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JOE BURKE 'The Morning Mist' New Century Music NCMCD100

Amazing stuff from the master of the Irish accordion, this is the real thing! When John Doonan played me an LP with Joe Burke's 'Frieze Britches' going back in the 60s, I knew the man was something special. Seamus Ennis once said he'd go a long way to hear an old melodeon and this CD of the modern version would be well worth stepping out from Malin to Mizen!

The 'traditional' Irish B/C chromatic accordion style was pioneered by Paddy O'Brien of Tipperary only in the 1950s and Joe Burke was in at the start. The first tune on this CD, 'The Dawn Reel', he originally recorded for Gael-Linn in 1959 on a 78 - how's that for pedigree?

Accompanied on piano and keyboard by Charlie Lennon, this is a mighty musician on top form. Unusually for the instrument, there are four slow airs, played "within my limitations and lamentations" to quote Joe and also plenty of reels, including Coleman classics like 'Bonnie Kate' and 'Jenny's Chickens', all at a lovely flowing pace with just the right amount of ornamentation, the great traditional musician knows when NOT to play a note, but for evidence that Joe can play it all, jut listen to his stunning 'Shaskeen' hornpipe. " I think I knew it before I learned it," he says!

Excellent background to the music is given in his own notes, and like a good man, he gives sources, as well as memories of old friends like Joe Cooley and the McPeake Family. That Scott Skinner's 'Laird of Drumblair' is described as a 'Stratsby' is surely evidence of the oral tradition in action, but if you've room in your collection for only one Irish accordion CD, this is the one - a classic of its kind.

Jim Bainbridge

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This album was reviewed in Issue 52 of The Living Tradition magazine.