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PAUL KELLY "A Mandolin Album" Malgamu Music MALGCD110
SEAN WHELAN "End of Autumn" Malgamu Music MALGCD111

Malgamu Music is a new Dublin-based label run by mandolin wizard Paul Kelly. They have three albums available to date, and these are the first two. Paul plays mandolin, fiddle and bouzouki in a range of styles: there's traditional Irish, Swedish, Klezmer and Venezuelan music here, and even a touch of Debussy, as well as half a dozen of Paul's own compositions in the Irish style. Highlights include a set of three jaunty reels finishing with "McGlinchey's", three Kelly jigs with a real swing to them, and another of those wonderful Quebecois sets from La Bottine Souriante. Half a dozen backing musicians add depth when required, and perhaps a little too much percussion at times. This is a fine CD, and a good opportunity to hear the mandolin in traditional mode.

Sean Whelan's album is even more eclectic, including Irish, Breton, Moldavian, Parisian and Spanish influences. Sean's face and guitars are well known in several Dublin bars, some of which are represented on this recording. He opens with two traditional Irish tracks, very well played and arranged, followed by two atmospheric modern Irish compositions. Then come a bouncy Breton dance tune in 6/4 on guitar and accordeon, a Whelan slow air on solo guitar, and Dave Brubeck's "Rondo a la Turk" in a Riverdancey style. The Latingrass title track prefaces two leisurely Carolan pieces, and the final third of the CD consists of five tracks with Latin, jazz and/or gypsy flavours. Lots of interesting stuff here, for repeated listening.

Both these CDs run for about 55 minutes, so you get quantity and quality. Both have quite stylish arrangements and a similar line-up of top-flight backing musicians. Let's hope there's more music of this calibre to come from Malgamu.

Alex Monaghan

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This album was reviewed in Issue 31 of The Living Tradition magazine.