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JESSE SMITH "Jigs and Reels" JSmith 33001

Jesse Smith comes from a musical Irish/American family and his latest release is a collection of traditional Irish tunes. Smith plays a mean fiddle, backed by John Blake on guitar and piano. Harry Bradley (flute) and Seosamh O Neachtain (dancing feet) also make an appearance. It's not just jigs and reels here, in fact one of outstanding tracks is a set of polkas Happy Birdie paired with the ever popular Bluebell. Sprightly, lilting and lyrical all at the same time, no mean trick that. Smith also includes The Little Heathy Hill, a song air with a swinging rhythm. On this track Blake's guitar accompaniment is lovely, he gives the tune an almost bell like quality. One of the terrific things about this CD is that although Smith is technically brilliant, he doesn't feel the need to play everything at warp factor ten. Imagine double jigs where each and every note is clearly heard, instead of nearly indistinguishable morse code-like blips and burbles flashing by. The arrangement of hornpipes The Champion and The High Level is particularly nice, with a gorgeous solo fiddle in the middle, and key changes to tickle your ears. Not a bad track on the whole album, it should please anyone who likes classic tunes, great fiddling and tasteful arrangements that focus on the melody.

Elaine Bradtke

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This album was reviewed in Issue 55 of The Living Tradition magazine.