Irish Traditional Music In America: The Music Of Ed Reavy
Rounder Records, 2001
REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/22/2001
For every million selling piece of offal out there, there are ten maybe a hundred recordings that are a labor of love. No one's going to make a buck off these discs, but they're there for a reason, a reason someone believes in. So it is with this recording from Rounder Records, a re-release of the first ever series of recordings on the history of Irish music in America. (I have four recordings in this series and will be reviewing them all as time permits.)
Who's Ed Reavy, you ask? Good question, for you non-historians. Ed Reavy was the greatest American composer of Irish music, and the greatest composer of Irish music in the world since Turlough O'Carolan in the 17th century. Reavy's jigs, reels, flings, and hornpipes have entered the list of standards played by traditional Irish musicians from Dublin, Ireland, to Dublin, Ohio. Born in County Cavan, Ireland, Reavy emigrated to Philadelphia with his family when he was 14, in 1912. For the next seventy-six years he wrote, performed, and recorded his work, until his death in 1989.
Reavy's influence cannot be calculated. This recording, originally released in 1979, is breathtaking in its historical scope. There is, first, the songs and the playing of Reavy himself, a smooth and lyrical touch on the fiddle that is in many ways the definition of "classic"Irish fiddling. (Though I have a sneaking suspicion Reavy would have approved of some of the modern multi-style fiddlers like Natalie McMaster and Mark O'Connor). Then there are the other fiddlers, playing to honor and document Reavy's work, that reads like a who's-who of modern Irish music in America: Liz Carroll, Brendan Mulvihill, Paddy Cronin, guitarist and project organizer Mick Moloney...this is more than a recording, it's a work of art and of history. Special kudos go to Rounder Records for a breathtakingly complete CD booklet, including the original liner notes, new liner notes, notes on Reavy's style of music theory and composition, and Reavy's original notes on song titles.
The Music Of Ed Reavy is just that; a seminal, groundbreaking piece of American music history that no serious fan of the Irish music genre should be without. Take the time to find it today.