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LOz Productions LOZ81

Originally comprising Breton Yann Honoré (fretted/fretless basses, cellobass, low whistle), Irishman Ian Smith (acoustic and electric guitars), Frenchman Emmanuel Pariselle (accordion, concertina) and Belfast born, now Breton resident, David Hopkins (bodhrán, percussion), Irish vocalist and fiddler Niamh Varian-Barry subsequently became the fifth Buzz Buddy, so completing the quintet recorded here.

This album, recorded in Ian and Yann’s own studios in Ireland (Monea) and Brittany (Quimper), follows the group’s music library release Celtic In Mind and offers original pieces, mainly by Yann and Ian. Yann’s song She Sails Away is particularly arresting in its catch and Ian provides some jigs and reels and a charming atmospheric instrumental, Kemper Garden, suitably, evocatively Breton in feel and subtly shifting movement over imaginative percussive elements. There are also pleasing arrangements of traditional pieces - (Flower of) Magherally, One I Love, Rushes Green and Next Market Day.

With influential master musicians of this experience, the quality of playing is assured and the stellar rhythm section of renowned world percussionist ‘Hopi’ Hopkins and immensely versatile bassist and arranger Honoré provide amply subtle sensitivity, sophistication and syncopation in the service of the rhythmic pulse and punch of the tunes and songs with some delightful detail and touch. Gracing some South African soundscapes on Rushes Green, they very occasionally graze with and on the more easily popular (most notably on the paean to the Packamac curiously forming their title subject!), but overall this is confidently contemporary Pan Celtic music, richly fused in ambience and styling, with some finely wrought instrumental passages.

Kevin T. Ward

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This album was reviewed in Issue 109 of The Living Tradition magazine.