Brongafene Griffin on Cats and Other MisdemeanorsC

BRONGAENE GRIFFIN (with Gerry O’Beirne and Kevin Burke)

Three Colours Ginger

Loftus 005

That Kevin Burke is one of the finest fiddlers to set rosin to bow isn’t exactly a stop-the-presses revelation. What does surprise about Three Colours Ginger is that his enunciation is on display more than his playing. That’s because the featured fiddler is one of his former pupils, Brongaene Griffin. This is the Portland, Oregon native’s debut album and she’s a chip off the old fiddle neck. Or perhaps I should say a claw from the Burke carpet, as Griffin has themed her album on cats--“ginger” being the variety known as “orange tabby” in North America. Burke (literally) plays second fiddle to Griffin on several tracks, but he handles all of the interlude poems and recitations between musical tracks. Anyone who has ever owned a cat understands both why the Egyptians worshiped them, and Westerners linked them to witches and demons. Appropriately, Burke spits out the word “cat” with a mix of humor, appreciation, and annoyance. In like fashion, Griffin’s tunes--culled from O’Carolan, contemporary tunesmiths, and her own pen--evoke changeable moods: regal, furtive, graceful, frantic…. A cynic might say that one or two tunes stretch the theme too thinly, but I’ve seen cat moods that emulate jaunty hornpipes, delicate waltzes, and lively jigs--some times all within a span of a trilled note. This album serves the bill on three levels: it’s great fun, it showcases the potential of an emerging talent, and it allows a master to indulge in whimsy.

No comments: