", featuring contributions by fiddler Nollaig Casey and banjo player Cathy Fink, is both delicate and subtle as well as powerful and fiery. It starts with a contemporary composition by Scottish harper Wendy Stewart, featuring a Scott Skinner hornpipe, some traditional Irish dance tunes and airs (none of it comes from Carolan), some compositions by Chris and an old time tune. Máire sings a couple of songs, the other Gaelic one is "Bruach na Carraige Báne".
Old Bridge Music
Walkin' T:-)M

Colman Connolly, Tobi Kurig, Franziska Urton "Blue"
Label: Fox Music; FMCD631991; 2007; Playing time: 47:18 min
Colman Conolly is a young and acomplished Irish uilleann piper, flute and whistle player. Colman toured with German based group Deirin De (-> FW#24), so he got to know Tobias Kurig who plays an Irish bouzouki with five pairs of strings. Fiddler Franziska Urton is from the same area in Northrhine Westfalia in Germany. She performed with German-Irish supergroup Friel's Kitchen (-> FW#23), and lately with the trio Dan (-> FW#33). Add some guest contributions by fiddler Catriona Price (Orkney's Hadhirgaan), double bass player Johannes Mayr (-> FW#30) and Cara's bodhran player Rolf Wagels bodhran (-> FW#34), an interesting tune selection of traditional and contemporary Irish music (by themselves as well as Diarmuid Moynihan, Cara's Sandra Gunkel and Aidan O'Rourke, see the LAU review below), a tight performance - and you get another fantastic recording of traditional Irish music. It is announced that Colman Connolly, Tobi Kurig and Franziska Urton will tour Germany in April 2008 and I'm looking forward with delight.
Walkin' T:-)M

Cruinniú "Live in Corofin"
Label: Rath Records; RRCD003; 2006; Playing time: 46:10 min
The small country town of Corofin in the west of Ireland is featured in this FW issue a couple of times (Enda Scahill, Padraic O'Reilly). Seemingly, a hot bed of traditional Irish music. Indeed, Cruinniú's recorded their debut album at the Corofin Traditional Festival in March 2006. However, Cruinniú's means gathering and that's what it is: seven young artists from all over the island, from Counties Meath and Clare, Antrim and Sligo. The band members Siobhan O'Donnell (bodhran, vocals), Damien O'Reilly (accordion), Aine Bird (fiddle), Anne-Maire Grogan (flute), Caitlin Nic Gabhann (concertina), Jack Talty (piano) and Ryan Graham (guitar) got together in 2005 to travel to the Festival Interceltique de Lorient in Britanny. Afterwards they decided to stay together. The tune spectrum on this very evening in 2006 included some polkas and a Carolan favourite ("Si Beag Si Mor") and rather well-known sets and tunes. For example, the four songs are "Do You Love an Apple", "Na Cheannabháin Bhána", "Roger the Miller", and "Bantry Girl's Lament". But that is what tradition is all about: passing on great songs and tunes. Every musician gets a space to breathe, and everyone is already a master of his instrument. The live in concert feeling is evident throughout the album. It is not too polished, expressing the energy and joy of an entertaining evening. A great gathering indeed and a brilliant start.
Walkin' T:-)M

