Pulling Out the Stops: Traditional Music & Song of Ireland

Old Box Records 002

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The second tune on Dan Possumato’s latest CD is Billy McComiskey “The Controversial Reel.” That’s apt in that melodeon/button accordion artist Possumato, like McComiskey, favors bold playing in which the notes roll across the room in waves. There are recent compositions sprinkled amidst the traditional tunes, but this is mostly old-style Irish music—the kind that doesn’t pretend that jigs and reels are stage spectacle. As a result, it is at once fresh and timeless rather than flavor of the month. This is not to say that the album is sparse—Possumato’s pulled and pushed notes are the album’s centerpiece, but he has enlisted a top-drawer guest list that includes Kevin Burke (fiddle), Teresa Baker (piano), Mick Mulcrone (flute, bouzouki, vocals), Quentin Cooper (banjo), and Elizabeth Nicholson (harp). What is billed as a squeeze box album is really an ensemble piece that has the intimacy of a late-night session in which the musicians are perfectly in synch. Possumato honors the sessions spirit by mixing the pace and mood. For example, a flute/melodeon jig set (“Dermot Grogan’s”), segues to a song (Mulcrone on “Boys of Mullaghbawn”), slides easily into some Irish reels (“Miss Langford’s”), and gives way to a Breton an dro. Later Possumato devotes one of the album’s sixteen tracks to a bodhrán solo from Andrew Dall. Like all great sessions, though, the big reel sets are there to stir your blood right after you’ve been pacified by whatever came before it. Check out the “Tommy Peoples” set.

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