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The Living Tradition

Various Artists - Within a Mile of Kitty

Kilty is short for Kiltyclogher, a village in North Leitrim that is something of a breeding ground for traditional fiddle players, many of whom are captured on this recording. Selected from a collection made by David Lennon over a forty-year period, this CD showcases the fiddling of the late John Gordon, Ben, Charlie, and Maurice Lennon, Brian Rooney, and Seamus Quinn. Charlie Lennon and Seamus Quinn also contribute some sprightly piano accompaniments on several tracks, and for a little variety Noel O’Grady (bouzouki), Ciar‡n Curran (cittern), Gabriel McArdle (concertina) and Frank Kilkelly (guitar) make appearances. This is an intimate, homely recording; you feel as if you’re sitting in on a particularly fine session. The tunes are mostly jigs and reels with the odd hornpipe and barn dance set, all played at judicious speeds without any pyrotechnics or over the top arrangements. An unexpected delight is Maurice Lennon’s viola playing. His rendition of ‘Lark in the Morning’ is a revelation. Viola, because of its awkward size and muted tone, is often relegated to playing slow tunes. But here he just treats it like another fiddle and plays it with all the drive and lilt characteristic of the style. The combination of lively, well played tunes, some familiar, some less so; the relaxed, spontaneous ambience, and the stylistic continuity over several decades of North Leitrim fiddle playing paint a vivid portrait of this vibrant tradition. This album is a real treat for anyone who enjoys music in its natural habitat.

E. Bradtke