With Paddy McEvoy & Arty McGlynn
"Here, we are presented with a refreshing example of purely traditional fiddle and flute music. Virtuosity and subtlety, thoughtful selection and versions of tunes enhanced with sensitive accompaniment make this a fine recording". Patsy Hanly
Pride of the West is a new album of traditional Irish music on flute and fiddle from John Wynne and John McEvoy, released on the Cló Iar-Chonnachta (CIC) label.
The Crib of Perches:
The Strayaway Child:
- Pride Of The West / Kilglass Lakes (2.37) Jigs
- Auchon House / The Red-haired Lass / The Green Fields of America (3.41) March & Reels
- An Súisín Bán / The Humours of Castlebernard (3.24) Set Dance & Hornpipe
- The Cedars of Lebanon / John Egan's / Doonagore (3.34) Reels
- The Wandering Minstrel / Happy To Meet, Sorry To Part / I Will If I Can (4.08) Jigs
- The Crib of Perches / The Tinker's Stick / Come Up To The Room, I Want Ye (3.16) Reels
- My Love Is But A Lassie / The Lakes of Sligo (2.35) Polkas
- The Mountain Top / Ciaran's Reel (2.59) Reels
- Edward On Lough Erne's Shore / The Tooth Fairy / Fraher's Jig (5.31) Air & Jigs
- The Piper's Despair / The Mullingar Lea (2.25) Reels
- The Balmoral Highlander / The Thistle & Shamrock (5.27) March/Highland/Reel
- The Strayaway Child (3.08) Jig
- The Maid of Mount Cisco (2.16) Reel
- The Fairy Reel / Larry McDonagh's Reel (3.00) Reels
The combination of flute and fiddle has pride of place in traditional Irish music and many famous duos have used that classic combination — Peter Horan and Fred Finn, Josie Hayes and Junior Crehan, and Matt Molloy and Tommy Peoples, among others. Pride of the West draws on the immense flute and fiddle tradition of north Connacht and on the musicians' strong Roscommon connections, and communicates the excitement, tension and tranquillity inherent in the combination of these two great instruments. The tunes on the album are mainly from the Sligo — Roscommon repertoire and include unusual local versions of tunes as well as some new compositions. Accompaniment is ably and subtly provided by Paddy McEvoy, John McEvoy's son, on piano and Arty McGlynn on guitar.
Both Wynne and McEvoy are excellent exponents of the north Connacht style of playing and are established musicians in their own right. John Wynne is from Roscommon and has a strong interest in the music of Sligo, Roscommon and Leitrim. He was a member of the band Providence and recorded two albums with them, Providence and A Fig for a Kiss. He also released a critically-acclaimed solo album, With Every Breath, in 2000 and he produced and played on the recent CD The Flute Players of Roscommon, Volume 1. John McEvoy was brought up in Birmingham of Roscommon parents. He recorded the album Bakerswell with the group of the same name in the late eighties. His solo CD, Returning, was released in 1998, and he recorded The Kilmore Fancy with his sister, flute-player Catherine McEvoy, in 2004.
The album includes a CD booklet containing comprehensive background notes on the tunes. The album will be officially launched on 15 June in Spell's Bar in Ballaghaderreen, Co. Roscommon and on 8 July at the Willie Clancy Summer School, Miltown Malbay, Co. Clare. The musicians will be playing several gigs over the summer to publicize the CD, including a performance at the Cavan Fleadh Cheoil on Sunday 3 June, a concert at the South Sligo Summer School on Tuesday 17 July and a concert at the Joe Mooney Summer School, Drumshanbo, Co. Leitrim on Sunday 22 July
Press ReviewsThe Irish Examiner
Roscommon man Wynne's forceful flute-playing coalesces with McEvoy's bright and nimble fiddling on a sweet collection of tunes, sourced mainly from the Sligo/Leitrim/Roscommon region.
The combination of fiddle and flute is enhanced but never over-shadowed by Arty McGlynn's guitar and Paddy McEvoy's (John's son) piano.
