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MARTIN TOURISH - Under A Red Sky Night

MARTIN TOURISH - Under A Red Sky Night
Private Label MT001

I first met Martin when, as a teenager, he used to turn up in Peter Oliver’s bar in Ardara – a noted music venue back then – with his accordion, and it was noticeable that, besides being an exceptionally gifted player, he listened avidly to everything that was played. All these years later, he’s playing with Altan, with Lorcan Mac Mathuna and others, and is obviously still listening to everything he can, as evidenced by this recording which is full of ideas and innovations rooted firmly in his now extensive experience in traditional music.

Nearly all the tracks are recently composed, mainly by Martin, but with others from as far away as Asturias and a couple coming from the James Tourish collection (a late 19th century compilation from Donegal). The variety of the compositions is staggering, ranging from beautiful slow pieces like Liobhan Song through slowed-down polkas to jigs and reels. His playing has a light and precise touch, he doesn’t overuse decoration and he seems invariably to give every note its full value – as I suppose you would with music that you’ve composed yourself. He’s aided by musicians such as Tim Edey and Luke Ward, who help to underline the quality of the musicianship.

Of course, this is an instrumental recording, but there are voices to be heard on a couple of tracks, being employed as an additional instrument, and I mustn’t forget the words of that iconic fiddle player John Doherty, a man for whom Martin has a great respect, which are used as a framework around the second track, Imagined Communities, which expresses the importance and fragility of traditional music in a society. This voice from beyond the grave, coupled with a beautifully crafted piece of music, has a distinct power.

This is well worth a listen from a musician at the top of his game; his music is easy to listen to, while at the same time having the power to make you think.

John Waltham

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This album was reviewed in Issue 113 of The Living Tradition magazine.