The Tie That Binds
Joe Derrane has come to be known as the man who mustered one of the more amazing comebacks in the history of Irish traditional music. He had been active in the Irish music scene around Boston until it began to recede in the 1950s, whereupon Derrane turned to the piano accordion and began performing other types of music. In 1994, after almost four decades away from the two-row button accordion, Joe Derrane was persuaded to return to the instrument for a special concert. He walked out onto the Wolf Trap stage, a repertoire of eight medleys in tow, and the years faded away. This important piece of myth-making aside, Derrane is a remarkable player. He makes the tunes float effortlessly out of the box, playing in a style that is tightly arranged, precise and delightfully ornamented, and with a vigor that belies his 68 years.
The Tie That Binds is Derrane's third album since his return to Irish traditional music and it is destined to be as celebrated as the first two. Derrane keeps fine company on this release. As the title suggests, music can bind a group of people, and here we have Derrane galloping along with the likes of Frankie Gavin (fiddle), Seamus Egan (tenor banjo), Jerry O'Sullivan (uilleann pipes), Zan McLeod (guitar, bouzouki), Kevin Crawford (flute, bodhran) and Carl Hession (piano).
The 12 sets of jigs, reels, hornpipes and a waltz include favorites such as "The Frieze Breeches," "The Old Copperplate," "Geese in the Bog" and "Kid on the Mountain." But Derrane also includes some less well-known pieces that he has recovered from the past. A further feature this time out is the presentation of five of his own tunes, among which is a beautiful "French" waltz("Caprice"), written in honor of his 1996 visit to France (and which is the only piece that clearly wanders outside of traditional Irish material). I would suspect that this CD will make it to quite a few top-10 lists for 1998, and deservedly so. - Ivan Emke