Mapleshade

David O'Rourke & Lewis Nash

DAVID O'ROURKE & LEWIS NASH'S:

Celtic Jazz Collective

Afro-Celtic music? Jazz reels and calypso hornpipes? Congas and concertinas? You must be kidding! I only did it ’cause some great musicians really wanted to give it a try: four of Ireland’s finest, led by the legend of Irish pipers, Paddy Keenan; and a smoking jazz rhythm section, led by superstar drummer Lewis Nash. Wow, were they right! They created a historic first and they made fun music: their infectious Afro-Caribbean-Celtic grooves will have you popping your fingers and step-dancing, whether you’re a jazzer or a Gael. The crystal clarity and explosive dynamics of the Mapleshade sound doesn’t hurt either; both Paddy and Lewis said they’d never heard their pipes and drums sound so real. (#08032)

The Celtic Jazz Collective:  
Lewis Nash, drums Peter Washington, bass
David O’Rourke, guitar Steve Kroon, percussion
Paddy Keenan, Willean pipes  
Niall Vallely, concertina Guests:
Martin Reilly, bottom accordion Larry Willis, piano *
Fiona Doherty, fiddle Terry McKee, bagpipes **
Fintan O’Neill, piano Ronan Guilfoyle, bass ***

 

TRACK LISTING:

1.
THE OLD BUSH/KISS THE MAID BEHIND THE BARREL/MASTER CROWLEY - Listen To Full Song
2.
THE MAID BEHIND THE BAR/ THE WOMAN OF THE HOUSE - Listen To Sample
3.
THE SALAMANCA/THE BANSHEE
4.
PLANXTY CHARLES O’CONNOR (*)
5.
ST. ANNE’S REEL
6.
BEANNAIGH SINN A ATHAIR/AN PHEADAIR
7.
THE MUNSTER HORNPIPE
8.
THE BELFAST HORNPIPE
9.
NOCTURNE IN B FLAT MAJOR BY JOHN FIELD
10.
THE DUNMORE LASSES/FARREL O’GARA’S FAVORITE
11.
THE KID ON THE MOUNTAIN
12.
OLD AS THE HILLS/KING OF THE PIPERS/WHINNY HILLS OF LEITRIM
13.
THE MORNING STAR/ MARTIN WYNNES/THE PIDGEON ON THE GATE (**)
14.
DROWSIE MARIAH (*,***)
15.
THE MAID BEHIND THE BAR/THE WOMAN OF THE HOUSE - Listen To Sample
  All selections are traditional except (4) by Sean O’Riada and (9) by John Field. All
all pieces are arranged by David O’Rourke.

 

IF YOU ENJOYED CELTIC JAZZ COLLECTIVE, BE SURE TO CHECK OUT:

   

 

REVIEWS:

Irish America:
reviewed by Tom Dunphy

After a gig they played together at the 1998 Cork Jazz Festival, drummer Lewis Nash – whose credits include playing with Oscar Peterson, Betty Carter, and Ray Brown – quizzed Dublin-born guitarist David O’Rourke about the music of Turlough O’Carolan. Nash had bought a CD of the blind 16th-century Irish harpist/composer’s works earlier that week, and was intrigued by the melodies.

O’Rourke had always harbored a desire to meld the swing and rhythmic sophistication of jazz with the melodies he had learned as a youth. O’Rourke turned Nash on to O’Carolan and other Irish music, and the two set out on a path to combine these two improvisational traditions.

The result is Aislinn (A Vison). O’Rourke and Nash have assembled a band comprised of great musicians from the jazz and Irish music worlds. And they work through a set of fifteen songs with energy and panache. The album was recorded in live takes on vintage analog equipment, giving the music a warm, glowy feel.

Standouts include the gently grooving “Belfast Hornpipe,” “The Kid on the Mountain,” which evokes Miles Davis’ arrangements on Kind of Blue, and the beautiful “Beannaigh Sinn A Athair/An Pheader,” two Sean O’Riada melodies that showcase O’Rourke’s deft guitar skills. And pay special attention to Nash’s stick work on both takes of “The Maid Behind the Bar/The Woman of the House,” on which he answers the ex-Bothy Band uilleann piper Paddy Keenan’s phrasing with incredibly nuanced drum conversations of his own.

