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ULC with Mads Vinding and Peter Rosendal
Go Danish Folk Music Production (

cd cover Webster defines "fusion" as "a merging of diverse, distinct, or separate elements into a unified whole." This concept hit the jazz world in the 1970's when artists like Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock brought electronic instruments into common usage, expanding the genre beyond traditional and free jazz to incorporate dance and ethno-music influences, literally creating a fusion of sounds.

Dance and popular music jumped on this bandwagon in the 80's and early 90's. World music followed later in the decade, but tended to fuse traditional melodies over a more obscure or exotic rhythm section. The Danish trio ULC's Spring is no exception to this trend but at no time do you ever get the feeling that this is done as a gimmick or for show.

Peter Uhrbrand (fiddle), Sonnich Lydom (accordion and harmonica) and Seamus Cahill (guitar, bouzouki, vocals) brought jazz bassist Mads Vinding and pianist Peter Rosendal onboard for this new venture. Spring merges 18th Century Danish dance tunes with soaring Irish fiddle playing and songs against a backdrop of jazz piano and bass.

Mixing jazz and Irish traditional music is particularly in vogue right now. The two genres share a sense of the conversational, the tunes are basic or not, but each musician is free to interpret them in their own way. On Spring, Uhrbrand and Lydom's melodic passages and the swinging feel of the backbeat foster conversations among these Danish dance tunes, a natural sense of movement. Rosendal's solos have an open, lyrical sound and when fit behind the fiddle or accordion, leave enough room for the traditional melodies to gracefully meander about.

Cahill, originally from Ireland, brings his classic balladeer vocals to four songs. These include the all-too-often-covered "How Could I Live on the Top of a Mountain?" also known as "Bonny Blue-Eyed Nancy." Cahill's voice is rich and dense as he swaggers into "Oh No, Not I," a Newfoundland song that serves as an admonition to a fair lass who thinks she's too good for her suitor.

Perhaps the reason that ULC's brand of fusion works where so many others fail is that the fiddle and accordion are allowed to play sweet and lush, while the piano and bass are allowed the space to roam, but neither overshadows the music. Each instrumental element is treated with respect and given its moment to shine. The snow has melted, welcome to Spring. - Helene Northway

Audio: "Femspring" © 2001 ULC Real Audio:

Some other short MP3 clips available at cdRoots

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