Claire Mann and Aaron Jones

Trad Music TMRCD05

For several years Claire Mann and Aaron Jones have been plying their musical trade so it may seem surprising that this is their first recording together as a duo. Claire’s an All-Ireland flute champion and here demonstrates her beautifully controlled intonation along with some fine fiddle playing as well. The opening track utilises one of Newcastle based musician Tom McElvogue’s unusually embellished tunes that sounds to me as if it was written particularly with Irish step dancers in mind. This is topped off by an Ed Reavy melody (who was not unlike McElvogue himself when it came to compositions) ‘The Highest Hill in Sligo ’. The accompaniment provided by Jones on bouzouki, guitar and bass is solid without being obtrusive and he’s no mean chanter either. The third track David Francey’s ‘Saints and Sinners’ is a fine choice of song and the laid back feel is gently steered by a nice bluesy harmonica courtesy of Little Al Price. Swelled by the communal chorus it has a currency that I could see well used as an anthem to close many a Sunday festival finale. It’s also nice to see another interpretation of Steve Tilston’s outstanding ‘Slip Jigs and Reels’. Again, the use of harmonica backed by Nathan Jones resonator guitar gives a particularly Country feel to proceedings. For aspiring musicians there are plenty of tunes many of which I haven’t heard before (even the ‘Munster Buttermilk’ isn’t the one I’m used to hearing) and as they are performed at what I term reasonable speeds could find themselves cropping up in sessions throughout the land. On a final note, Mann’s interpretation of the Cathal McConnell air ‘Lament for the Kerry Fisherman’ proves once again that speed isn’t everything. Listen and enjoy.

Pete Fyfe

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This album was reviewed in Issue 63 of The Living Tradition magazine.