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Brian Brooks and Caesar Pacifici have a shared musical past as half of the New York based late 70s traditional/folk band, The Flying Cloud, with fiddler Tony Demarco and singer Dan Milner. After that, Caesar Pacifici established himself as an accompanist on a fiddle duet album with fellow New Yorkers Brian Conway and Tony Demarco, while back in England, Brian Brooks joined The House Band.

A Flying Cloud revival of interest looks likely now that two of the band members have formed this duo. Both Caesar Pacifici and Brian Brooks are capable multi-instrumentalists and this collection finds them in cahoots with Kevin Burke, Tony Demarco, Tony Fitzgibbon, Grey Larsen and Angelo Pacifici in a mostly instrumental collection based on Irish, American and British folk music.

The intervening years have seen the protagonists develop musically and technically, and while The Flying Cloud was an acoustic band, this album is a more cosmopolitan affair. Expect heavy doses of jazz, blues and rock styles mingled with the traditional roots. The results are full of surprises and move from brisk guitar duets to settings that echo full band workouts. The Morning Dew begins with an extensive Delta Blues flavoured guitar intro, before Kevin Burke’s magic fiddle weaves in the tune and it ends with a fiddle/bones workout. Cool Reggae has sun splashed Jamaican rhythms and laconic vocals that echo 10CC, before heading into the ethnic strains of The Old Copperplate. Grey Larsen adds some flute to Tony’s jigs, while This Side Of The Sun is a plaintive contemporary folk ballad with Brian Brooks’s ethereal voice melding with a slowed down version of Davy Arthur’s Tamlin reel. The Girl Who Broke My Heart gets an ambient bluesy guitar treatment before the slowed down tune emerges, and Paddy Fahy’s Reel gets a 12 bar blues band intro before a Gypsy swing jazz arrangement with a fluid electric guitar break. This typifies a wide palate where eclecticism reigns, and expect the unexpected is the order of the day. Both Caesar Pacifici and Brian Brooks are talented musicians and their imaginative approach works wonders.

John O’Regan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 125 of The Living Tradition magazine.