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Gael Linn CEFCD106

This is the first CD release of Brendan Keenan's LP from 1984. He comes from a family which is renowned in the world of traditional music and he is the inheritor of a style of playing which has come down through seven generations of pipers. From a young age, Brendan became proficient at playing the pipes, flute and whistles. His travels around Europe opened up new realms of musical experience to him and proved to be of great influence to his creative sensitivity.

This last fact is definitely audible on this album. The listener is taken from dizzying heights to sweet lows in a string of musically exciting pieces. I feel the emphasis of Brendan's art is more on the whistles than on the pipes. The pipes have that recognisable flowing Keenan style and the playing is very fine, but the whistle playing is just mind blowing in speed, feeling and downright raw natural musicality.

I especially love My Lagan Love, which is a wild tune in itself, but Brendan’s tin whistle explores the very limits of that tune and makes it shine. As a singer I am, of course, drawn to songs first and so it is lovely to hear Brendan play his version of Cad É Sin Don Té Sin as well, which I know from the singing of Tríona and Maire Ni Dhomnnaill. I adore the blue note dotted Tipsy Sailor and Brendan's Test, Fancy and Jig respectively. These are great learning materials and a fireside treat to listen to.

The tunes played on whistle are full of joy and unexpected freshness - this is an album that’s 31 years old mind! One of the reasons it is so timeless must also have something to do with the fact that Donal Lunny had a hand in it as well. He has always managed to produce music and musicians in a way that is out of the ordinary. Powerful, simple, supporting guitar by Marie Noëlle Bureau, Thomas Keenan joining on flute and, of course, Lunny's driving bouzouki and the extremely creative and varying arrangements, make this album as alive today as it was 31 years ago.

These people have, among others, started what many are still doing today - keeping the musical tradition of Ireland alive by communicating with other styles, countries and traditions.

Annemarie de Bie

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This album was reviewed in Issue 111 of The Living Tradition magazine.