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KEVIN BURKE "In Concert" - Green Linnet GLCD1196

In case you're in any doubt about what you're going to hear, the comforting words "solo fiddle" appear on the cover. If ever two words simultaneously sum up just what you're going to get, and signally fail to describe the quality of what follows, then it's here.

Kevin Burke is a giant amongst Irish fiddle players, and his CV of bands he's played with almost defies belief. He combines skilled techniques of the highest order with an artistry of style that takes the basic airs and then judges the shades of ornamentation necessary to make his versions as instantly recognisable as his speaking voice. Just listen to the way in which he builds up the pace in the opening number The Butterfly to get an idea of what I mean.

Unsurprisingly, Kevin breaks the rules from time to time, with the "solo fiddle" being joined by Martin Hayes and Aidan Brennan, which brings even more depth and variety, but in no way diminishing those tracks when your man has the stage to himself. Most of the tracks will be familiar from some of the sets that are immediately associated with some of Kevin's bands, such as the Bothies and Open House, but these live recordings, made in Portland, Oregon, revisit these sets and make the listener discover them anew.

File under essential listening - so there!

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 36 of The Living Tradition magazine.