The Celtic Jazz Collective is stylish, sophisticated, and most importantly, swinging. This album is a must-have for jazz buffs who wish to explore music, for Irish music aficionados looking for a toe-hold onto jazz…ah, flip it: it’s a must-have, period.

June/July 2001


Absolute Sound:
reviewed by Fred Kaplan

This is a very strange record – a fusion of modal jazz and Celtic reels – that, against all odds, works. No busman’s holiday amateurism here: These are top-notch jazz musicians, top-notch Irish musicians, who get together, do their own thing, and somehow it melds splendidly. My guess is that Irish fans may like it more than jazz fans, but it’s a kick to hear Washington’s bass walks and Nash’s swing licks moving so jauntily behind a drone on “The Old Bush” – and a hair-raiser to hear Paddy Keenan delving into a Coltrane-like solo on “The Belfast Hornpipe.”

Pierre Sprey’s minimally miked, live-to-two-channel, analog recording is typically wondrous. Some tracks were laid down in his studio, others live at the Jazz Standard in New York. All are excellent.

Issue 131


All Music Guide:
reviewed by Dave Nathan

Given the popularity of Celtic Music throughout the country, it was only a matter of time before an album dressing the Irish music in jazz garments would come along. Luckily for all, this task was an undertaking by sound musicians from both the jazz and Celtic sides. Guitarist David O'Rourke straddles the Irish and jazz fence. Paddy Keenan bagpipes fits right in as he cleverly merges rhythms special to that instrument with those on the jazz side. On the medley "The Salamanca"/"The Banshee" his foil is Fintan O'Neill and on "The Maid Behind the Bar"/"The Woman of the House" the drums of Lewis Nash. The lilting of the Irish reel is successfully stirred in with the lilting of Caribbean jazz on still another medley "The old Bush"/"Kiss the Maid Behind the Barrel"/"Master Crowley". Some of the performances of Irish Jig and reels are done as straight jazz with a tad of intervention by the Irish instruments such as on "Drowsie Mariah" where O'Rourke is allowed to display his guitar qualities, and they are significant indeed. But there's a legitimate mixture of the two forms on "The Belfast Hornpipe" as Keenan‘s pipes underscore the piano and the swinging O'Rourke guitar with island percussion from Steve Kroon. All of the participants in this marriage of musical forms make important contributions to the success of this album. But it's the bagpipes of Keenan and the drums of Nash that keep things together for their respective sides of the musical equation and for the group as a whole.

This album was a challenge for the players to make the merger of two different styles come across naturally and unforced. It also has excellent sound as is the norm for any album engineered by that audio whiz, Pierre Sprey. Recommended.


Dirty Linen:
reviewed by Ivan Emke

Jazz and Celtic have had meetings in the past, such as the classic Moving Hearts work out of Ireland or the Easy Club’s swing stylings from Scotland. However, this release is especially upfront in bringing together the two genres for a conversation. The Celtic Jazz Collective is a jazz quartet from New York along with several exceptional Irish players, fine musicians all. These include jazz musicians Lewis Nash (drums) and David O’Rourke (guitar), who were the driving force for the combination, along with traditional musicians such as Paddy Keenan (uilleann pipes), Niall Vallely (concertina), and Fiona Doherty (fiddle). The combination works most of the time, as the tempos meld gloriously and the instruments bounce off of each other like old friends.

The release opens with a peripatetic concertina, accompanied on its travels by a piano-led jazz combo that sounds like it just stepped off the plane from Cuba. Other highlights include the bass walking up and down the accordion on “The Munster Hornpipe,” the jazz chording that gives “The Kid on the Mountain” new life, and a tune where Miles Davis meets “Drowsy Maggie.” All but two of the 15 tracks are based on well-traveled Irish tunes, such as “The Maid Behind the Bar,” “Planxty Charles O’Connor,” “The Belfast Hornpipe,” and “Pigeon on the Gate.” The exceptions are a nocturne from John Field and a couple of tunes from Sean O’Riada.

June/July ’02 #100