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Douglas Lawrence - "As You'd Expect" - CHAMP CD01
Jenny Newman
- "Tom's Fiddle" - GHCD001
Mick Conneely
- "Selkie" - CICD 148
Various Artists -
"The Fiddle Music of Donegal Vol.3" CNF003

Douglas Lawrence started playing the fiddle at the age of nine. At school he received tuition from Steven Merson who introduced him to the legendary Hector MacAndrew whose distinguished pupil he became. He has won all the major fiddle competitions both as a player and composer. After studying at the RSAMD he joined the SNO with whom he played for many years. He has broadcast widely, played with Yehudi Menuhin and represented Scotland in the 1978 Commonwealth Arts Festival. Although still performing, teaching and adjudicating it is surprising that As You'd Expect ... is the first CD from the man who is considered by many to be the finest exponent of the North East style of fiddle playing today. An opinion that I can find no fault with. This is an exemplary release.

Jenny Newman has been referred to as an inspired, uncluttered player with a style of depth and maturity. I can't improve on this most appropriate description. Her repertoire is mostly self-penned, many of her tunes now appear at sessions around the country, a richly deserved compliment. Jenny's interests and musical influences are many and varied. Long association with some of the finest Irish musicians including James Byrne and the legendary Bobby Casey, touring with Rock, Salt and Nails and the rock band Solstice, and performances with artists as diverse as Yehudi Menuhin and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. Tom's Fiddle features several excellent musicians playing guitars, bodhran, pipes and cello. An exciting album with Jenny's fiddle outstanding. Definitely one to watch.

Another young fiddle player with an impressive CV is Mick Conneely. Mick was eleven when he began lessons with Brendan Mulkere who arranged for him to meet and play with major figures of Irish music. Later he was a founding member of the band Long Acre, with whom he recorded. Since then he has toured Scandinavia, Europe and the U.S. with - among others - Mary Bergin, DeDanann, Micho Russell and Tony MacMahon. It is obvious that a lot of care and attention has gone into this recording. The result is an album of robust, atmospheric and exciting fiddle music of outstanding quality. Selkie also features Mick's father on fiddle and Naill O Callanain on bouzouki, whose contributions add nicely to the 'feel' of the album.

Cairdeas na bhFidileiri was formed in the early 1980s with the aim of fostering the fiddle music of Donegal. Towards this goal they have issued a series of CDs featuring players from that county. The CD under review is vol. three in this series. These are live recordings made before a small audience in 1997 and 1999. There is a nice intimate and relaxed feel about the whole thing even though the playing is of the highest standard throughout. This volume includes some unusual examples of tunes played on the tin fiddle. The excellent notes give a brief but interesting history of the metal fiddle in Donegal. This is a delightful CD, as is the whole series, and essential listening for anyone interested in regional variations within the Irish fiddle tradition.

I highly recommend all of these CDs to any enthusiast of fiddle music from whatever tradition. One warning though, with rumours of more gems to come your interest could become expensive.

Danny Saunders

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This album was reviewed in Issue 46 of The Living Tradition magazine.