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KEVIN ROWSOME "The Rowsome Tradition" Kelero Records KELERO 001

Kevin Rowsome is the grandson of Leo, known as "The King of the Pipers". A celebrated Irish piper, maker and teacher, Leo Rowsome taught many of today's great players; his pupils included Liam O'Flynn, Paddy Moloney, Joe McKenna, and the late Willie Clancy. Kevin learnt his piping from his grandfather and father, and has acquired the Rowsome style and repertoire. As well as a dozen tracks of his own high-quality piping, Kevin's debut album includes six archive tracks featuring Leo Rowsome and his two sons. All this is squeezed into 53 minutes, with very informative notes and some old family photographs. There's a broad range of traditional tunes here, from seventeenth-century compositions to tunes written in living memory, all great melodies which fit comfortably on the pipes. Kevin plays three sets of uilleann pipes, in C, C# and D, each producing a different tone. The pipes are temperamental at best, and he occasionally struggles to keep them in order, but his playing is generally a pleasing combination of the fluid and staccato styles. Accompaniment is appropriately sparse; the tunes speak for themselves, and the mixture of reels, jigs, hornpipes and airs gives plenty of variety. Well-known pieces such as 'The Broken Pledge' and 'The Wexford Hornpipe' are treated very nicely here. There are no startling new tunes, but we must remember that much of the classic piping repertoire came from the playing of Leo Rowsome so Kevin is performing his family's music. The link with previous generations of pipers is amply illustrated by the inclusion of six tracks from the fifties and sixties. These feature Leo, Leon and Liam Rowsome on amateur recordings. The two fiddle solos from Liam which end this album are quite remarkable for the time, but the quality of the other four archive tracks is only enough to whet the appetite. Fortunately, there are clearer recordings of Leo Rowsome available. Overall, this is a very interesting and informative CD which gives a good feel for the Rowsome piping legacy.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 40 of The Living Tradition magazine.