Tommie Cunniffe "Unbuttoned"
Label: Own label; TC2007; 2007; Playing time: 49:49 min
Edel Sullivan "In the Time of"
Label: Own label; ES001; 2006; Playing time: 48:44 min
Since Irish group Calico took a break (-> FW#5, FW#17), its guitar player Donncha Moynihan took to a seat behind the engineering table, producing and recording young upcoming artistes at his studio in Bishopstown (Cork), at times adding his guitar playing. Here we have two fine examples.
"The Sleeping Barman" is a tune named after a barman in a Galway pub where Tommie Cunniffe played many a session. Believe me, said barman must have been deaf and dumb. Tommie Cunniffe is from County Roscommon and plays the button accordion (of course). Growing up between the towns of Ballinasloe and Athlone on the Roscommon/Galway border, Tommie early became interested in the music of East Galway and this still shines through. He had been a founding member of a group named Taltarella which released an EP in 1998 consisting entirely of Tommie's compositions. He moved to Cork City in 2000, where he met the American guitarist Brian Miller and Irish percussionist Brian Morrisey, both featured on Tommie's debut solo album "Unbuttoned". Of 31 Irish tunes, 19 are his own. Tommieís originals display a particular style of box playing which is ... unbuttoned.
"In the Time Of ...", the tune and title track of Edel Sullivan's debut solo album had been inspired by Emir Kusturica's film "Time of the Gypsies". The tune might have some Eastern Europea influences, the time signature is of a 2/4 Sliabh Luachra polka. Even more, it displays her classical violin training. Edel Sullivan took up Irish traditional fiddling only as an adult, but soon after toured with Michael Flatley's "Lord of the Dance" in the US. Edel Sullivan's performance can be vigorous, but often has a Baroque feeling which reminds me of the West Ocean String Quartet. Edel also plays piano and viola and is supported by Brid Dunne (piano), Ilse deZiah (cello), flutist Aideen Curtin (Galldubh), box player Christy Leahy (North Cregg) etc. More than two dozen tunes which Sullivan wrote are featured, jigs & reels, airs & waltzes. Several tunes came about as a result of, a venture for people to commission her to compose a piece of music for a particular occasion. Nice idea, indeed.
Walkin' T:-)M

Heather Dale "The Road to Santiago"
Amphisbaena; AM0119; 2005; Playing time: 46:08 min
Singer Heather Dale is from Toronto, Canada, and she has been compared to Loreena McKennitt and Sarah McLachlan. This might be because of her Celtic Roots music that has much commercial potential. However, I find Heather Dale's music much more muscular and robust than the aforementioned. Heather's fifth solo album "The Road to Santiago", produced by Paul Mills, is a collection of folk songs for the 21st century. Indeed, on paper they read like traditional ballads but listen to it carefully and you hear contemporary folk pop blending Celtic influences with blues, jazz and world music. Heather is inspired by ancient stories, legends and folktales from the Celtic fringe. Songs about Oisin and Guinevere, fox hunting and other pastimes. She finds her themes in the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Fittingly, there is flamenco percussion, didgeridoo and Inuit throat singing. Songs that leave you humming long after hearing them.
Walkin' T:-)M

Dalla "Rooz"
Label: Dalla Records; DACD 04; 2007; Playing time: 48:41 min
Cornwall in south-west England is considered one of the six Celtic nations. The Cornish language is closely related to Welsh and Breton and there are still some 300 people who speak Cornish fluently. Cornwall is said to have a folk tradition of morris dancing, mumming and guising, though it is not too well known outside of Britain. As with other mining districts, male voice choirs and brass bands are very popular. Traditional Cornish music is very similar to Breton music, Cornish events called troyls analogous to the Breton fest-noz. Some community events survived, such as the Furry Dance in Helston and Obby Oss in Padstow. It has been estimated that there are over hundred bands playing traditional Cornish music, Dalla being one of the bands that have spearheaded the noze looan movement of Cornish dance and music nights. Dalla's third album "Rooz" starts with the traditional Cornish emigration lament "Dean Younk a Gernow" and ends with the jig "Hernen Widn" and the hedley "Hernen Rooz", the latter being a derivative of the reel. Polkas, riddle songs, question-and-answer-songs, "Seventeen Come Sunday" is widely known since the Bothy Band. Neil Davey (bouzouki, mandolin, fiddle, crowdy crawn, i.e. a Cornish version of the bodhran) is playing Cornish music since the 1970's. He is best known as the bouzouki player of Celtic band Anam (-> FW#7, FW#9, FW#14). Hilary Coleman (clarinet, standing in for the Breton biniou) grew up amidst Cornwallís pub singing tradition. In 2004 she became a bard of the Gorseth Kernow organization, which aims to maintain the national Celtic spirit of Cornwall. Furthermore, there is Bec Applebee (vocals, percussion) being the counterpart to the Cornish question-and-answer-songs. Thanks for the experience. Dalla's music is both familiar and alien to me. It opened up a new world, which I can only recommend.
Walkin' T:-)M

