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Album Review

Given the popularity of Celtic music throughout the country, it was only a matter of time before an album dressing the Irish music in jazz garments would come along. Luckily for all, this task was an undertaking by sound musicians from both the jazz and Celtic sides. Guitarist David O'Rourke straddles the Irish and jazz fence. Paddy Keenan's bagpipes fit right in as he cleverly merges rhythms special to that instrument with those on the jazz side. On the medley "The Salamanca/The Banshee" his foil is Fintan O'Neill, and on "The Maid Behind the Bar/The Woman of the House" the drums of Lewis Nash. The lilting of the Irish reel is successfully stirred in with the lilting of Caribbean jazz on still another medley, "The Old Bush/Kiss the Maid Behind the Barrel/Master Crowley." Some of the performances of Irish jigs and reels are done as straight jazz with a tad of intervention by the Irish instruments, such as on "Drowsie Mariah," where O'Rourke is allowed to display his guitar qualities, and they are significant indeed. But there's a legitimate mixture of the two forms on "The Belfast Hornpipe," as Keenan's pipes underscore the piano and the swinging O'Rourke guitar with island percussion from Steve Kroon. All of the participants in this marriage of musical forms make important contributions to the success of this album. But it's the bagpipes of Keenan and the drums of Nash that keep things together for their respective sides of the musical equation and for the group as a whole. This album was a challenge for the players to make the merger of two different styles come across naturally and unforced. It also has excellent sound, as is the norm for any album engineered by that audio whiz, Pierre Sprey. Recommended.

Aislinn (Live), David O'Rourke
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