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DAVID MUNNELLY 'By Heck' Frea Records MWCD 4046

Anyone who has heard recordings of the likes of the Flanagan Brothers will be aware that fusion music has been with us for a long time, as they were among the pioneers of integrating Irish traditional music with the swing and ragtime genres of the 1920s. David Munnelly has been greatly swayed by these influences, and produces a vibrant, catchy multi-layered sound which grabs your ears right from the first notes.

David plays accordion, melodeon and piano, and is joined here by a plethora of musicians and singers whose enjoyment is self-evident - it must have been fun in the recording studio when these tracks were being laid down. However it's not all 1920s swing. There are more modern sets of both traditional and more recent composition, and a Quebecois set which perfectly captures the nuances of that distinctive genre. The inclusion of guest singers, namely Andrew Murray and Helen Flaherty add an extra variety, as does the ever-changing line-up of musicians.

The overall effect is a CD that's fresh and lively throughout, bringing an innovative approach that works really well. The only down side is that the printing on the liner notes is a wee bit difficult to read, but compared to the quality of the music, that's a minor point indeed.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 56 of The Living Tradition magazine.