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Compass Records 7 4455 2

There is a particular affinity between the melodeon and the tenor banjo, particularly when playing Irish music, and especially when the instruments are under the command of master exponents.  Combine all of these factors, as is done here, and the results are something pretty special.  Paul Brock, the box player, and Enda Scahill, banjoist and mandolinist, are both All-Ireland champions, from Westmeath and Corofin respectively, and have a natural understanding of each other’s styles from their playing with the Brock Maguire Band.  Accompanied here by Ryan Molloy on a piano which is rhythmic yet unintrusive, and the splendid percussion of Tommy Hayes, Paul and Enda have put together a collection of tune sets in the style of the Irish American dance hall era of the early decades of last century – often referred to as a “golden age” of such music.

This is not an attempt to reproduce the music of that era slavishly, but rather to evoke the atmosphere of those times through an excitingly fresh look at the tunes, playing with a precision that astounds, and a passion that stimulates.  There is a crispness and attack about the playing that certainly captures the spirit of the early 1900’s, whilst exemplifying the best of modern musicality.

This is a wholly enjoyable CD, well-packaged with informative notes about the tunes, some of which are more familiar under other titles on this side of the Atlantic – a fine example of the folk process in operation.  If you have any interest in the development of Irish music in the States, this should be an essential part of your collection - a real humdinger, indeed.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 75 of The Living Tradition magazine.