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GAY MCKEON - The Turning Of The Geese  

GAY MCKEON - The Turning Of The Geese  
Private Label CDGMCK003  

Gay McKeon is a well-known Dublin piper and mainstay of the session scene as well as leading the Pipers' Club. A master of dance music and slow airs alike, he's been featured on numerous television programmes. This is his second solo album, I believe: he also recorded an outstanding trio CD with his two sons, Seán and Conor, but The Turning Of The Geese is a solo affair apart from a dash of fiddle from Jacqui Martin on one track. Gay's previous recordings featured a set of Coyne pipes pitched in C, but this recording is partly inspired by the careful restoration of a beautifully resonant concert pitch set made by Leo Rowsome around 1939. You couldn't find a much more Dublin sound than a McKeon playing The Flax In Bloom on Rowsome pipes.

There are several slower pieces here; indeed Gay starts with a luscious version of Her Mantle So Green which may be familiar from the song The Green Fields Of Canada. A stream of jigs, reels and set dances follow, more or less well known, before the air Lament For Eoghan Ruadh O'Neill. Like all the airs here, and many of the quicker tunes, it features deft polyphonic backing on the regulators. The chanter bobs up and down on a sea of drones and chords, so you can fully appreciate the accompaniment. McKeon's style has elements of the tight Dublin fingering of Rowsome and Ennis, and relaxes into a more fluid approach at times: his switch back to the Coyne C set for An Chead Mhairt Den Fomhair shows the difference. It is followed by a pair of hornpipes which blend the open and closed styles brilliantly. Two more ancient airs and the Chieftains’ favourite, March Of The King Of Laois, jostle with jigs and reels in the second half of The Turning Of The Geese, mostly familiar melodies but a rare pleasure to hear them played so well, on pipes sounding perfectly.

Alex Monaghan


This review appeared in Issue 131 of The Living Tradition magazine