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THE DUGGANS "Trad" Clo Iar-Chonnachta CICD 090

Another family group, another handful of young Irish musicians, and another showcase album. Except that this one has a few differences. For a start this is strictly instrumental. Secondly, there's an excellent cross-section of musical forms here: although the reel is well represented, it is joined by laments, airs, set dances, marches and slip jigs. Thirdly, every set has been arranged to show off the various instruments and the whole album has been carefully constructed so that the sets follow each other without jarring and without monotony.

The standard of playing on the album is very high, especially considering that these musicians are only just out of school. The arrangements are not quite so competent - it takes experience as well as skill to arrange music, and sometimes this is lacking here. There is also the risk with arranged music that the spark of spontaneity will be lost, and this happens in a couple of places on the album. The rendition of "O'Carolan's Draught", for instance, is rather dead, as is "Cronin's Reel".

There are some great tunes well played here. I especially liked the three sets of jigs and the set of reels by Ed Reavy. The six Duggans display extraordinary skill on flutes, whistles, fiddles, pipes, banjo, mandolin, accordions and other things, and are ably backed by guests on strings and percussion. This is a surprisingly mature offering, which makes very good listening.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 12 of The Living Tradition magazine.