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Johnny B. Connolly
Bridgetown
Green Linnet (www.greenlinnet.com)

cd cover Born and raised in Dublin, Johnny B. Connolly joined the Irish band Anam at the age of 17. After a couple of years on the road with them he emigrated to America. Since 1997, he has been playing as a duo with guitarist Aidan Brennan. Now in his mid-20s, Bridgetown is Connolly's debut solo album. Recorded in his new home of Portland, Oregon, it was produced by Ged Foley.

With the help of notable guests such as Kevin Burke, Skip Parente, Jim Chapman and duo-mate Brennan, the CD offers mature, measured combo playing. Take as an example, Connolly's playing, tightly woven together with Burke's fiddle, on "Splendid Isolation/ Brefni O'Reillys/ Ormond Sound." The material is largely from the Irish tradition, save for a glorious musette from Parisian harmonica player J.J. Milteau ("Marcelle and Marcel"), and a set of Breton tunes ("Ton Doubl Fishel"). In addition to traditional pieces, there are several by modern composers such as Ed Reavy, Paddy O'Brien and John Carty.

Connolly exploits a range of settings, from a classically-tinged version of "Down the Hill," using Parente on the cello and viola, to "Seanamhac Tube Station," which jumps out of the blocks with a Cajun spirit. He also has the confidence to do a 5 1/2 minute solo air (an elegiac reading of "The Heathery Glen"), which showcases his facility with ornamentation and illustrates that the accordion need not speed through every tune like a banshee to catch a listener's attention. That said, Connolly is quite capable of handling a session burner as well, as shown on the final track, the buoyant "Wheels of the World/ Trip to Durrow." This is a sparkling debut release from a young player with a great deal of proven skill. - Ivan Emke

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(c)(p)Green Linnet, used with the express permission of the publishers

CD available from cdRoots

Read Helene Northway's interview with Johnny B. Connolly


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