Forthcoming Albums with Traditional Music Connections

American uilleann piper, Joey Abarta

Forthcoming Albums with Traditional Music Connections

While it has been a loss to music writing, the fact that Toner Quinn has not been writing regularly about music in order to concentrate more on playing it has been paying off musically. Not only has he been performing with long-term collaborator Malachy Bourke at various events (including Masters of Tradition and Baltimore Fiddle Fair) around the country, a live album has been recorded (at their Steeple Sessions gig in Dublin two summers ago) and will be released on the Ergodos label at next month’s Scoil Samhraidh Willie Clancy.

Only eighteen months or so since the last one, Peadar Ó Riada is planning the launch of the third Triúr album this autumn. Called Omós/Respect, it will have fourteen tracks of newly composed material, and, as Ó Riada puts it ‘pays homage to different traditions’. (In the meantime, he has formed a new trio called ‘The Drole’, with John Kelly, Éamon McGivney. They have recorded a new album, called A Few Tunes for Our Friends and will be launching it on the Monday of Willie week.)

This is How We Fly are launching their eponymous first album in late September and supporting it with a tour. It will feature lots of previously unheard material from them, and of course it’ll be interesting to hear how the feet beats of percussive dancer Nic Gareiss are handled.

Also finalising their first album, and (as with the previous two groups) featuring Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh, are The Gloaming. Much anticipated by those who have had the chance to hear them live, this could well be the closest a traditional music album will get to a ‘hit’ in quite some time.

Also pushing out the boundaries is the new Ensemble Ériu led by Jack Talty and double bassist Neil O’Loghlen. Wrapping the repetition of minimalism and the improvisation of jazz around Irish traditional melodies, Ensemble Ériu is an ad hoc chamber-like group of young musicians from a range of different musical backgrounds, namely: Matthew Berrill, Matthew Jacobson, Úna McGinty, Jeremy Spencer, Paddy Groenland, Sam Perkin, Colm O’ Hara, and Saileog Ní Cheannabháin.

Kíla are just in the middle of recording their tenth studio album, the first to feature Seanán Brennan (replacing Lance Hogan on guitar) and Dave Hingerty on drums. Ex-Kíla member, Colm Mac Con Iomaire is hoping to have the follow up to his 2008 album, Cúinne an Ghiorra / The Hare’s Corner, out before the end of the year. Less trad than the debut, but still instrumental, it will feature some of Levon Helm’s brass players among other guests. It’s to be called And Now the Weather, as in the old RTÉ link phrase ‘Agus anois an aimsir’.

Slide’s crowd-funded new album, Mendacity, will be out in August. It’s the first studio one with Dave Curley on vocals, and ‘the general feel’, according to Éamonn De Barra is of ‘one foot each in the avant-garde and traditional’. Téada, meanwhile, will be launching their new album on 15 September at the National Concert Hall during the Gael Linn sixtieth anniversary concert they are doing with T with the Maggies. This album will feature their newest member, Séamus Begley, so it’ll be their first one in a while to feature songs.

Before the end of the year, Steve Cooney is due to release the first album from the ensemble he presented at Vicar Street back in September last year, Éiníní, which features Rod McVey (keyboards), Joe Csibi (bass), Odhrán Ó Casaide (fiddle) and two percussionists, Robbie Harris and Robbie Perry, and which centres on Cooney ‘going electric’ on traditional songs and tunes.

Karan Casey will be releasing her new CD, in the autumn, featuring all new songs written by Casey. It will include a duet with Mick Flannery and contributions from Crooked Still singer Aoife O’Donovan and American banjo player and singer Abigail Washburn. (Buille are planning an album of recordings with some of the guests from their Junctions series. Bravely called Kind of Buille, it won’t see light before 2014.)

Edel Fox and Neill Byrne have a duo album called The Sunny Banks coming out shortly, also to be launched during Willie week. The sixteen tracks include many previously unheard or unusual tunes from composers Jo Liddy, Finbarr Dwyer, John Dwyer, Lorna Davey, Charlie Lennon, Tommy Peoples and Fox herself, as well as other traditional tunes which are not often heard. It even features Fox making her fiddle playing recording debut. Caoimhín Ó Fearghail and Richie Lyons accompany on guitar/bouzouki and bodhrán respectively.

Alison Sleator is putting the finishing touches to her debut album, produced on a shoe-string budget thanks to the support of her musician friends and of Graham Watson who recorded it. Mostly her own songs, it includes her bossa nova version of ‘The Wind that Shakes the Barley’ and one Scots Gaelic song. The album features a wide range of guest musicians who helped out including Frederic Pouille (guitar) from France, Myo Yanachi (fiddle) from Japan (with whom Sleator studied on the MA in traditional music at University of Limerick), Anders Trajberg (accordion) from Denmark, Kathleen McPhail (piano) from Glasgow, and Eamonn Sweeney (guitar) from Dublin. The album, Sleator says, is ‘an expression of what I’ve learnt musically since I started, about 6 years ago, on this blistering and bold musical path. The songs reflect my interests in all kinds of music, contemporary popular, jazz, blues, traditional’; and hence the title: All the Ways I Walk.

Having recently finished her PhD in music, Aoife Granville, too, is nearly there with her debut album – mostly flute but with a couple of songs on it. Recorded with Tony Flaherty in Killarney, she is joined by Colm Murphy, Tony Byrne and a few others. The songs are ‘Gleann beag lách an cheoil’, ‘Maidin luan cincíse’ and ‘Isle of St Helena’. The tunes include compositions by Conal Ó Gráda, Caitlín Nic Gabhann, Billy McComiskey and Joanie Madden.

Californian piper (which is not something you write every day), Joey Abarta, was taught by Dubliner and founding member of the Southern Californian Uilleann Pipers Club, Pat D’Arcy. He just completed a successful Kickstarter campaign for his first album, a solo uilleann pipes project called Swimming Against the Falls. He writes: ‘As a piper, my musical inspiration comes from an older generation of pipers whose style both incorporated the whole of the instrument and was built on a legacy of heavy solo performance. A lot of these gentlemen were active in the nineteenth and at the turn of the twentieth century and their rich recorded legacy has deeply influenced me. What I plan to do is record twelve tracks of traditional dance tunes and song airs that both preserves this older approach to playing pipes and reflects my own stylistic approach to it, developed over my years of playing, teaching and touring.’ 

Published on 24 June 2013

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