Red Knot
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Red Knot

All reviews by David Marcus unless otherwise noted.
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Album Cover Soaring Bouzouki
Dragon Reels: Roger Landes, bouzouki, guitar, mandolin; with John Whelan, accordion; Zan McLeod, guitar; Connie Dover, vocal, keyboards. Ranger Music RMCD 4321; 12 tracks, 52'04". Track List, Sound Clips & Order Form
About the only thing I don't like about this album is that it is over too soon. A friend of mine dropped this off for me to listen to. A week later, I was still listening. (I do plan to return it, but only when I get my own copy.) In other words, this is a five-peach, grade A+ premiere solo album from the founder and 12-year member of Scartaglen, with very traditional music played on an instrument that is new (for the last 30 years, anyway) to Irish music.

When Gerald Trimble introduced the bouzouki to the world as a lead instrument that could sustain an entire album (in his 1983 First Flight), he played with a style taken from the tenor banjo and mandolin and he played with a solo-with-backup feeling rather than a lead-in-a-band feeling. Roger, on the other hand, plays with the energy, rhythm and complexity of a fiddle player, a piper, or a box player. He says his goal as a bouzouki player is to create a "natural and authentic style which is idiomatic to the instrument" in the context of being the lead player in a traditional ensemble. His style is dark and somewhat dense but still crisp and lively. The recorded sound is very very true to the instrument, and complements the style superbly.

Although some of the music is newly-composed, this is a traditional album. It includes several tunes from Cape Breton and Prince Edward Island but is based in the Irish and Scottish traditions with familiar tunes such as Castle Kelly, Martin Wynne's #2, Tam Lin, Tom Billy's, and Farrell O'Gara. John Whelan on button box adds nice contrast to the string instruments and singer Connie Dover, a frequent performing partner of Roger's, contributes a clean, light and sexy version of The Devil and the Farmer's Wife, sounding as delightful as I've ever heard her. This album is a must have and can be had by mail order only (as far as I know) from Ranger Music, Box 205, Weston MO 64098 (1-888-610-1101, toll free; or Roger@CelticMusic.Com). $16 includes shipping.

David Marcus  
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