Category: Archive

Music Review: A classic from Moving Cloud

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

FOXGLOVE, by Moving Cloud, GLCD 1186, Green Linnet Records, 1-800-468-6644.

In 1994, the Irish Echo picked Moving Cloud’s self-titled recording the best Irish traditional album of the year. Not resting on their laurels, the Clare-based quintet have fashioned a fabulous follow-up that’s even better than the previous release.

The marvelous music of Kilconnell, East Galway, fiddler-composer Paddy Fahy surfaces on three of the 16 tracks here. On “Paddy Fahy’s Reel/The Ewe Reel” medley, fellow East Galway fiddler M’ve Donnelly plays the opening tune with impressive precision and snap, and her bandmates join in seamlessly for the second tune. On “Paddy Fahy’s/Whistle and I’ll Come to You/Woods of Old Limerick,” Tipperary-born Gerry O’Connor lends his nonpareil talent on four-string banjo for three rousing jigs performed at a pace and with a passion unsurpassed by any other group now active. And the way Moving Cloud slip from “Fahy’s Jig” into “The Taproom/The Maid Who Left the County” reels is breathtaking, with Carl Hession slyly and oh-so-subtly laying in some of the tastiest keyboard licks to be heard anywhere in Irish music today.

It’s hard to say which is greater on “Foxglove,” the virtuosity of the playing or the varying textures of the melodies, all chosen with meticulous care. The Continental joie de vivre Paul Brock brings to his two-row button accordion playing on the musette-style “Swing Waltz” is absolutely intoxicating, transporting the listener to a charming Parisian cafe bustling with boulevard life, while Brock’s melodeon performance on “Byrne’s Hornpipe/The Yellow Cow/Flowers of the Red Mill” expertly captures the spirit of a halcyon, bygone era of Irish music in America.

Kevin Crawford’s superb flute playing on “Mooney’s Mazurka” respectfully evokes the memory of Altan flutist Frankie Kennedy, who recorded the tune 15 years ago with his wife, MairTad Nf Mhaonaigh, and succumbed to cancer four years ago at age 38. Crawford also stands out on two polkas, “Knocknagoshel/Ryan’s,” playing the first on flute and the second on both flute and tin whistle.

From Sligo, fiddler Manus McGuire gives a sublime performance of a tune he wrote, “Shelly River Waltz,” in tribute to his home county. The first composition from a band member to be recorded by Moving Cloud, it’s a beautiful, buoyant melody that should find wide currency on both sides of the Atlantic.

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Marrying great talent to great material, which includes French-Canadian, Cape Breton, and Shetland tunes, “Foxglove” is a masterwork by Moving Cloud, one of the classiest, most inventive, most irresistible acts to be found in any musical genre, Irish or otherwise.

— Earle Hitchner

U.S. tour dates

July 23, 8:15-11 p.m.

Lincoln Center Midsummer Night Swing, Columbus Ave. at 63rd Street, NYC ([212] 875-5766)

July 24-26

Cleveland Irish Cultural Festival ([216] 251-1711)

July 27

Night Town Restaurant, Cleveland Heights, Ohio ([216] 795-0550)

July 28

The Ark, Ann Arbor, Mich. ([313] 761-1800)

July 29

Canal Street Club, Dayton, Ohio ([937] 461-9343).

July 30, 7:30 p.m.

The Turning Point, 468 Piermont Ave., Piermont, Rockland County, N.Y. ([914] 359-1089)

July 31, 9 and 10:30 p.m.

Blarney Star, 43 Murray St., NYC ([212] 732-2873)

Aug. 1

Champlain Valley Folk Festival, Burlington, Vt. ([800] 769-9176)

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