Diskreetse Mango Trio "Prigadi-Pragadi"
hyper.records; 1062.2; 2006; Playing time: 47:21 min
Estonian regilaul or runo songs are old recitative melodies, which may come as work songs, ballads or epic legends. In the 1860's Friedrich Reinhold Kreutzwald used them to compose the Estonian national epic "Kalevipoeg", though by the 20th century runo songs had almost passed into oblivion and survived only in certain places. The Diskreetse Mango Trio from Tallinn revived an entire genre. However, this young urban musicians did it their own way. Apart from a bit of fiddle and accordion this is seventies rock music, which reminds me a lot of the Celtic folk rock outfits of today. Yet, often having an medieval feeling, the songs are typical runo songs: up tempo question-and-answer-songs and some ballads. "Prigadi-Pragadi" is Estonian folk music on steroids. The Diskreetse Mango Trio is not a trio, but three squared which makes nine band members. So is the music: three squared, nine points out of ten.
Walkin' T:-)M

Fribo "The Ha' o Habrahellia"
Fellside; FECD205; 200; Playing time: 59:02 min
The boy and the man went into the woods to get firewood, and when they came to a clearing they saw a boy playing the fiddle and a girl dancing - oh, the joy of life! Words from a traditional slåttestev, the Norwegian equivalent to Scottish mouth music. This is a very special recording and a very special band: Fribo! The band met in Edinburgh, Scotland, consisting of Norwegian singer Anne Sofie Linge Valdal, fiddler Sarah-Jane Summers (Unusual Suspects, Malinky), and guitar player Ewan MacPherson (Malinky, Croft No. 5). They combine Scandinavian and Scottish traditions, the Fribo ethos is: Norwegian tunes but played in a very Scottish style. New music from the old North: port-a-beuls and slåttestevs, pipe tunes and hardanger fiddle music, reels and hallings, two Norwegian psalms, a song by Finland's national poet Johan Ludvig Runeberg with a melody by Ewan (the Swedish language original was set by Jean Sibelius). Celtic and Scandinavian music doesn't clash against each other as the Viking warriors once did with the people of Britian. "The Ha' o Habrahellia" makes a rather fascinating musical journey. Music is a common language - different cultures, one sound.
Walkin' T:-)M

Frank Harte "There's Gangs of Them Digging"
Daisy; DLCD022; 2007; Playing time: 77:47 min
If you just have to know one Irish folk singer and song collector, it is the late great Frank Harte (-> FW#7, FW#30). Frank passed away in 2005 (-> FW#31), having just completed the recording of "There's Gangs of Them Digging". His collection of Irish labour songs, the title is a quote from the song "Mountains of Mourne" by Percy French who not only had been a vaudeville artist but also an inspector of drains, spans three centuries -- before the arrival of the Celtic Tiger in Ireland. From the spailpíní, the migratory harvestmen, who were looking just for seasonal work all over Ireland or Scotland to the navvies who spent the rest of their lives in Britain and America to build roads and railways, the underground and hydro dams (having fiddles and flutes in their cases to spread the gospel of traditional Irish music too). Frank Harte, having been architect as an occupation so he knows the trade, is at his best digging up familiar tunes such as "Galbally Farmer", "Blantyre Explosion", "Hot Asphalt", Dominic Behan's "McAlpine's Fusiliers" and Ewan MacColl's "Tunnel Tigers", and moreover the unfamiliar songs from the Irish song tradition such as "Tambo" (The Magherafelt Hiring Fair), "When the Breakers Go Back On Full Time" or Kieran Halpin's "Aran Labourer" written in the late 1970's when Kieran (-> FW#31) was working on a building site in London. "There's Gangs of Them Digging" is a labour of love, the songs unaccompanied or sparsely accompanied by Donal Lunny, With its extensive liner notes it is the consummate legacy, as perfect as anything he did in his lifetime. Thank you, Frank! Rest in peace!
Walkin' T:-)M

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