As We Got Them:
Traditional Flute and Fiddle Music from County Sligo
Own label GDCD 05; 55 minutes; 2005
Bearing one of the strangest covers to grace a CD (presumably the dog is being congratulated on its receipt of some award), this album features a number of musicians from the South Sligo area, stretching over the borders into Mayo and Roscommon. They include flute-players James Murray (who also provides fiddle on some tracks), James McDonagh, Harry McGowan, Mick Loftus and Gregory Daly (in the beret, who’s actually from Northern Ireland I think, but long been based in Sligo), the distinctive sound of fiddler Jimmy Murphy, and accompanists Ollie Ross and Paul Gurney (both on piano) and Francis Gaffney (guitar).
The entire album consists of duo or trio pieces (not counting the accompanists when they appear) with the exception of some flute solos and is a thoroughly mellifluous affair, an outstanding example of which is the Harry McGowan/Mick Loftus pairing on The Cat that Ate the Candle and The Carrowroe jigs.
The tunes themselves, as the title aptly implies, are those learnt by the musicians from local sources, family, friends or a session. However, that does not mean that many will be unfamiliar to those not au fait with the region’s music, proving ‘that a good tune has no boundaries’, as Matt Molloy writes in his introduction to the liner. Matt also notes that ‘there are no studio tracks included here’, though the liner does not shed any light on the location(s) of the recordings. However, overall the music embodies senses of both relaxation and spirit, suggesting that the players were recorded in a place where they felt at home.
It must be said that not everything on As We Got Them works. The fiddle duet between Jimmy Murphy and James Murray (taking up the bow for this track) provides a rather discordant edge to the polkas Memories of Ballymote and Gurteen Boys (two tunes which certainly have not crossed many boundaries). Also the introduction to The Blackthorn Stick has a very clipped feel, as if the opening notes have somehow been cut from the mix and the same phenomenon is even more prominent on Jim Donoghue’s. To be charitable, perhaps some pre-tune noodling was in process and this was the only option for the producer.
Whatever the case, there’s plenty here to enchant and enthuse listeners, though acquiring a copy of the album might be difficult unless you happen to be in the Gurteen area.
16th October, 2005
This CD can be purchased at The Coleman Heritage Centre, Gurteen, Co. Sligo – www.colemanirishmusic.com.