Echoes of the classic duet by Fred Finn and Peter Horan, from the same region, are discernible yet this superb disc stands on its own as a celebration of impeccable taste and tight unison playing. Judicious tune selection combined with impressively uncluttered delivery means a joyous and festive spirit is projected from every one of the 14 tracks.
A pair of locally-sourced polkas, My Love is But a Lassie/The Lakes of Sligo, display a radiance and spirit that epitomises spontaneity, gaiety and deep-rooted tradition in equal measures. Pride of the West is indeed a gem. Gerry Quinn
The Living Tradition
John Wynne - a great technique and a grand ear for the tunes - has been a leading light in Roscommon flute music since his solo recording
With Every Breath . John McEvoy, another Roscommon man many years in exile, is a fine fiddler who's well used to playing with fluters as his sister Catherine is one of the best. The combination is powerful indeed, and continues the proud tradition of Roscommon flute and fiddle duets.
Pride of the West opens with the title jig, followed by John McEvoy's composition Kilglass Lakes, two gentle tunes which flow very sweetly here. The pumping jigs The Wandering Minstrel and I Will If I Can are much punchier, more like the rushing style for dancing. The nicely relaxed Fairy Reel starts slow and shifts up to a medium-paced swagger, then up again to full speed for Larry MacDonagh's. In between there are some big tunes: The Strayaway Child in umpteen parts, The Maid of Mount Cisco, The Crib of Perches as a fiddle solo and the answering flute air Edward on Lough Erne's Shore, and of course a classic set of reels starting with The Cedars of Lebanon by fiddler Sean Ryan. There are also some surprises here. A strong Scottish influence brings two marches, including the current favourite Auchdon House, and a polka version of My Love is but a Lassie. The set dance or hornpipe An Suisin Ban is a blast from Ireland's past, and The Tooth Fairy is a charming jig by Mrs Wynne AKA Orla McAtavie. The rest of this recording is pretty much reels, stylish duets and occasional solos, at a collected canter with just a few brief gallops.
Great playing, fine tunes, good sleevenotes and plenty of length at fifty minutes, Pride of the West combines quality with quantity. One thing to beware of if you're thinking of playing along with the Johns: they base their music around Eb, so the fiddle is tuned up a semitone and the flute is a tad shorter than is usual these days. They do the same in sessions - so don't be caught out. Not too much of a problem for whistles or accordions, and the drummers won't even notice, but it must drive the pipers and concertina players mad. Alex Monaghan
The Folk Diary
This is an album of straightforward Irish traditional music; no frills; no extras, but the playing has such skill, verve and understanding of the
form that the album is a complete delight from beginning to end. The music is mainly from the Roscommon/Sligo area where the flute is the dominant
instrument and where so many traditional masters of that instrument come from.
John Wynne is clearly one of this worthy heritage. He is clearly a master of the instrument and shows good empathy with the other John, a fiddler. Their playing has great clarity even when played at speed; the sets of reels produce excitement even though the players sound relaxed and
are playing within themselves and are well- chosen to contrast one another.
Two very fine accompanists are sparingly used; Arty McGlynn on guitar and Paddy McEvoy on piano and even where they are used, they are well back in the overall mix, allowing the glory of the tunes to come through. Vic Smith
There are certain labels where you know. You just know. Anything that comes out on them will be fab. Clo-Iar-Chonnachta is one of them. Now comes, "Pride of the West" featuring the flute of John Wynne and fiddler, John McEvoy. It is in the north Clare style. That is not important. What IS important is that if you like trad, this one is a must-have. Accompanied by the legendary Arty McGlynn on guitar and Paddy McEvoy on piano, this is a delight. Tons of tunes, perfectly played. Perfectly. Great lift and ambience. There are 14 sets of tunes. We wanted 14 more. Many are rarely, if ever, heard. We adore this album. Rating: Highly Recommended. Bill Margeson
Irish Music Magazine Aug 07
Another excellent collection from CIC and we wouldn't expect less which brings out a beautiful blend of flute and fiddle. It could hardly be otherwise when John McEvoy is brother to Catherine, who already has a notable flute CD of her own. The opening tracks are fine examples of musical understanding, with two instruments and two players totally together.
