Loftus 003

If the fiddlers of Celtic Fiddle Festival were animals, Ireland’s Kevin Burke would be a chimney swift swooping and diving on the wings of a melody, Brittany’s Christian Lemaítre would be a seal sporting in a musical pool by chasing his own hind flippers, and Quebec’s André Brunet would be a rearing dancing horse whose swaying upper body is controlled by the constant clip-clop clogging of his lower half. This is the second album from the current lineup and it surpasses the excellence of the first. Ged Foley’s steady hand on guitar keeps the fiddlers in line as they work their way through reels, jigs, gavottes, waltzes, and pipe tunes, and the fiddlers let him strut his considerable stuff on “Sir Sydney Smith’s March” which he gives a light classical touch. As the French title suggests, it’s also an album that emphasizes Quebec and Breton accents as much as Irish lyricism. This is a full realized effort by Brunet, the heir apparent to the late Johnny Cunningham bon vivant spirit. His “Reel Desjarlis” set grabs you by the lapels, forces you to dance, and doesn’t relent until you’re exhausted and smiling. But as in all Celtic Fiddle Festival projects, it’s the full ensemble playing that takes us from lofty heights and deposits us atop dizzying pinnacles. “Louis’ Waltz” is suitably subdued, but it gives way to a Swedish schottische that’s considerably quicker in pace. And do check out the whimsical “Reel de Napoleon,” which manages to be simultaneously jumpy and smooth.

There's a good YouTube sampler of the group.

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