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Album Review

Karen Ashbrook and Paul Oorts each bring a unique musical sensibility to Celtic Café. Ashbrook is an experienced dulcimer and flute player who is highly regarded in Celtic circles, while guitarist and mandolin player Oorts brings his knowledge of Flemish traditions to the duo. Together, they create an engaging mixture of trans-European instrumentals. They are joined by a number of talented musicians who add fiddle, viola, percussion, French horn, and piano to the musical mix. The album begins with two Irish reels, "Breton Dance/Star of Munster," highlighted by Hammond dulcimer and lovely guitar. "Style Musette" is a bright mixture of mandolin and pipes, creating a lively dancing tune. Many of these songs, as the title of the album suggests, would be perfect for listening to while sipping coffee in just about any café. The "Napoleon Suite" is their most ambitious piece, comprising the last third of the album. This epic includes lively jigs, marching fife and drums, and sorrowful odes set to the tune of uilleann pipes. This piece travels from Ireland to England to France, becoming a melting pot of European music. While the instruments of Celtic Cafe are acoustic, Ashbrook and Oorts' approach is contemporary, removing the rougher edges from traditional music. The piano, woodwinds, and soprano saxophone smooth out the textures, leaving the listener with pleasant melodies. The liner notes are informative, explaining the influences of each piece. Celtic Cafe adds a European twist to music from the British Isles, and should be a delight to contemporary Celtic lovers looking for something a little different. ~ Ronnie Lankford, Jr., Rovi

Celtic Cafe, Karen Ashbrook & Paul Oorts
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