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J.P. CORMIER "Heart & Soul" Borealis Recording Company BCD114

Doctors should stock up on this album as a cheap alternative to Prozac. Cape Breton music is seldom glum, and John Paul Cormier has served up a happy hour of fiddle music to get us on our feet and dancing.

But it's not just fiddle, and not just footstomping Cape Breton hoolie. JP is a musician of broad horizons whose sweet touch and effortless assurance extends to guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin and piano. He has returned to his island roots after mainland years of country and bluegrass music. After songwriting success with his last album "Another Morning", he now delivers an instrumental statement about who he is, what he likes, and what he can do.

So he gives us classics like "The Hangman's Reel" and "The Mason's Apron". Takes on technically difficult pieces like "Tulloch Gorum". Raids the repertoires of fiddle heroes Scotty Fitzgerald, Martin Hayes and his uncle, the great Joe Cormier. Throws in Bach's "Prelude in A Minor" and Bill Monroe's "Rawhide", and ends with a magical "Monymusk" on banjo. Like the Stubberts, Hollands, MacIsaacs and MacMasters of the island, he revels in a tradition which is vigorous beyond our imagination, and he adds to it with fine fresh tunes named after friends and fellow musicians. All this with wifely support from Hilda Chiasson-Cormier, one of the island's best piano accompanists.

If JP has a fault (other than giving sets of tunes silly titles like "Aren't We Feeling Jiggy Today") it is that he is just too mellifluous. Fire and honey don't mix. Then again, people have said similar things about Mozart and Macartney, and what do reviewers know anyway? By any reasonable standards, this album is a ripper.

Tony Hendry

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This album was reviewed in Issue 34 of The Living Tradition magazine.