TITLE: ON THE OFF BEAT
ARTIST: LIZ CARROLL
Liz Carroll is a national treasure (for several nations!) – a fiddler of unparalleled skill with a palette of emotions in her playing that could “make the rocks weep, charm the birds out of the sky, and make the raging waters dance.” This new recording is comprised of all original tunes, with one exception – the Yellow Tinker, and that played with such fire and originality that it is hard not to think of it as Liz' own. Each generation of Irish fiddlers has a few players who are so deeply rooted in the tradition that they can write tunes, and incorporate influences that enrich rather than dilute the great stream of Irish music. Liz is one of those. We can hear the echoes of her appreciation for other types of music – Balkan in the Fruit and Snoot and Balkin' Balkan, old-time on Barbara Streisand's Trip to the Saginaw and Fish ON, Nordic in Tinsel, and even swing in The Wolf. But this isn't a player showing familiarity with a bunch of styles – this is an archetypal Irish musician visiting other musical realms without losing one iota of her rootedness and unique musical voice. It is a joy and gift. In my travels I hear hints of Liz' playing in the styles of younger players – and it gladdens my heart. That has always been the mark of great Irish players, that their playing informs younger players and in that way keeps the tradition alive and vital.
The production by Seamus Egan is beautiful; with exquisite sound quality and exciting, playful, emotional arrangements. Catriona McKay's harp playing is a wonder of angelic power. In fact in the album notes Liz thanks her invited musicians by saying that she loved every note they played. So did I, and I think, so will you. Trevor Hutchinson on bass, Sean Óg Graham on guitar, Natalie Hass on cello, Winifred Horan on fiddle, Keith Murphy on guitar and piano, Chico Huff on bass, and Seamus Egan on mandolin and percussion all play wonderfully – and one gets the sense that the recording was a joyful experience. Certainly listening to the result was.
Kevin Carr has a touch of musical attention deficit disorder; he plays with Wake the Dead (Celtic/Grateful Dead folk orchestra), Hillbillies from Mars (folk fusion dance band with roots that show), Les Tetes de Violon (Quebecois fiddle band), Charanga (Galician style big band) and Confluence (Irish and Original, with a full complement of family members). He also maintains and plays a large stable of bagpipes.