Issue 28 04/2004
FolkWorld CD Reviews
Dobrek bistro "live"
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.
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.
Tan "Yar diye diye / Longing for you"
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.
Veronica Mortensen "Pieces in a puzzle"
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.
Daud Khan "Tribute to Afghanistan"
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.
Vladimir Denisenkov "Guzulka"
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.
Wiener tschuschenkapelle "Exil"
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.
Zydeco playboys "Superficial Satisfaction"
Label: Private; 030201; 2003; Playing time:
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!
Ray Abshire and friends "For old times sake"
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!
Jim McKillop "The Floating Bowhand" [Video
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
"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.
Ceoltone "Ride a Mile"
Label: Own Label; 2003; Playing time: 24:21
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!
Cass Meurig "Crwth"
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
Tim Dennehy "Between the Mountains and the
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.
Dr Faustus "The First Cut"
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,
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.
Filska "A Thousand Miles Away"
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
Foot Stompin' Records
The Beaton Family of Mabou "Cape Breton Fiddle
& Piano Music"
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#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:
Mark Evans "A Rival Heart"
Label: Own label; 2003; Playing time: 54.25
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.
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.
More English CD Reviews: Page 4 - Page
5 - Page 1 - Page 2
More German CD Reviews: Page 1 - Page
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