PADDY KEENAN

Paddy Keenan - Piob Uileann, whistle, and low whistle
John Keenan - Banjo
Thomas Keenan - Whistle on Tracks 2, 3 and 14
Paddy Glackin - Fiddle

Notes by
Seamus Ennis

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Two Reels:
  The Steam­Packet/McLeod's Reel

In the first rushing, I thought it was Doran who was playing! The style and 'dialect' are very close to him and this was a reel greatly favoured by Johnny himself. The version and harmony accompaniment are practically identical with what he used to have, but Keenan's personal style is noticeable throughout, especially in the tight fingering. As with Johnny, he is gentle and skilled in his harmony accompaniment. I am familiar with this reel as 'The Mountain Lark' (O'Neill No. 1244). "McLeod's Reel" is well known, but here Paddy's piping is worth hearing and having to hand.

Slip Jig:
Drops of Brandy

Solo piping opens this one, in the key of D. It rises a fourth later to G and banjo together with whistle join in from there on. This is a lively, spirited track, a perquisite of the 9/8 measure.

Double Jig:
The Lark in the Strand

This is not a commonly­heard jig and is played at his ease by Thomas on the whistle; the warbling of the lark is heard-above the strand, presumably!

Two Reels:
The Humours of Ballyconnell/Toss the Feathers

The fiddle blends beautifully with the uileann pipes, but more perfectly so in the hand of two who are skilled in harmonics, as can be heard from the two Paddys in this track. The throb of the reel runs tidily and spiritedly with both. As a reference to the second reel, it is not thus it is usually known, though I would immediately recognize the high (or 2nd) part of it despite its being played a full tone higher than customarily. In my opinion two reels are confused here, but who knows? (-e.g., "The Green Mountain" and "The inlaid Behind the Bar," "The Geese in the Bog" and "The Lark's March," etc.). There is dialectical meaning in music as in speech terminology and one man will play in agreement with his companion in a duet. The first part here is a reel now named "Joe Cooley's" but which I heard identified as "The Burra Reel."

Two Hornpipes:
Dunphy's Hornpipe/The High Level

This is a pleasant track of piping at ease, showing ability and producing sweetness coupled with skill. The third part in the "High Level" is as Doran had it, purposely to show that as a tune it is not suited only to the button­box originally, ff true!

Two Reels:
Tarbolton/The Longford Collector

Banjo­'pickers' are plentiful, but mastering in 'picking' is not very general. It is rare here and also in America, what I heard of it. It would be a challenge to any to 'pick' two reels with the effortless ability John has in this track - a pair recorded by the Sligo super-fiddler Michael Coleman on a '78 long ago.

Slow Air:
Barbara Allen

Yet another version of the tune of this compassion­inspiring epic song. As with most versions, it adheres to the Greek Hyperphyrgian mode: a mark of great antiquity, undoubtedly. Whistle opens, the flute joins company and as a tasty sequel Paddy takes it on the pipes, solo and tonefully rich.

Two Double Jigs:
Coppers and Brass /The Rambling Pitchfork

Paddy gives us here an insight into Doran's way of playing double jigs, with the syncopation in his harmony accompaniment but that it is Keenan himself with his own musical taste and polish. The first tune is widely known as "The Humours of Ennistymon" and this version of the "Pitchfork" is alternating between the Dorian and Hyperdorian modes so much that one cannot relegate it, though there are two versions extant, one in each mode.

Long Dance or Set Dance:
The Ace and Deuce of Piping

As though they had decided that nothing wonderful had been played or heard as yet, side two commences with this 'stalwart' of music played by Paddy and John on banjo in unison with him. Divers styles occur in the piping between . legato and staccato with sweetness and rhythm accompaniment out­doing each other while John is doing some mean picking with accuracy and taste. A feature pleases me-this is the correct tempo of the long dance as is that of the two tracks which follow, instead of conforming with the slow turgidity desired by some of the dancing schools of today.

  Slow Air and Long Dance:
The Blackbird

As was the custom of the old pipers' Paddy plays the slow air from which the long dance was evolved and continues from it into the long dance, itself, skillfully. He has a nice piping­version if it.

Long Dance:
The Job of Journeywork

John carries cleverly on banjo a pleasant version of this tune which is in great favour generally.

Two Reels:
Farewell to Erin/The Youngest Daughter

This is a light­hearted lively track in which piper Paddy is heard on the whistle. I take notice of the long breath in imitation of the bag and piping on the whistle where possible. I was not given a name for the second reel, but it is a version of "The Youngest Daughter" (O'Neill 1217, where it is noted a fourth lower).

Double Jig:
Paddy Keenan's Jig

The piper gives us here a melody he himself composed and plays ably. Far be it from me to praise or criticize it as a piece but that I like it very much.

Reel:
The Swallow's Tail

Thomas has this track, on the whistle. It is a very unusual version of a well known reel and Thomas is at his ease, playing it skillfully.

Two Reels:
The Wild Irishman/The Sailor's Bonnet

As a novel enhancement, Paddy starts this track on chanter only. He establishes the drones at the start of Paddy Glackin's fiddling and full sail is up until John gives the throb with banjo announcing the "Sailor." This is a very polished track, it must be said.

Two Reels:
Colonel Fraizer/My Love is in Amerikay

Here is a great track from the piper alone. There are plenty off intricate legato runs, there is rolling of sustained notes, varying of harmony accompaniment style, apart from staccato piping or the "nipping out" of notes here and there - as Johnny Doran used to have long ago, "showing off! This is powerful, as a parting shot!

 

 

NOW AVAILABLE

"THE LONG GRAZING ACRE"
Track Listing information and Ordering Information

Also re-issues of Paddy's Gael Linn Solo Album ,
Poirt an Phiobaire and
Na Keen Affair on Hot Conya Records are available from www.ossianusa.com

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