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At the Racket
AT THE RACKET - "At the Racket" - Racket Records RR001

It does you good to have some of your misconceptions challenged from time to time, especially if you learn from the experience. I didn't think that the saxophone was particularly suited to Irish traditional music, but now I've heard this CD, I'm enlightened.

At the Racket combine the mighty talents of John Carty on banjo, fiddle and flute, Brian McGrath on piano, banjo and mandolin, Gerry O'Briain on guitar, mandocello, viola, keyboard and vocals, and Seamus O'Donnell on saxophone, flute, bodhran and vocals. They are influenced greatly by the Flanagan Brothers, who get sneaked in at the end on an unlisted version of "The Darling Girl from Clare".

This doesn't mean that they sound like the aforesaid brothers - far from it, with twin banjos driving things along at a fair old lick, dispelling forever the notion that banjo players can be insensitive to what they play. And then there is that saxophone. Not for Seamus O'Donnell any attempt at a jazz-influenced crossover, but a vibrant and truly feeling interpretation of the tunes, swirling around the melody lines with an effect that brings to mind the dance-halls of former times whilst at the same time making you feel that this is one of the future directions in which the tradition can safely travel.

Dynamic, innovative and eminently listenable, this production has already got me looking out for any opportunity to hear these guys live. Highly recommended.

Gordon Potter

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This album was reviewed in Issue 26 of The Living Tradition magazine.