Sony Classical, 1999
This review is written by Kevin McCarthy, 3/99
"Kevin and Maxine’s Celtic & Folk Music CD Reviews"
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All aboard the Eileen Ivers fiddle train bound for Spain, Africa, the Caribbean and the usual Celtic countries. Ivers' latest release forms a bridge and then indeed crosses it as she traipses from continent to continent, weaving a varied web of ethnic sounds and musical styles into her fiddle mastery.
Opening with the raucous "Gravelwork," a melange of fiddle, electrical guitar, bass and drum, Ivers clues the listener in right away she is going far afield from the usual Celtic fiddle recording. Parts of this cut sound like they're straight out of a rock guitar piece.
Percussion, fiddle, and flute establish the rhythm on "Jama," with African vocals meshing into the instrumentals in the latter half of the song.
"Bygone Days" is a traditional but lovingly rendered tune featuring a tender piano introduction and aching whistle and fiddle play that define melancholy.
In a nod towards celtic Galicia, the intriguingly titled "Whiskey and Sangria" is a page out of the Gipsy Kings, with jazz/flamenco rhythm and dance mixed with fiddle and guitar. This is an intoxicating, joyous cut.
"Crossing The Bridge" begins and ends with a homage to rap music and maintains a rap-type rhythm, with jazz inflections, regardless of the instrument playing--fiddle, guitar, trumphet, you name it. This is a swinging-and-swaying, danceable number.
"Bunch Of Keys" is a lively traditional tune of fiddle and guitar a la Martin Hayes and Dennis Cahill. "March Up Fifth" begins with drumming that vividly depicts military or parade marching and then evolves into separate organ, fiddle and electrical guitar play.
With a Caribbean-type musical rhythm, "Islanders," features light percussion, similar to a steel drum sound, throughout and takes turns with fiddle, trumphet and horn section solos that indeed transport the listener off to the islands.
This release is a veritable visit to the United Nations, a marriage of fiddle with both world music and more current musical styles and sounds. No passport is required however, just the price of purchase.
Ivers is assisted by wooden flutist Seamus Egan, guitarist John Doyle, bassist Bakithi Kumalo, drummer Steve Gadd, Al Di Meola on guitar, Randy Brecker on trumphet, Joanie Madden, and a host of others.
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