The reels like The Cedars of Lebanon/ John Egan's are taken at a fair lick: so also are jigs like Happy to meet, Sorry to part. But there is no sense of anything rushed or forced. It's delightful precision playing and very often the two instruments sound as so much as one that the only way you can tell there's a pair is when you hear the breathing on the flute.
The best track? A near-run thing, but The Stray-Away Child is a great jig that will repay repeated listening. Listen out, though, for The Crib of Perches. It's a fine reel, and understandably a favourite. There's strong and sinewy playing in the set of two polkas. For learners there's a special value in having well-known tunes like The Mountain Top and The Maids of Mount Cisco, and showing how they can be shared. For a solo showing the characteristic vibrato of the Connacht style, John Wynne's playing of the air Edward on Lough Erne's shore is a model of lyrical restraint.
The accompaniment is also thoroughly musical: you often have to listen for it, but it's there doing a fine job even if unnoticed first time out. One lesson from this CD is that the music is about people. The fine bi-lingual liner notes normally trace the lineage of the tunes, even back a hundred years and more.
Thus John Wynne has a couple of Scottish tunes, which come from his wife, Orla McAtavie, who comes from Ballybay in Co Monaghan. The primrose and blue may not be doing too well on football pitches these days, but there can be real pride in Roscommon for having produced music of this quality. John Brophy
The Irish Times
Regional accents are alive and thriving on this collection of north Connaught tunes. Roscommon flute player John Wynne and Birmingham-born fiddler John McEvoy make sprightly, uncluttered music: filigree playing that stitches the two instruments together seamlessly. Anyone whose flute and fiddle appetite was awakened by Peter Horan and Gerry Harrington's sublime Fortune Favours The Merry will savour the local blas of the polka set, My Love Is But A Lassie and the wistfulness of the reel set, The Mountain Top. Although Arty McGlynn's pristine guitar accompaniment never overwhelms, at times it veers too close to oblivion, buried too deep in the mix. John's son Paddy lends equally subtle piano accompaniment, though: a perfect suitor for such refined musicians. SIOBHÁN LONG
The Irish Echo 13.6.07
North Connacht Clout from John Wynne and John McEvoy: "Pride of the West" Pairing Impressive
Several years ago a prominent Irish record company owner, who shall remain nameless here, surprised me by saying, "We don't need any more albums of nicely played tunes." In that owner's mind, there were too many recordings by Irish traditional instrumentalists whose playing ranged from competent to good.
So, are trad-heads really holding their breath for further pleasant iterations of such familiar tunes as "The Maid of Mount Kisco," "Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part," "The Mountain Top," and "The Strayaway Child"? Haven't they been done to death?
All four of those tunes are on the brand-new "Pride of the West" album by flutist John Wynne, who's from Roscommon, and fiddler John McEvoy, who was born in Birmingham, England, to Roscommon parents. It is one of the best albums of Irish traditional music I've heard this year and will certainly crack my top 10 list at the end of it.
What distinguishes this "tunes" album is, at heart, a paradox. The liner note written by the two musicians claims that "the commitment to compromise, in blending one's own individuality towards the achievement of something greater, is foremost" on the CD. In short, rein in virtuosity to better serve a more coveted, higher equilibrium. But in that "blending," Wynne and McEvoy have given us both individual virtuosity and ideal balance. Tight flourishes and nimble nips of improvisation seep from the marrow of their bone-strong tandem playing. Reach and grasp are equal here, creating an Irish traditional performance all the more impressive because it doesn't strive to impress.
Twelve of the album's 14 tracks are duets, all drawing on this rare ability to match temperament and talent without the slightest tapering off in separate originality. The jigs "The Wandering Minstrel/Happy to Meet, Sorry to Part/I Will If I Can" begin with unaccompanied flute and fiddle, each supporting and nudging the other, and soon Arty McGlynn gently introduces an acoustic guitar rhythm underneath the two melody players. Nuance, piquancy, drive, and non-showoff embellishment swell the fluidity of Wynne and McEvoy's joint playing.
