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TÉADA - Ceol & Cuimhne (Music & Memory)

TÉADA - Ceol & Cuimhne (Music & Memory)
Gael Linn CEFCD195

Gael Linn have been bringing us great recordings for what seems like all time. Their output seemed to drop off in recent years but this album is up to their usual high standard.  Of all the instruments used in traditional Irish music, none can beat the fiddle and the flute in combination and that’s proved again by Oisín Mac Diarmada and Damien Stenson abetted by Paul Finn on button box, Sean McElwain on guitar and bouzouki and Tristan Rosenstock on bodhrán. There’s also some neat piano from Mac Diarmada, uillean piping from Tommy Martin, harping by Gráinne Hambly and sean nós dancing by Brian Cunningham.

There’s a real selection of fine dance tunes here from different sources including that rich seam, the Grier Collection.  As usual, reels are in the majority for the simple reason that they fill an urge by most musicians to play them. I guess it’s that indefinable ‘lonesome’ feel that good reels have. Téada have a real swinging style on every track as if they’re enjoying themselves.

Paddy ÓBrien and Ed Reavy both get the nod in recognition of the fine tunes they composed; Reavy being notably prolific in his musical output. The New York-based Sligo fiddler, ‘Professor’ James Morrison, has a set of barndance and polka associated with him in The Granuaile and The Circus.

I’d have thought it would be sacrilege to mess with the song air Eanch Dhuin but Téada’s jig version which they got from Junior Crehan proves me wrong yet again. It’s good enough to stand alone without comparison with its parent air. It fits neatly between the good old jigs, The Bog of Allen and Bill the Weaver’s, as if it was the most natural place for it.

It’s not all race-away stuff though; there’s fine harping from Gráinne Hambly on A Sligo Air, collected in 1837 by George Petrie ‘from the singing of a woman named Biddy Monahan’. This certainly deserves to be better known and played. It’s followed by a new jig, Sally Gally, composed by Damien Connally of Co. Clare, which seems so natural that you’d think they’d always been played together. So that’s from the 19th to the 21st century; and to think traditional music was almost dying sixty years ago.

Track 10, Clothiers, from the Roche collection, has a strong resemblance to that well known air, Lament for Limerick. Indeed, in Roche’s, it has the alternative title of Limerick’s Lamentation.  From the version played here, this could well be the original air for Téada give it an old-fashioned treatment.

Téada have certainly done their homework when it comes to the inset notes. They’re short but informative; just the thing for compulsive but short-sighted readers like me.  Ceol & Cuimhne is just the thing to play ‘when your horse is an also ran’ and you can’t get out for ‘A Pint of Plain’. (Apologies to Flann Ó Brien for that but I couldn’t resist it.) It really is happy foot-tapping music for lifting the spirits and hooching along to.

Mick Furey

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This album was reviewed in Issue 86 of The Living Tradition magazine.