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v - Leaf 

Private Label 

Caesar Pacifici and Brian Brooks played together in the 70s in folk/rock band, Banish Misfortune, and then in a traditional acoustic band, The Flying Cloud. The latter also featured fiddle player Tony DeMarco and singer Dan Milner, and recorded for Adelphi records. After disbanding, Brooks ended up in England and joined The House Band on their second album, Pacific, bringing bouzouki and keyboards to that album’s sonic canvas. Brooks and Pacifici hooked up again in the UK some 30 years later, this time as a duo, the intervening years increasing their musical outlook and combined dexterity. Their first recent collaboration was In Good Company, a 2018 release of traditional Irish, blues and original music that features playing by fiddlers Kevin Burke, Tony DeMarco and Tony Fitzgibbon, flautist Grey Larsen, and electric guitarist Angelo Pacifici. Now, Leaf is their second duo album, recorded in Ireland, America and England.

One can hear individual strains and ideas mapped out on previous occasions, and the ghosts of The Flying Cloud and The House Band float by occasionally, but slowly a composite identity emerges. The combined effort is one of reinterpreting traditional forms and ideals for a contemporary world, and finding close harmony within the creative spheres. Ballads like Spencer The Rover and Jack Orion feature guest spots by Grey Larsen, Tony Fitzgibbon and Jack Laskey, and The May Morning Dew features Clare Brooks on vocals – with the main artists and their guests contributing admirably. The instrumental sets, Leaving Brittany, The Butterfly, Sliabh Russell and A Fig For A Kiss delicately meander and swoop rhythmically when needed. Touches of blues, jazz, rock and semi-classical strains infiltrate the traditional sounding canvas, but it’s one that is finely hewed and diametrically tight. John Martyn’s May You Never ends the album on a note of consolation and hope – and one certainly hopes that this combination will reveal further works like Leaf.

John O’Regan


This review appeared in Issue 133 of The Living Tradition magazine