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Aidan Coffey with Frankie Gavin, Alec Finn & Colm Murphy
Aidan Coffey is a virtuoso button accordion player from Co Waterford who, over the years, has recorded with many of the greats of Irish traditional music, most notably with De Dannan in the late eighties and through the nineties.

On this recording, Aidan has managed to bring together the talents of Frankie Gavin on fiddle and Alec Finn on bouzouki for the first time in many years and a mighty combination it makes too. For those of you who know anything about Frankie and Alex's troubled history, you'll know that this was no mean achievement – enough said! Bodhrán player extraordinaire Colm Murphy is another De Dannan stalwart from that same period, so the sound on this CD is classic De Dannan (without the singer) and diehard fans will find a lot to love here.

High octane tunes are nicely complemented by beautiful lyrical airs. The togetherness of powerhouse box and fiddle is remarkable – grace note for grace note, triplet for triplet – perfect synchronisation. All this is underpinned by Alex's steady, subtle bouzouki and the pulse of Colum's driving bodhrán. You can tell that these guys played together for years.

There are some lovely lesser heard versions of very well known tunes – The West Wind being an older version of Colonel Fraser and Seamus Ennis' version of The Gold Ring to name but a few.

What maybe distinguishes this from an out and out De Dannan record is Aidan's inclusion of some nice slower sets, so it's not all hell for leather reels, jigs, polkas and slides. An Páistín Fionn (The Fair Haired Child) is beautifully played in a stripped back arrangement featuring accordion simply augmented by very subtle, minimalist bouzouki – lovely stuff. Again, the March Of The King Of Laois / Macallistrom's March are given a suitable regal pace and respectful treatment. A stand-out for me is the hop jig set Another Jig Will Do / Top It Off, which are somewhat quirky tunes given an injection of Coffey/Gavin swing.

The life and swing in this music is palpable. A superb recording of top notch musicians playing top notch stuff.

Jim Byrne

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