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Album Review

Here the Chieftains have embarked upon an exploration of the "lost Celtic province" of Galicia (the northwest corner of Spain) and areas extending to Portugal, the Basque provinces, and Cuba. They have used the finest musicians from these areas to propel their music with a conviction that staggers the imagination. Santiago catapults the listener into a musical excursion that seamlessly flows through the styles and musics of these different lands, so that a beginning and an end can no more be distinguished than the waters of the Mississippi River can be separated from those rivers that flow into it on its journey from its heart to its mouth. Attempting to find album highlights is virtually impossible due to the incredible musicianship displayed by the guests, too numerous to mention, who populate this work. Nevertheless, the opening five-part suite "Pilgrimage to Santiago" is worthy of singling out, with its use of ancient traditional instruments such as the tralaparta (large wooden planks that are laid on baskets and maize leaves and played with sticks) and the participation, in a different section of the suite, of the Ulteria Choir. Another notable track is "Dueling Chanters" with "seventh Chieftain" Carlos Nunez, a Galician gaita player, who had toured with the group for about two years at the time of this recording. As Paddy Moloney on uilleann pipes and Nunez on gaita trade dazzling licks, it is an absolute delight to hear these two, on their cousins to the bagpipes, playing off each other so beautifully.


Formed: 1963 in Dublin, Ireland

Genre: World

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

The original traditional Irish folk band, as far as anyone who came of age in the 1970s or '80s is concerned, is the Chieftains. Their sound, built largely on Paddy Moloney's pipes, is otherworldly, almost entirely instrumental, and seems as though it comes out of another age of man's history. That they became an international phenomenon in the '70s and '80s is testament to their virtuoso musicianship. The Chieftains were first formed in Dublin during 1963, as a semi-professional outfit, from the...
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