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GREY LARSEN & PADDY LEAGUE The Green House Sleepy Creek Music SCM102

Grey and Paddy are American musicians from the Midwest and Washington DC areas respectively, whose various musical influences started at the age of three years old and apparently range from classical, funk rock, rhythm and blues and Greek dance. I say "apparently" because these various strands don't really make themselves obvious here at all - what we have is Irish music either learned directly from source or from first-generation Irish-American players, with a couple of Grey's own traditionally-based number for good measure. Not that this means the sound is not distinctive - indeed their music strikes the ear immediately as crafted by two masters.

Grey plays flute, tin whistle, anglo concertina, harmonium, field organ and piano, while Paddy plays bodhran and guitar. Between them, they play immaculately, with the flute and whistles normally taking the lead, rolling and rippling through the sets with sensitivity and fire, driven and supported by dynamic percussive rhythms which should immediately make all those who tell bodhran-player jokes hang their heads in shame!

Jigs, reels, hornpipes, slow airs, you name them, you've got them here, all brilliantly interpreted and splendidly executed. Many of the tunes are given an extra freshness by simply shifting the keys from those in which they are normally played, and the only thing you want to do after listening is to play the whole lot over again.

As a bonus at the end, there are three tracks by the late Michael J Kennedy, a melodeon player who was a great influence on Grey's early playing, two in which he talks about his own music and memories and one where he plays his unique version of "The Cuckoo's Nest".

This is, quite simply, a gem of a CD.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 43 of The Living Tradition magazine.