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Garry Shannon  - “Loozin' Air” - Brick Missing Music BMM004

Following in his famous sisters' footsteps, this brother of Sharon and Mary has finally released his long-awaited solo recording. Garry Shannon plays the wooden flute, and treats us to forty-three minutes of traditional tunes. For a change, there are no "self-penned" items here and relatively few modern compositions: it's mostly trad arr, with a fairly even split between well-known and less common material.

The main attractions of this CD are the lovely mellow tone of Garry's flute, and the frequent fresh twists which he gives to traditional tunes. Loozin' Air always finds something in a tune which hasn't been brought out before. The L'Air du Blond set is a good illustration: a pair of modern reels starting with a novel interpretation of Herve Cantal's oft-recorded tune, and finishing with a smashing Sharon & Mary composition which they discarded but Garry picked up. The "mellowosity" of Garry's music is perhaps most evident in the set of mazurkas attributed to one of the O'Leary brothers, where the tone is reminiscent of the baroque flutes played by Chris Norman. The twists and turns in the De Bonne Heure set are also worth a mention, as is the humour of the final track. My personal favourite is the pair of Micho Russell jigs, taken at a gorgeous steady pace: Garry's informative and entertaining notes include the most candid assessment of Micho Russell's music that I've ever seen, and I think he has it just about right.

Most of the tunes here are from Clare or thereabouts, played in a loosely Clare style, and are thus firmly in the mainstream of Irish music. The accompaniment is fairly straight, too, with guitar and keyboards supplemented by three of the finest bodhran players around. Make no mistake, though: this is an exceptional album, comparable in its deceptive simplicity and lasting quality to the debut solo recordings by Sean Smyth or Cormac Breatnach or even Mike McGoldrick. This man promises great things, and has already begun to deliver them.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 45 of The Living Tradition magazine.