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Private Label LTCD9011

To all intents and purposes, this is a solo album of Irish flute music from Tom McElvogue, accompanied on most tracks by Paddy Kerr on bouzoukis and the like. As well as blowing into the blackwood, Tom has written numerous tunes: there are several on this recording, and some have been recorded widely by McGoldrick, Crawford and others. He is highly regarded among fluters, both as a composer and as a player, but despite the long-established popularity of his tunes this is Tom McElvogue's first commercial recording. Worth the wait, I'd say.

Kicking off with a rousing rendition of Master McDermott's, Tom treats us to a wide range of forms and tempos. Reels, jigs and hornpipes are supplemented by several down-tempo tracks. The Old Walls Of Liscarrol is slowed down nicely on a low Bb flute, and the slow air An Cailín Rua is followed by a very relaxed amble through The Peeler's Jacket. The fire and energy in many tracks is magnificent: Tom pours passion into The Gallowglass Jig, The Chattering Magpie, The Golden Eagle and his own jigs, six here in total. The feel of this recording is a little uneven in places - the flame flickers on The Boys Of Ballisodare and Charlie Mulvihill's, the Baltic Rocks set never really catches fire. But these are only minor criticisms. The music on The Long Hard Road flows and dances so beguilingly that such things are soon forgotten.

For virtuoso fluting, try The Mathematician's Hornpipe. If it's Irish heart and soul you're after, Tom's performance of Colonel Frazer takes some beating. There's a couple of lovely slip-jigs too, a rare thing still on traditional recordings. Paddy Kerr's accompaniment is sensitive and varied, adding some tasty modern touches at times, complementing a fine solo debut album. Try www.tommcelvogue for more information: very little comes with the CD!

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 89 of The Living Tradition magazine.