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MICHAEL WRIGHT - Sleeping Pedlar

MICHAEL WRIGHT - Sleeping Pedlar
Private Label INCH-1

The result of a chance conversation with Dogan Mehmet, here is a CD from Michael Wright, one of the finest exponents of the jews-harp. It attempts to show the versatility of the instrument as a lead melody player, an accompanier, a rhythm maker and atmosphere inducer, without merely making a straight-forward jews-harp album. The result is this mix of songs and tunes - Irish, American and English in origin - all featuring Michael’s incredible playing.

Michael sings on around half the tracks here - some traditional and a couple of his own. The stand-out track is The Jolly Pedlar, where you can hear the influence of Dogan in the arrangement (he recorded and co-produced the CD and plays various instruments throughout along with two or three others). Use is made of some older recordings – of Michael in 2005, and of a recording of his father on the piano made shortly before he died, which has since been augmented by Michael and other members of the family,. These make nice additions and vary the mood in places. Michael also provides three “interludes” of solo jews-harp, showing just what a master of the instrument he is. There’s even a collection of Michael’s father’s one-liner style phrases set to jews-harp accompaniment, followed by a song by Michael made up of some of his own Random Thoughts – slightly odd, but perhaps befitting the vary varied nature of this CD.

An imaginative album that explores the musicality of the much maligned jews-harp, that displays how, in the right hands, it can be as versatile as any other instrument.

Fiona Heywood

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This album was reviewed in Issue 120 of The Living Tradition magazine.