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JASON O’ROURKE - The Northern Concertina

JASON O’ROURKE - The Northern Concertina
Private Label JORCD001

The second solo album from English born but Belfast based Jason O’Rourke, The Northern Concertina spans a gap of 16 years from his debut album (1999’s The Bunch Of Keys). That in itself was a very fine debut, alerting attention to a player whose imaginative approach to his repertoire and its presentation yielded some high quality results. Now, after a duet album (Roguery Road) with ex-Oige fiddler Ruadhrai O’Kane, a PhD in English and other life events, The Northern Concertina arrives like a phoenix confirming his giftedness and musical ability.

This recording finds a player at home with his repertoire and his technical approach to its application. The title does not refer to a defined Ulster style, but the hallmarks associated with his music – clear notes, steady pace and quick-fire exchanges with any accompanying musicians. The result is music that is clearly defined and individual, easily at home in a session as much as a listening experience in its own right. The album features both solo performances and ensemble pieces, usually with one or more accompanying instrument. There’s an experimental set with a tenor sax joining the concertina for some interesting results on L’Aguillette, a set of Mazurkas from Italy, with Sionaid Murray’s sax and Teresa Clarke’s piano adding some Mediterranean shades. Stevie Dunne’s deft guitar adds some spice to the opening jig set, Munster Bacon, while the solo concertina reel set, The Gooseberry Bush, creates a lovely intimacy within its tenure and The Mongrel, a trio jig set with Stevie Dunne on guitar and fiddler Teresa Clarke again, swings gracefully while emphasising the tunes’ delicate nuances.

Jason O’Rourke’s music has matured down the years into a fully cohesive and finely-tuned style; each note executed with pin-pricked precision. He stands on his own merits among concertina players in Ireland and elsewhere, and his music finds full maturity on this outstanding set.

John O’Regan

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