Danny Diamond is a fiddle player based in Dublin. On this CD he combines the world of traditional Irish fiddle tunes with influences from Nordic and American folk music. Most of the tune sets that Diamond plays have a drone-based accompaniment on either fiddle, nyckelharpa, uilleann pipes or accordion.
The fiddle playing on this album is robust and forthright which, whilst beautiful in parts could not be called pretty. This is not easy-listening Irish folk music.
Take for example the first tune set presented here. Diamond begins by taking The Green Fields of America at a slow pace before speeding up a little. The piece is played at a sensible speed which bring out all the nuances in Diamond’s playing. The low drone accompaniment, played on uilleann pipes (Ian Lynch) which kicks in at the start of My Love is in America gives the tune a mysterious, earthy quality.
Not all the pieces on Fiddle Music are traditional in origin. Danny Diamond’s jigs are a set of three self-penned tunes that have accompaniment by Finnish multi-instrumentalist Aki on nyckelharpa and violoncello da petto. The use of these instruments as drones links the tunes to the Nordic folk tradition whist still keeping the melody distinctly Irish in style. The final tune in the set (a tribute to Diamond’s wife Anna, and called The Webmaster’s daughter) is particularly fine.
Not all of the tracks have drone accompaniment. The Log Cabin is for solo fiddle whilst the other two tunes in the set are accompanied by the percussive sound of sean-nós dancer Anna Lethert’s feet.
Arguably the most beautiful tune on the album is a march written for Diamond’s maternal grandfather, flute player Leslie Bingham. This is a slow march played with gravitas and expression by Diamond. Aki’s nyckelharpa and violoncello accompaniment works particularly well here.
The album comes to an energetic close with a mixture of the new and the old as Diamond combines his own tune, The Old Cowhill with the traditional piece, The Roving Batchelor. Both reels are given lively dance-like renditions with drone accompaniment by Diamond on open-tuned fiddle.
On the surface Fiddle Music is an album with narrow appeal. Forty-five minutes of solo fiddle isn’t for everyone. For those who do decide to take the plunge they will discover just how good Diamond is as an interpreter of Irish traditional music. The CD presentation is also a model of its kind with fine artwork by Susan Hill and excellent liner notes by Diamond himself.Stephen Witkowski
Released on Danny Diamond Records on the 6 July 2014.
1. The Green Fields of America/My Love is in America
2. The Humours of Ayle House/ The Tailor Small’s
3. The Few Bob/The Humours of Ballyconnell
4. The Mountain Streams/Jenny’s Welcome to Charlie
5. Danny Diamond’s Jigs
6. The Log Cabin/ Seán sa Chéo/The Eel in the Sink
7. Rodney’s Glory/Napoleon Crossing the Alps
8. Danny Meehan’s/ Con McGinley’s
9. Cal Callaghan’s Hornpipes
10. The Salamanca/The Maid in the Cherry Tree/The Mistress of the House
11. Leslie Bingham
12. The Old Cowhill/The Roving Batchelor