Aidan O'Rourke - An Tobar (4 stars)

Aidan O'Rourke - An Tobar

(Navigator Records)


The music on this excellent disc was commissioned and first performed by An Tobar Arts Centre on Mull, and is characteristic of the fiddler’s lyrical synthesis of traditional folk roots with a much more contemporary and exploratory musical sensibility. That is reflected even in the line-up, in which he is joined by jazz saxophonist Phil Bancroft (in commanding form), eclectic harpist Catriona McKay, his even more eclectic band mate from Lau, Martin Green, on accordion, and the ubiquitous Martin O’Neill on bodhran.

The 40-minute suite is made up of five compositions, drawing on local sources in Mull for inspiration. The third track, ‘Tobar Nan Eilein’, is a poem written and read for the project by Gaelic bard Aonghas MacNeacail. O’Rourke’s music – both his writing and playing – is unfailingly strong and imaginative, and his collaborators respond with equally compelling performances from all concerned.

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