Unaccompanied flute and fiddle start another medley, "The Mountain Top/Ciaran's Reel," where again the playing features spare, spot-on ornamentation wholly within the flow created by the two. This time, the able backing eventually comes from Paddy McEvoy, John's son, on piano.
Flute and guitar lead off the march, highland, and reel medley of "The Balmoral Highlander/Thistle and Shamrock/Thistle and Shamrock." Wynne's flute work is inventive and intricate, and McEvoy's imaginative fiddling glides in beneath a flute sustain of a single note and assumes melodic responsibility. Then fiddle and flute join, gaining in pace as McGlynn complements on guitar. It is a superbly conceived and executed arrangement.
A reel sometimes attributed to Sligo fiddler Paddy Killoran that cites a town in Westchester County, N.Y., "The Maid of Mount Kisco" is a session staple performed with distinctive verve and touch by Wynne and McEvoy, accompanied by Paddy McEvoy on piano.
Paired with the album-titled trad jig "Pride of the West" is "Kilglass Lakes," a jig composed by McEvoy as a nod to his ancestral turf of Kilglass and Kilmore in North Roscommon. Flute, fiddle, guitar, and piano blend stirringly in this track. (Finishing third in the Irish Echo's top ten trad albums of 2004, "The Kilmore Fancy" also acknowledged the area and featured another exceptional fiddle-flute duo, John McEvoy and his sister Catherine, with Bronx-born Felix Dolan on piano.)
The sole album track without any accompaniment is "The Strayaway Child," a jig credited to Sligo fiddler Michael Gorman that the Bothy Band memorably covered on their "Out of the Wind Into the Sun" album in 1977. Wynne and McEvoy invest this jig with a litheness and buoyancy that set into relief the separate strengths of each musician. The same performance traits surface in "The Fairy Reel/Larry MacDonagh's Reel," which skillfully wends its way from flute, fiddle, and guitar, to just flute and guitar, to flute, fiddle, and guitar again, and finally to flute, fiddle, guitar, and piano.
In an album chock-full of highlights, "The Cedars of Lebanon/John Egan's/Doonagore" and "The Piper's Despair/The Mullingar Lea" reels, as well as "My Love Is but a Lassie/The Lakes of Sligo" polkas (the second polka stems from a 1950s recording that included Joe Derrane), also stand out for flute-fiddle playing.
In addition, Wynne and McEvoy take a solo track apiece. Backed by his son on piano, John McEvoy steps out on "The Crib of Perches/The Tinker's Stick/Come Up to the Room, I Want Ye" reels, where his bowing is nothing short of mesmerizing. For his solo, John Wynne movingly plays an air, "Edward on Lough Erne's Shore," followed by "The Tooth Fairy," a jig composed by his wife, Orla McAtavie, and the traditional "Fraher's Jig." McGlynn's guitar provides light, rhythmic undergirding for those jigs.
Recorded during Dec. 2006 and Jan. 2007 in Kinvara, Galway's Open Ear Studios and in Ballaghadereen, Roscommon's Spells Pub, "Pride of the West" avoids any trace of roteness by relying on near-telepathic communication between Wynne and McEvoy. Their fresh settings or regional variations of familiar tunes reinvigorate them, and their respect for the vaunted flute-fiddle tradition of North Roscommon-South Sligo informs every melody they play.
"Flute music is all verb, and Matt Molloy conjugates it joyfully in all its moods and tenses," poet Seamus Heaney noted on "Stony Steps," a 1987 solo recording by Molloy, who hails from Roscommon. Heaney's words also fit the flute and fiddle music on "Pride of the West." In every sense, this is a win-Wynne-McEvoy situation. Earle Hitchner
[Published on June 13, 2007, in the IRISH ECHO newspaper, New York City. Copyright (c) Earle Hitchner. All rights reserved. Reprinted by permission of author.]